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Pascack Valley High School

17 for ’17 June 2017 Volume XIII, Issue I

“Where there’s smoke there’s fire”


Who are the students of PV’s Class of 2017? Look inside to learn about 17 students and each of their respective stories.

Photo by Curstine Guevarra

Pages 2-3

New Editors in Chief Announced

Page 5

What’s Inside Senior College Map

Pages 6-7

Top 10 PV Sports Stories of the Year

Page 12

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June 2017

Seventeen Faces in the Class of... Every graduate has a story. To get a sense of PV’s Class of 2017, here are 17 stories about students from our class.



For more on Queve do, visit:


Star of the soccer field and of the student council, Quevedo is “el presidente” of Pascack Valley. Quevedo is both the poster child and the human embodiment of our school. We have also learned to love his vocal and fiery grandfather, who we’ve taken to calling “abuelo,” after seeing his unwavering support at every soccer game.

r ye


Quev ed ilio

ec le B keme o Try to start an icargument with Becke-

meyer; we dare you. Many have tried and ultimately have failed, succumbing to sharp wit and quick rebuttals of the president of Pascack Valley’s debate team. A very vocal supporter of Republican Senator Marco Rubio, Beckemeyer will be studying business in the state and alma mater of her idol next year at the University of Miami.

pvsmokes ignal.com/b ringing-health y-soccer-to-unde rprivilege d-areas

ke Aferia a J t

A Smoke Signal sports writer since his sophomore year, Aferiat has developed a passion for covering all things related to high school sports. Known for his blunt and venomous attitude, we have dubbed him “Jake the Snake.” He interned at the sports department of nj.com throughout his senior year and is planning to major in journalism at Pennsylvania State University next year.

n Kra u re u a L Kraus is known s

neth Thom y a w Behind her

ck DiBari i N

Did someone call for Prince Charming? We could swear that this handsome man was just whisking Cinderella away from her wicked stepmother and stepsisters. You might not think DiBari has much more than looks, but think again. He’s a guitar player, a singer, a decent Spanish speaker, and an all around well-respected member of our class.


quiet demeanor and shy smiles, we would never expect Thomas to be such a skilled musician, playing the clarinet in the Pascack Valley Marching Band and Wind Ensemble and the guitar outside of school. She was even part of the spring musical “Pippin”, serving as part of the pit orchestra. And Thomas is not one-dimensional, as she also impresses us with her many computer skills.


Tomane g re Notorious for ll

sending crazy mass emails throughout his freshman and sophomore year, Tomanelli has come to be the wild card of the Class of 2017. Whether it is posing with a pasta strainer on his head for his driver’s license picture or playing his guitar in the middle of an engineering class, we have learned to expect the unexpected from Tomanelli.



for her unique and dark art style— which can be seen through her daily flashy and bold outfits. Her fashion is part crust punk, part glam punk, and part whatever she wants. An aspiring musician and tattoo artist, Kraus is waiting to see where life takes her. In any case, we doubt she’ll end up lost in obscurity, since it’s so easy to pick her out of a crowd.

A iana guero r A While she didn’t

plan to make a career out of it when she joined, Aguero has become a master stage manager in PV’s theatre, praised for her ability to quietly command a group. We have never seen someone call her cues and manage a play quite like she can. Whatever career direction she ends up choosing, whether it be in medicine, marketing, or stage management, we know she will find a way to continue utilizing her talent of leading by example.

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struggled with eating disorders and depression, Berenshtein has used her personal experience to become a voice for change. While we were focusing on her operatic singing voice, she was starting up her “Need to bEAT” campaign, which aims to raise money for research about eating disorders. Despite all the challenges she has faced—and continues to face— Berenshtein is a true advocate in our class.

DiLoren r e yl Check Instagram z

cas Ochoa u L Whether you

and you might be able to catch some sick beats or bars from “Tylersraps”. We were blown away by his debut single “Too Late” and hope that there’s more on the way for this aspiring rapper. Judging by the talent he displays on social media, the future is bright for DiLorenzo. It’s definitely not “Too Late” to jump on his bandwagon.



y Berensht r e le Having long

basketball court in Pascack Valley’s starting lineup, Culloo is hitting the books, studying hard for her next exam. We’ve learned to go to the valedictorian of the Class of 2017 whenever we need advice, help with homework, a laptop charger, or just moral support. We know Culloo as one of the most genuinely kind-hearted people in our class.

For more on , enzo Dilor : t i s i v

name, both on the basketball court and in his personal life. We instantly think of Dominguez as PV’s star point guard, but are continually charmed by his charisma and character off the court. We look forward to watching him ball at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and giving us that signature smile afterwards.

nnon Cullo a h When not on the


d Doming n e Dominguez cer- u gtainly lives up to his first



June 2017


Kochaki a t i Loud and a


For more on Be ensh rtein visit: ,

agree or disagree with his political views, we can all agree that Ochoa loves his country. A controversial figure because of his staunch conservative beliefs, Ochoa is never afraid to stir the pot through his pointed Tweets and replies. He leaves to serve his county as part of the Marine Corps Infantry on July 17.

proud is the name of the game for this charismatic and energetic gal. We have seen both Kochakian and her boisterous voice bounce off the walls of Pascack Valley for four straight years. Never afraid to burst out into song or tears in random classes, Kochakian is all about expressing herself and not caring what anybody thinks.

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n Daniel e B

Daniel lives and breathes the art of performance. We knew he could act from his many appearances in PV Theatre, but we were surprised to find he can also sing, dance, and even direct at one point. Since he plans to major in Musical Theatre at Montclair State University, it would not be a surprise if we are one day watching him on the big stage.

rew Favor d it An You may have


seen Favorito around, perhaps dressed as Santa Claus during the holiday season. You may have heard his dramatic “narrator” voice when he reads things aloud in class. We all know Favorito to be an active member of the Pascack Valley’s award winning robotics team, but you might not have known that he’s also an avid filmmaker. He placed third in the New Jersey Filmmakers of Tomorrow Festival in 2014 and 2015.

nah Wred n a Wrede is one e

H of the strongest people

we know, both physically and mentally. Inspired by the tragic passing of her mother when she was a freshman, Wrede has undergone a lifestyle change throughout her time at PV, losing 90 pounds and transforming from the freshman we thought we knew. She’s also one of the most artistically talented people we know, and who could forgot about her love for horses?

By Kyle Comito and Jamie Ryu

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June 2017

Handling a Tragedy

The Smoke Signal’s dilemma on how to adress the suicide of a student By Kyle Comito Editor in Chief November was tough. The effects of one autumn day tore through the Pascack Valley community like a tornado: unforgiving and unrelenting, leaving a mark on every student, every faculty member, and every parent in the district. The world seemed to pause for a week, as grief clouded the somber halls of PV, so eerily silent that it was almost as if no one was there. And no one quite knew just how to handle it. From a personal standpoint, 17-year-old classmate Jack Farrell’s suicide was a tragedy— a loss of a friend who had a sense of humor like no other and a network of friends so tightly woven that it seemed as if nothing could slip through. The initial reactions from myself and the majority of other students in the school were ones of shock, disbelief, and longing to know just exactly what could have led him to such an act. Yet, from an administrative standpoint, the event sparked a moral conundrum that would go on to dominate every conversation in its immediate aftermath. How does a school address the topic of suicide, so drastically different than death from illnesses or accidents? What actions would the school administration take to both heal a broken community and prevent similar acts from taking place in the future? The administration’s stance was firm from the very beginning: there would be no memorialization. The school feared the oft-discussed “suicide clusters” which tend to develop in areas recently struck by suicide. Initial memorial efforts were shot down and the candlelit vigil on PV’s field was banned, forcing organizers to relocate the event to the field near the River Vale Library—a move that was still highly discouraged. Instead, the administration called for students to join the fight against teen suicide in place of memorial efforts that they feared would glorify the act. Suicide prevention bracelets began to circulate among the student body, dozens of students posted pictures of themselves on social media with a poster saying “You are not Alone #saveteens,” and Farrell’s lacrosse team made special turquoise and purple uniforms for suicide prevention to wear on their senior night, among other efforts. However, as a school newspaper, The Smoke Sig-

nal has a different role than the school administration. It is a newspaper’s responsibility—its moral obligation—to report on the major events in a school community, regardless of the circumstances. If there is a pertinent issue or development happening within Pascack Valley, The Smoke Signal should be the first organization to know about and cover such an event. After all, this was the goal when we switched our base of operations from paper to an online vehicle just three years ago. But we didn’t. Not this time. The Jack Farrell situation was unprecedented territory for even the most tested of newspapers. In the past we had weathered a white supremacy firestorm, we had covered all angles of PV’s controversial transgender policy with no hiccups, and we even had sparked a Colin Kaepernick-style debate over students not standing up for the Pledge of the Allegiance. But never had we faced such a task so delicate as finding the correct way to address the suicide of one of Pascack Valley’s own students. And I’m not entirely sure we did the event justice. The news broke throughout the course of that dreary Sunday and began to spread like wildfire. Initially, we contemplated with the idea of publishing a press-release type of story on that night, simply listing the known information briefly to acknowledge what had happened. However, at that point, most people in the PV community already knew the information by either word of mouth, a letter sent out by Principal Tom DeMaio, or a similar press-release story from The Pascack Valley Daily Voice. So, for that night, there would be no mention on The Smoke Signal of Jack Farrell. The following days brought even more uncertainty. The administration wasted no time in making its rounds and enforcing its anti-memorial policies. This included a visit from principal Tom DeMaio to The Smoke Signal’s editing staff during one of our weekly meetings, informing us of the administration’s concerns. While not technically commanded, it was highly recommended that we avoid publishing stories directly regarding Farrell. We were advised instead to publish a story regarding teen suicide, if anything at all. This created a conflict in the journalistic minds of our editing staff. We wanted to tell the full and true story, but did not want to risk opposing the

Photo Contributed by Lucas Ochoa Pictured above (top row, from left): Matt Urrea, Peter Saks, Andrew Kohl, Shane Flanagan, Lucas Ochoa, Ryan Miller, Justin Sison, and Tommy Uhl; (bottom row, from left): Jaclyn Spellman, Shannon Geraghty, Jennie McCabe, Jodie Hoffman, and Laura McDermott. Several of Jack Farrell’s closest friends got together to promote suicide awareness in teens. Many members of the senior class posted pictures of themsleves with the above poster to spread the message across all forms of social media.

Photo Contributed by Jacob Steinberg Pictured above (from left): Mark Herdling, Jacob Steinberg, Evan Karcz, Jack Williams, Luke Ciocca, James Nugent, Lucas Ochoa, Tommy Uhl, Andrew Merli, Conor Kimball, Chris DeCotiis, Philip Wong, Jake Schroeder, Sean Tocci, Alexander Gruppuso, and Hugh Cassidy. The Pascack Valley Boys Lacrosse team for which Farrell used to play dedicated their senior night to suicide prevention and awareness. The team made custom uniforms in purple and turquoise, the colors for suicide prevention, for the occasion. word of our administration and settled on putting togethand straining a relationship we er one story regarding what value highly. It was a difficult the school administration was decision, either way. Ultimate- doing in wake of the tragedy. ly, we chose to bite our tongues We immediately put our most and listen to the adminis- trusted and quickest writer, tration’s instructions, going Jamie Ryu, on the case. By against our desire to address the following Monday, a full the situation more directly. week after the event occurred, The whole school week “Administration aims to mainwent by without anything re- tain normalcy in wake of related to the suicide being pub- cent tragedy” was published. lished on The Smoke Signal. The story focused on It was a strange feeling to why the administration know what was happenchose to not address the For the ing in the PV commuissue on a larger scale, story nity, but only see the and the psychological published by The website showcasing reasons and advanSmoke Singal stories about our tages behind that after this incident, hockey team and decision. The stovisit: the Valley Cup. ry was decent in pvsmokesignal.com/adThere was a its own right, ministration-aims-to-maintain-normalcy noticeable but it felt discomfort like it was among the missing members of our editing staff; the appropriate context it felt like we were ignoring needed for a situation of and trying to push aside a ma- this magnitude. Jack Farjor issue for the sake of not rell’s story never was told. wanting to cause controversy. Later in the year, the We eventually decided idea to tell the full story rethe silence could not continue, surfaced among the members

of our editing staff. Enough time had passed that this was not an entirely raw topic in the school, but it was still relevant to the wounded community. The idea to delve into Farrell’s life— from the beginning to the end— was tossed around for a long time by our staff. Whether it was the fear of backlash or the need for meticulous and careful work to be done, the idea never materialized. Ryu’s story was the only thing we ever published on the website about the event. To this day, I am still not sure what the right course of action would have been. I have many regrets on the way myself and The Smoke Signal as a publication handled the tragedy. If I could go back, I think I would have handled it differently. What that means, however, in terms of what would have been published and what reaction we would have elicited, will forever be unknown. But, given the circumstances in real time, I think that we got it wrong.

June 2017

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Passing the torch to next year’s EICs By Kyle Comito Editor in Chief A lot can change in four years. Never as a freshman would I have thought that I would be here saying goodbye to a newspaper that I have grown to love over the course of the last few years. Heck, The Smoke Signal as we know it today did not even exist four years ago. The daily online website that students can check whenever they want was only conceived in my sophomore year at Pascack Valley. Before that, The Smoke Signal could only be read in hard copies, with about four issues published each year. And yet, it feels like those days were centuries ago. I cannot remember a time before I was ripping through stories for AP style errors, contemplating the best headlines, or calling my fellow editors late at night to look through stories together. Becoming a part of The Smoke Signal as a sophomore was among the best decisions I made in high school. The friends I made, the skills I learned, and the experiences I had as a part of this team are irreplaceable. The people involved with this publication are truly special. It starts at the top. Nothing that The Smoke Signal has accomplished these past three years would be possible without our humble Archbishop (better known as our faculty advisor), Mr. Bill Rawson. Coming from a background of journalism and newspaper writing, Rawson was the perfect candidate to take over

operations three years ago and spearhead our move online. On a daily basis, he uses his experience from both teaching and writing to make our publication the absolute best it can be. While he does not always get the credit he deserves (or even wants), Rawson is the true hero, backbone, and quarterback of our newspaper. I am not sure if some of the people on our own staff even realize how much effort he puts in behind the scenes, not only for the excellence of the paper, but also for the well-being of our staff. Rawson lives and breathes The Smoke Signal. Every award, recognition, and compliment we receive can be directly attributed to his hard work and dedication. Simply put, The Smoke Signal is Rawson’s brainchild, and I am forever grateful for the daily contributions he has made to the website, to our staff, and to me. I would be remiss not to talk about the fantastic and dedicated staff that I have been privileged to work with over the last few years. From before my time to after my time, The Smoke Signal has introduced me to some of the most hard-working and genuinely caring people I have ever met in my life. I would like to recognize our amazing editing staff for this past school year: Jake Aferiat, Kayla Barry, Lauren Cohen, Madison Gallo, Curstine Guevarra, Jamie Ryu, and Sarah Schmoyer. They have all put in an incredible amount of effort into our operation, and we could not function without the dedication of

each and every one of them. It is important to remember that our paper is an extracurricular activity, which means that all of our staffers sacrifice their free time to participate. I would like to thank Aferiat and Ryu specifically, who are graduating alongside me this year, for sticking with our paper until the very end. They are two of our paper’s most talented writers and editors, and they have been doing great work since before I even joined the team. Aferiat has become a model for how to write and tweet about everything PV sports, and Ryu can write a breaking news story more quickly and efficiently than anyone I know. I’m sure the skills they picked up as part of The Smoke Signal will assist them in all of their future endeavours. Words cannot express how much I will miss our weekly editor’s meetings— which sometimes extended as late as nine o’clock at night, our always active and comical group chat, and our daily bickering and minor feuds. We were not always 100 percent focused, but we always came together to complete the necessary tasks in the end. It would be selfish of me not to recognize the efforts that last year’s Editor in Chief, Vanessa Rutigliano, made to bring The Smoke Signal to where it is today. Vanessa, thank you for believing in me enough to make me an editor last year, thank you for having such an unwaveringly positive and lively personality, and thank you for raising the bar of what a high school

Photo by Sofia Hassan Pictured above (from left): Lauren Cohen, Kyle Comito, and Madison Gallo. The Smoke Signal will transition from Comito as Editor in Chief to Cohen and Gallo both at the helm for the 2017-2018 school year. newspaper could achieve. Without you, the stories we produce would not even be close to the quality or quantity of what we publish today. That being said, I am very proud to announce that Cohen and Gallo will be the Editors in Chief in the upcoming 20172018 school year. With a publication our size—that produces the amount of content that we do, having two people in command is necessary to continue onwards and upwards. This year, The Smoke Signal won the Garden State Scholastic Press Association’s Distinguished Journalism Program Award for New Jersey’s Division B, a high honor that comes from our team’s enthusiasm and devotion. With Cohen and Gallo in charge, I am

confident that this team can accomplish even more next year, and for years to come. Cohen is the longest tenured Smoke Signal member and one of the most skilled editors I have seen. Meanwhile, Gallo has a voice and a command that will translate well to a position of leadership. I have little doubt that this pairing will succeed in both working together and balancing each other’s strengths and weaknesses next year. I cannot imagine what my senior year would have looked like if I was not the Editor in Chief of The Smoke Signal. It was both an honor and a privilege to serve this publication, and I cannot wait to check the website daily from my dorm room at Rutgers University next year.

The Smoke Signal Editorial Staff 2016-2017 Editor in Chief: Kyle Comito Managing Editor: Lauren Cohen Sports Editor: Jake Aferiat Photo Editor: Curstine Guevarra Staff Editor: Kayla Barry Staff Editor: Madison Gallo Staff Editor: Jamie Ryu Staff Editor: Sarah Schmoyer Adviser: Mr. Bill Rawson Website: pvsmokesignal.com Facebook: The Smoke Signal Twitter: @pvsmokesignal Instagram: @pvsmokesignal YouTube: PVHS Smoke Signal

Photo by William Rawson Pictured above (from left): Jamie Ryu, Sarah Schmoyer, Curstine Guevarra, Jake Aferiat, Kyle Comito, Madison Gallo, Kayla Barry, and Lauren Cohen. The 2016-2017 Smoke Signal Editorial Staff presents their plaque for being named the GSSPA’s Distinuighed Journalism Program for New Jersey’s Division B at October’s GSSPA Conference.

The Smoke Signal welcomes input from all members of the Pascack Valley High School community. Please contact Mr. Rawson for information (wrawson@pascack.org). Since The Smoke Signal is the voice of the student body of Pascack Valley High School, opinions expressed in this newspaper do not necessarily reflect those of other Pascack Valley students, teachers, administrators or the Board of Education. Articles are often reproductions that first appeared online and were deemed accurate at the time of original publication.

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June 2017

College Map Key University of Alabama - Luke Ciocca - James Nugent

University at Albany (SUNY)

- Dylan Bischoff

Arizona State University - Carlie Rein

University of the Arts - Lucia Klarin - Julia Padovan - Bari Pallerino

Barnard College of Columbia University - Sara Bousleiman

Bentley University

Drew University - Katrina Leonard

Drexel University - Andrew Favorito

Emory University - Valery Berenshtein

Fairfield University - David Demboski

- Ben Cohen

Bergen Community College - Ethan Burns - Amy Culhane - Michael Lin - Shannon Miles - Troy Peressini - Hannah Shell - Matthew Voorhis

Binghamton University - Ian Choi

Bloomsburg University

- Ken Rutigliano

Fashion Institute of Technology - Corrine Fox

Florida State University

- Austin Davis

Fordham University

- Isabella Muggeo

Franklin & Marshall College - Christa Stankus

Boston College - Mackenzie Farrell - Jacob Ricco - Mary Kate Viceconte - Chloe Witt

Boston University - Cassidy Freeman

Bryant University - Celine Denehy

Carnegie Mellon University - Sue Lee

University of California, Berkeley - Olivia Wang

Castleton University - Dorothy Mauro

Geroge Mason University - Julia Veloso

Geroge Washington University

- Drew Aral

University of Hartford

- Jessica Ruby

High Point University

- Christina Wolff - Alyse Herburger

Indiana University - Jeremy Collier

Cedarville University - Peter Solvang

University of Iowa - Jeff Roberts

Chatham University

- Blair Abney

University of Connecticut

- Peyton Moro - Kanako Muratomi

University of Dayton

- James Dronzek

University of Delaware

- Brian Andreasen - Shannon Geraghty - Danielle Miller - Kellie Palermo - Emily Puller - Nick Verost

Ithaca College - Kaitlyn Toledo

Loyola University Maryland

- Alexander Gruppuso

Manhattan College - Emily Del Villar - Nicole Raymond

Marian University

- Tom Smith

Marist College - Jaime Minervini

University of Maryland

- Jaclyn Spellman - Jacob Steinberg - Ryan Yellin

Marywood University

- Jon Dinnell

James Madison University

- Alexandra Bonanos - Susy Koons

University of Massachusetts at Amherset

- Gwyneth Thomas

Johnson and Wales University - Jackie Bushman - Sara Biasi

Kutztown University

- Alexandra Malc - Peyton McSherry

University of Miami - Rob Arloro - Nicole Beckemeyer

University of Michigan - Jodie Hoffman

Monmouth University - Grace Haemmerle - Sarah McCambridge - Shannon Slattery

New York University - Emilio Quevedo - Jamie Ryu - Jenna Tracy

Montclair State University - Sonia Anand - Angelica Bomma - Elena Bottiglieri - Ben Daniel - Amanda Del Villar - Matthew Gomez - Paxton Horvath - Conor Kimball - Alyssa Osenbruck - Phil Wong - Hannah Wrede

Mount Saint Mary’s University

- Austin Mattessich

University of North Dakota - Keith Zorn

Northeastern University - Ariana Aguero - Kendall Cottrell - Matt O’Donnell - Caroline Sheehy - Matt Urrea

Ohio University - Glenn Pareti

University of New Hampshire - Samantha Beck

The College of New Jersey - Alex Criscuolo - David Moralishvili - Andrew Nebbia - Aria Sen - Rebecca Silverman - Justin Sison - Nicole Zamlout

New Jersey Institute of Technology

- Levon Barber - Pierce Kerin - Andrew Lee

Pace University - Carly Flanagan - Gayle Pinchot

Pennsylvania State University - Jake Aferiat - Jessie Cooper - Julia Dobre - Allison Kasper - Rita Kochakian - Mike Mugno - Ashley Unger

University of Pittsburgh - Turner Halligan

June 2017

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Purdue University

- Josh Smartenko

Quinnipiac University

- Kayla Evans - Miranda Matuszewski - Andrew Merli - Adam Tollin - Matt Vasel - Jack Williams

Ramapo College

- Nicole Dano - Caleb Heck - Joseph Marrone - Riley Weis

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute - Legend Dominguez - Christer Herrmans - Minghua Zhang

University of Rhode Island - Jack Devanna - Ashley Evans - David Forcellati

Rider University - Mackenzie Escobar - Ryan Miller

Rocky Mountain College

- Eveleen Milacek

Roger Williams University

- Sophia Johnston

Rowan University - Taylor Desposito - Justin Eliopoulos - Gina Foti - Cassidy Rodenberg

Rutgers University - Lucinè Alashaian - Vivian An - Sam Brunn - Kyle Comito - Alec Corring - Alexa Cosgrove - Jessie Dicker - George Job - Bailey Lutz - John McGrath

Sacred Heart University - Julia Evans - Sarah Tedesco - Bella Tolomeo - Ava Prospero - Ethan Zindel

Saint Bonaventure University - Christian Philip

Saint Joseph’s University

- Kelsey Chiellini - Brendan Culloo - Gianna Solimano

Saint Thomas Aquinas College - Matt Domville - Michelle Previtali

San Diego State University - Hugh Cassidy

San Fransicsco State University

Syracuse University - Kyle Alverado - John Coyle

Texas A&M University

- Shane Flanagan

- Jessy Zevits

The Savannah College of Art and Design

Towson University

- Nick Metz

University of Scranton - Kayleigh Basovsky - Alex DeRosa - Carley Wiseman

Seton Hall University - Nick DiBari - Matilda Gaugler - Amanda Hartman - Michael Leicht - Kevin Smith - Brian Sumereau - Anastasia Zavadenko

Siena College

- Erin Collins - Brooke Harmke - Andrew Kohl

Tufts University - Eva Rosini

United States Coast Guard Academy - Tommy Uhl

- Jennie McCabe - Jake Schroeder - Amanda Wiseman

Stockton University - Michael Donne - Krista Held

- Charlotte Atkinson

Wentworth Institute of Technology - Annemarie Costello

West Virginia University - Zach DePinto

William Paterson University - Carson Weis

University of Wisconsin

- Alyssa Saladino

Gap Year - Bethany Giblin

University of Vermont

- Maya Abraham

- Regina Guzzo

University of South Carolina

School of Visual Arts

Military - Ethan Burns - Lucas Ochoa - Sean Tocci

Villanova University - Shannon Culloo

Virginia Polytechnic Institute

- Nikki Criscuolo - Julia Vicchio

For more on PV students, visit: pvsmokesignal. com/category/pv-life


Freshman Year

Page 8

Sophomore Year Junior Year



What has happened in Pascack Valley...

August 2013: Pascack Valley introduces new Macbook Air laptops in continuation of 1:1 laptop eLearning Initiative.

September 2013: The Class of 2017 begins its time at Pascack Valley.

December 2013: Pascack Valley’s football team wins State Sectional Final in Metlife Stadium against Paramus.

August 2014: The Smoke Signal goes online for the first time in its history; pvsmokesignal.com is born. September 2014: PV introduces new “Pascack Schedule,” which consists of rotating periods and two days of “block” classes per week, plus the new once-a-week Pascack Period.


Senior Year


June 2017


September 2015: PV transitions from four distinct marking periods to one, cumulative grading period.

September 2016: PV transitions from one cumulative grading period to two-semester grading.




December 2015: With the change in marking periods comes the elimination of the traditional mid-term examination week. The final examination week is also eliminated.

For more on t: i, visi Safar gnal. okesi pvsm v-music- sy p com/ new-jerse eth isf r o e h r teac 7-teache -1 2016 year

October 2016: Choir Director and music teacher Mrs. Argine Safari wins NJ Teacher of Year.

December 2014: PV’s football team wins second State Sectional Final in a row, beating Paramus in Metlife Stadium yet again.

November 2016: The district domain changes from pascack.k12. nj.us to pascack. org.

November 2016: Mr. Andrew Lewis steps down as head volleyball coach after 21 seasons and multiple titles.

June 2017





... since the Class of 2017 has been here? Ferbruary 2014: Pascack Valley hosts first ever “virtual day,” instead of day off, in response to large snowstorm.

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May 2014: Mrs. Bonnie Slockett hands over the reigns of The Smoke Signal to Mr. Bill Rawson.

For more on PV’s Virtual Days, visit: pvsmokesignal. com/virtual-day-portfolio

For the HR open L’s lett visit er, : pvs com mokesi gnal /ope our. nc pvhs ommun letter-to ity-f -hum r o an-r ight m-thes-lea gue

July 2015: Novell Groupwise is done away with as PV’s main email system. The Pascack Valley District switches all students and faculty to Gmail.

May 2015: The Smoke Signal publishes “Open letter to our community from the PVHS Human Rights League.” As a result, white supremecy becomes a hot topic at PV and the AntiDefamation League makes a visit.



February 2016: “Virtual Days” make a return. Two block days are substituted with home-based instruction on February 2 and 3. These would be the last virtual days in PV’s immediate future.


March 2016: Mr. Craig Nielsen steps down as PV’s head football coach after 15 seasons and 175 career wins.


April 2016: The Pascack Valley Regional High School District passes a controversial transgender policy and the PV community reacts.


For more on the transgender polic y, visit: pvsmokesig nal.com/ transgende r-policy-port folio

For more on the future ys, of virtual da visit: nal.com/ pvsmokesig e-a-thingar say virtual-d st/ pa e-th of

March 2017: Girls Basketball team wins Group 3 State Finals over Ocean City and advances to the Tournament of Champions.

March 2017: Students are told they are now allowed to keep their laptops thoughout the summer.

June 2017: PV’s Baseball team ends drought by winning State Sectional Title for the first time in 51 years.

By Kyle Comito and Lauren Cohen

Page 10

June 2017

Presidents share favorite Pascack Valley memories By Emilio Quevedo Executive Council President My favorite memory as a Pascack Valley student was taking part in our soccer team’s Bergen County Tournament semifinal game against Bergen Catholic. While we had great support all year from the fans, I did not know if I should have expected a crowd at the game on a cold Sunday afternoon all the way at Ramapo High School, which was the venue for the tournament. It was almost as if people sensed my doubt and wanted to extinguish it right

away because when I looked over at the visitor bleachers at kickoff, they were packed with Valley students of all ages, backgrounds, and passions. After seeing that, I do not think I ever played as hard a game in my life. While in the moment it felt like I was doing it just for the game and to make it to the finals, it was really about so much more than that. It was for every kid at Valley, whether they were in the bleachers or not, because I realized how much our school means to me. We have such an incredible community at Pascack Valley, filled with the kind of kids

who would freeze their butts off on a Sunday afternoon to support their friends. The kinds of kids that were at home watching their Twitter timelines to stay updated on the game. The kinds of kids who, if they weren’t interested in the game, were interested in participating in our community through the arts or academics. When that game finished and our team won on the final kick of the match, and I started running around in pure joy, I was thinking about how much this win meant to me because I loved representing our school, and bringing it success, pride, and joy.

Photo by Curstine Guevarra The 2016 Pascack Valley Boys Soccer Team (shown above) won their league and advanced all the way to the Bergen County Tournament Finals and the State Tournament Semifinals before falling to undefeaed Ramapo both times.

By Matt Urrea Senior Class President I’ve had a lot of awesome memories from my time at PV. Whether they took place on the fields or in the classrooms, I’ll carry them with me for the rest of my life. I think the thing that I’ll remember most about PV is the Valley Cup. Looking back, there are two or three that stand out from the rest. The first one that stands out is the last one of our freshman year. As usual, the last Valley Cup of the year required each grade to come up with a dance, and the juniors at the time put on a show that was both risqué and hysterical. I had never been in a place where so many people were laughing at once and it

was an awesome experience. Another Valley Cup event I’ll always remember is the second one of our senior year when we played basketball musical chairs. Being the president, it was always my job to find people to do events, and it was always a difficult task. This time, I harassed Brendan Culloo to participate until he eventually and reluctantly agreed. It ended up being another one of those times where the entire school burst into laughter. I knew Brendan was a dirty player from gym knockout, which brings up more great memories, but I didn’t think he was willing to throw his body over a chair in order to win Valley Cup musical chairs, all while almost losing his too-loose pants. When he did that, I, along with the

rest of the school, simultaneously lost it and that was the highlight of that Valley Cup. The third Valley Cup I’ll never forget is the last one. After finding no one else to do our dance, I was stuck doing it. Fortunately, my dance group and I were able to make the best of the situation, taking inspiration from the junior dance three years prior. I couldn’t really hear everybody laughing because I was too focused on catching [James] Nugent in my arms, but it seemed like everyone enjoyed watching it as much as I enjoyed doing it. These three memories only scratch the surface in demonstrating the amazing experience I had at Pascack Valley, but nonetheless they’ll always stick out a little more in my mind.

Infographic by Kayla Barry Photo by Curstine Guevarra Pictured above (from left): Matthew Gomez, Jacob Ricco, Jack Devanna, Ben Daniel, James Nugent, and Drew Aral. The senior class performs their dance at their last Valley Cup in May of 2017.

Data obtained from the responses to The Smoke Signal’s senior survey. Students were asked to name the amount of colleges they applied to, their favorite teacher at Pascack Valley, and what they planned on majoring in at college in addition to which college they would be attending.

June 2017

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Photo by Curstine Guevarra

The Smoke Signal Story of the Year

Here The Smoke Signal highlights what we feel is the strongest story we published over the course of the 2016-2017 school year. This piece, “Pushing back against cenorship”, highlights a few recent cases of administrative censorship in New Jersey. Specifically, this story focuses on Adelina Colaku (above), a former Northern Highlands High School student who dealt with censorship in her high school. This story required months of research, interviewing, and investigating for Smoke Signal Staff Editor Sarah Schmoyer, who even took a trip to Bard College to meet with Colaku. This story won a “Best of SNO” award from the School Newspapers Online organization.

Pushing back against censorship By Sarah Schmoyer Staff Editor In 2014, Northern Highlands student Adelina Colaku tried to publish an article in her school newspaper, The Highland Fling, but was prevented by the school’s administration. The principal, Joseph Occhino, censored the article, a piece discussing sensitive issues within the school’s staff. Colaku, who was the Editor in Chief of the paper at the time, was quick to fight back. “I told them that if they didn’t publish my article in full, I would have no hesitation taking it to court,” Colaku said. As a student, freedom of speech is limited. High school students do not have the ability to say or write anything they want. Vulgar speech, for example, is prohibited, along with anything that may cause a disruption. But how does this apply to a school’s newspaper? Does it have the right to publish the whole, uncensored truth? This is the premise of the nationwide New Voices movement, which aims to defend these specific rights for student journalists. Its goal, according to its mission statement, is “to give young people the legally protected right to gather information and share ideas about issues of public concern.” The first state to pass such a law, protecting both high school and college journalists, was North Dakota in April of 2015. Since then, Oregon, California, Illinois, and Maryland have passed similar bills. Additionally, there are six states that have passed bills protecting high school students but not college students. Another 18 states have bills pending, each offering various degrees of protection. New Jersey is one of those 18. The bill was introduced in December of 2015 by former assemblywoman Donna Simon (R- Hunterdon). After

Simon left office, the bill was reintroduced on June 30 by Assemblywoman Gail Phoebus (R-Sussex) and Assemblyman Troy Singleton (D-Burlington). An identical companion bill was proposed on August 1 by New Jersey state senators Diane Allen (R-Burlington), Nia Gill (D-Montclair), and Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth). The student chapter of the Garden State Scholastic Press Association (GSSPA) has worked to provide a support system for student journalists dealing with administrative censorship in New Jersey, and is currently working to raise awareness for this bill. Kaitlyn Boyle, Vice President of the student chapter of the GSSPA, has had her own experiences regarding restriction in high school. Eastside, her school newspaper at Cherry Hill High School East, had poor relations with its administration, which is one of the reasons why she believes this is such a pressing issue. “The administration doesn’t always take our publications as seriously as we would like,” Boyle said. “But we strive to create a professional paper, so we should be treated as professionals.” The proposed bill protects public school districts and public universities and asserts that students have “the right to exercise freedom of speech and of the press.” This protects all school sponsored media against administrative censorship and prohibits any school rules restraining their freedom. Schools would also be required to adopt a written policy regarding the freedom of expression given to school newspapers that is in compliance with the bill. Staff advisors would be protected from retaliation under the bill when supporting the First Amendment rights of their students. Under the proposed bill,

students would be treated as equals to professional journalists. They would not be able to publish anything that is “libelous or slanderous,” an “unwarranted invasion of privacy,” against state law, or that would put the student or school in a dangerous situation. There is also a statement that says students are not allowed to publish material that would cause the, “disruption of the orderly operation of the school.” This references the infamous 1988 Supreme Court decision of Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, in which the Court ruled in favor of the school’s

pealed her case to the Board of Education and the Superintendent, leading to months of legal negotiation. Three months later, the administration allowed the article to run in full. “That article that I wrote impacted not only the school district, but the whole community,” Colaku said. “There could have been a lot more productive debate about the topic had [the original article] not been outright censored.” A similar case occurred at Pemberton Township High School in 2013, where a prior review policy had been in place since 2010. The school’s

Photo contriubted by Kaitlyn Boyle GSSPA members (from left to right) Kaitlyn Boyle and Ashley Cooper, students from Cherry Hill East High School, advocate for freedom of the student press with SPLC Executive Director Frank LoMonte. right to prior review in particular cases. Although students are given more freedom in the newly proposed bill, there are still these regulations in place. People aren’t always aware of student press issues until brought to public attention, but it happens often. In the Northern Highlands case, there was a prior review policy already in place. Occhino’s disapproval was originally due to the sensitive issues addressed in the article, but he later questioned its use of anonymous sources and accused it of bias. Colaku ap-

principal Ida Smith censored two articles, one about the departure of the school’s athletic director and one about an increase in student smoking. Following this situation, the students attempted to write an article about censorship itself, which was met with the same administrative disapproval as the previous ones. Eventually, revised versions were allowed to be published in the paper. However, the newspaper’s advisor, Bill Gurden, was later removed from his position after his students published an ap-

proved newspaper issue online without specific authorization from Smith. He was allowed to continue to teach in the district but was no longer allowed to teach any journalism or advanced classes. More of these stories exist, both statewide and nationwide. However, many of them get pushed under the radar. Frank LoMonte, the Executive Director of the Student Press Law Center, or SPLC, shares this sentiment. According to its website, the SPLC is “devoted exclusively to educating high school and college journalists about the rights and responsibilities embodied in the First Amendment.” It aims to support student news outlets in covering issues and preventing administrative censorship. In LoMonte’s opinion, there is almost never a reason an administrator should stop a story from running. “Libel would be a reason to censor an article,” LoMonte said. “But in those cases you don’t censor, you educate. Most of the time, when an administrator tries to censor something, it’s an attempt to conceal something.” LoMonte also believes that the censorship can affect a student’s growth as a journalist. “The message of censorship is that you aren’t allowed to question the government. Journalists have to ask: how can we make things better?” he said. LoMonte said that it ultimately comes down to students to advocate for their rights. He stresses that they are the ones who have the platforms to advocate. According to him, feedback coming from a student is “more powerful than coming from some person in Washington.” Boyle stresses that this bill is all about students having a voice. “Know your rights,” Boyle said. “Know the power of your voice, and you can really make a change in your school.”

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June 2017

Top 10 Pascack Valley sports moments of 2016-17 By Jake Aferiat Noah Schwartz Josh DeLuca Number 10: Lewis steps down as volleyball coach After 21 seasons, head coach Andrew Lewis announced that this past volleyball season would be his last. During Lewis’s tenure, he led the Indians to a Bergen County title in 2003 and finished runner-up in the county tournament in 2005. Lewis will be replaced by PV alum, former All-County selection, and junior varsity coach Kate Lewis.

Number 9: Matt Urrea accounts for 7 TD’s, 300 yards Matt Urrea, a senior running back, played the game of his life against Demarest this past season as he rushed for 6 touchdowns and 312 yards in a 48-42 PV win. He also threw a touchdown pass and kicked 4 extra points to contribute 46 of PV’s 48 points. His efforts contributed to head coach Len Cusumano’s first career win.

ment win. Another lacrosse milestone, senior Conor Kimball recorded his 100th point of his career against St. Joe’s in the opening round of the Bergen County Tournament, becoming the program’s seventh player to reach the mark. Senior shooting guard Matt Vasel became the boys basketball program’s fifth ever player to record 1,000 career points after scoring 23 against Tenafly. He finished the season as the program’s fourth leading scorer all-time. The final milestone comes from senior hockey player Trent Shanley, who recorded his 100th career point in only three seasons and was one of only two Bergen County hockey players to score 30 goals this year.

Number 8: Boys Bowling captures County title Pascack Valley won the Bergen County title for Group 3 and 4 schools with a total of 5,930 total pins. The Indians (2,857 total pins) also finished runner up to Indian Hills for the Section 1A title, despite posting the section’s best record at 6-0.

Number 7: A season of milestones Junior Jenny LaRocca scored her 100th career goal in girls lacrosse during PV’s state tournament game against Wayne Valley, and helped give PV its first ever tourna-

Melissa Purcell Pole Vault

Photo by Curstine Guevarra

Number 6: Resurgence of wrestling team For the first time in 11 seasons, the Indians qualified for the team state playoffs, capturing the fifth seed after missing out by 0.6 points last season. In addition to qualifying for the team state playoffs, PV also sent Matt Beyer, District 1 champion at 132 pounds, to the state tournament.

Number 5: Nygren earns 400th win in memorable soccer season

Henry Tipping Bowling

baseball team top Morris Hills 14-4 and capture the North 1, Group 3 baseball title, the program’s first state sectional championship since 1966. The team finished with a record of 21-5 for the season. Other highlights include a no-hitter tossed by Issackedes, who struck out eight in the process, and a win against consensus state No. 1 St. Joseph’s Regional High School, in a game which PV won 6-1. The team eventually fell to Cranford in the Group 3 semifinals.

PV boys soccer coach Roy Nygren won his 400th career game in a 4-1 win against St. Joe’s. He has spent 9 years as the head man at PV and also spent time coaching at Northern Highlands and Don Bosco. The Indians went 16-2-1 and fell to Ramapo by a score of 2-1 in the North 1 Group 3 semifinal. PV’s other loss also came at the hands of Ramapo, and PV never allowed an opponent to score more than two goals in any game.

Number 4: Baseball wins first state sectionals in 51 years Seven RBI from first baseman Carson Weis and a complete game from pitcher Jordan Issackedes helped the PV

Athlete of the Year: Cassidy Freeman Number 3: Purcell wins Group 3 Pole Vault crown Melissa Purcell, a junior, placed first in Group 3 in pole vault in 2017 with a height of 12-0 and as a result was Pascack Valley’s only track and field athlete headed to the State Meet of Champions. Purcell will look to improve at the state Meet of Champions after taking fourth in the state in pole vault last year.

Senior Cassidy Freeman had another strong swimming season, culminating in a third place finish in the 100 butterfly at the state Tournament of Champions. The time of 55.67 seconds that she posted in the state tournament was slightly better than her time of 56.36 seconds at the Bergen County Meet of Champions. No other PV athlete placed higher in the state in an individual sport than Freeman. She will continue her swimming career at Boston University in the fall.

By Josh DeLuca

Number 2: Freeman swims to Meet of Champions The Smoke Signal’s Athlete of the Year, senior Cassidy Freeman, a Boston University commit, wound up taking third in the state in the 100 butterfly at the state Tournament of Champions, posting a time of 55.67 seconds and took second in the county at the Bergen County Meet of Champions with a time of 56.36 seconds. Freeman’s third place finish in the state is the best of any PV athlete competing in an individual sport.

Number 1:

Girls Hoops captures its sixth state title

The Indians finished the season at 30-2 en route to their first Tournament of Champions berth since 2008 after winning the Group 3 title 48-45 over Ocean City. PV began the season 16-0 before ultimately falling to Old Tappan in the first round of the Bergen County Tournament, but then rebounded and won 14 in a row before its 70-50 loss to Jordan Issackedes Franklin in round one of the Baseball Tournament of Champions.

Photo by Curstine Guevarra

Team of the Year: Girls Basketball Led by First Team All-County selections Kelly Petro and Brianna Wong, Pascack Valley’s girls basketball team wound up scoring over 61 points per game, which helped propel them to a 30-2 record and the Group 3 state title. PV won its first 16 games this season before Old Tappan snapped the streak in the opening round of the Bergen County Tournament. The Indians, anchored by Petro and Wong, as well as Shannon Culloo, Brianna Smith (Third Team All-County), Toriana Tabasco and Kelly Smith (Second Team All-County), then won 14 in a row, including their first state title since 2008 and sixth overall after beating Ocean City 48-45, giving them the Group 3 title and a berth in the Tournament of Champions, where they ultimately fell to Franklin by a score of 70-50.

By Jake Aferiat

Profile for PV Student Publication

"Class of 2017" Edition, June 2017  

"Class of 2017" Edition, June 2017