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The Smoke Signal Pascack Valley High School

June 2015 Volume XI, Issue I

“Where there’s smoke there’s fire”

Inside this issue New Editor in Chief announced for next year

Page 6 PV senior aids Dominican families

Page 3 Top 10 PV sports stories of this year

Year-end edition

Marking periods are history

No mandatory exams, pair of “virtual days” part of new plan By Jamie Ryu Staff Writer

The Pascack Valley administration has decided to get rid of marking periods and mandated midterm and final exams. After a large percentage of the school’s population refused the PARCC, Mr. Erik Gundersen, the superintendent of schools, felt that “it was a reaffirmation that a change needed to be made” to the way schools run. “It’s antiquated,” Gundersen said of the way schools currently run. “The purpose of marking periods has really moved. There is no purpose.” Changes were approved by the Board of Education at its meeting on June 8, and students will have one final grade at the end of the year. The administration will determine dates to evaluate student progress and to determine the senior class valedictorian. There will also be set dates for changes in semester courses and for health classes.

Hunterdon Central High School in Flemington has already implemented this and has seen no significant positive or negative effects on grades, Gundersen said. “As long as you master the content at some point, that’s the important piece,” Gundersen said. “The idea is that we’re trying to reduce unnecessary stress for

students.” Along with this change, midterms and finals will no longer be mandated. While departments can individually decide to administer an exam, there will be no specific dates set aside for the tests. The district will also be will be mandating two virtual days, something it experimented with last school year.

Next year, teachers will have more leniency to design their own classrooms and will be allowed to submit proposals to the administration. Administration also has decided to be less lenient with attendance during “Pascack Period” in the 2015-2016 year. This year’s new schedule implementations will continue into the 2015See CHANGES on Page 7

Sending smoke signals to our former editor in chief By Justin Cook Editor in Chief

at Pascack Valley was brought to the forefront of the minds of both students and the administration. In response to this, Gundersen and the rest of the administration have been working furiously to promote tolerance within the school system. They are currently in contact with several organiza-

It’s hard to imagine a young David Remnick, current editor of The New Yorker, walking through the same halls of Pascack Valley that we walk through everyday. It’s hard to imagine a young Remnick attending the PV football games or going to the school pep rallies; however, it’s especially difficult to imagine a young Remnick serving as editor in chief of this very paper,  The Smoke Signal, close to four decades ago. For those unfamiliar, Remnick is a PV graduate who has led a multi-decade spanning career that is as influential as it is fascinating. In 1981, he graduated from Princeton University and quickly found a job

See BERGEN on Page 7

See EDITOR on Page 3

Smoke Signal file photo

Students gather in the cafeteria during a lunch period early this school year. School officials are considering tweaks to make lunch and other schedule features more efficient.

PV officials visit Bergen CC #PeaceinPV spurs trip to Center for Peace, Justice, and Reconciliation

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pvsmokesignal.com Twitter: @pvsmokesignal

of Pascack Valley High School, and Mr. Joseph Orlak, the Supervisor of Instruction in the district, went to Bergen Community College in order to learn about its tolerance program at its Center for By Jamie Ryu Peace, Justice, and RecStaff Writer onciliation. On May 26, Mr. Erik After  The Smoke SigGundersen, the Superin- nal  published an open tendent of Schools in the letter to the school writPascack Valley Regional ten by Pascack Valley’s School district, Mr. Tom Human Rights League, De Maio, the principal the issue of tolerance


June 2015

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Smoke Signal file photo

Rocco Swatek gains some tough yards against Passaic Valley last football season. As the heated Public/Non-public debate rages on, it was ruled that PV will not play DePaul next season and instead will face Passaic Tech.

PV released from playing DePaul next year in football By Jake Aferiat Sports Writer Last season, the Pascack Valley Indians played one game against a Catholic school and lost 35-14 to DePaul on Sept. 19. But come next season, DePaul will not have the opportunity to play Pascack Valley for the first time in three seasons. It will also mark the first time in six seasons that PV  will not have a non-public school on its  schedule after the  leaders of the Big North Conference made a ruling  last week granting  relief to four schools slated to take the field against non-public schools next season. The three other schools granted relief were Passaic Tech, Old Tappan, and Wayne Hills. In fact, Passaic Tech will be the replacement for DePaul on PV’s football schedule next season.  “[We are] very happy about (the Big North’s decision),” PV principal

Mr. Tom DeMaio said. Last season, PV’s new opponent, Passaic Tech, went 10-2, good enough to propel it to the North 1, Group 5 title game  against Montclair, in which it  lost 26-14. That was one of the only low points for a Passaic Tech team that shut out four of its opponents and allowed no more than 13 points in any of their wins. The loss to DePaul was one of the only blemishes on PV’s record last year as the Indians (102) captured their second straight North 1, Group 4 state title. DePaul finished 8-4 last season. It opened the season with five straight victories — four of which came against public schools. All four of its losses then came  in succession at the end of its regular season against local non-public powerhouses

The Smoke Signal Staff 2014-2015 Editor in Chief: Justin Cook Assistant Editor in Chief: Vanessa Rutigliano Managing Editor: Lauren Cohen Features Editor: Brianna Ruback Adviser: Mr. Bill Rawson Principal: Mr. Tom DeMaio Website: pvsmokesignal.com Twitter: @pvsmokesignal The Smoke Signal welcomes input from all members of the Pascack Valley High School community. Please contact Mr. Rawson for information (wrawson@pascack.k12.nj.us). 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.

Bergen Catholic, St. Joe’s, Paramus Catholic, and Don Bosco. The Spartans rebounded to win their three playoff games and nail down the Non-public Group 2 state title. DePaul director of athletics Joe Lennon did not return two phone calls requesting comment. DeMaio is a staunch believer in the fact that as a public school, PV should not be forced to play against DePaul. DeMaio’s issue is not that the Indians can’t compete with the Spartans or another Catholic school. In fact, in 2012 when the Indians went 11-1 and lost in the state championship, they beat DePaul, and over their last six seasons, the Indians have gone 2-4 against non-publics. Most public schools haven’t had even such modest success against non-publics. “Our position  is that the time has come that the guidelines by which the parochial schools are playing by don’t fit [them] playing a public school,” DeMaio said. In an interview three weeks ago, DeMaio expressed confidently, “we are also anticipating a change in transfer rules and league alignment.”  And if the Big North didn’t make the decision it did? “We were prepared to explore all options,” DeMaio said. Now they may not have to.

reporting for The Washington Post. Spending many years reporting on topics ranging from sports to style, Remnick eventually became the paper’s Moscow correspondent. Remnick’s time in Moscow proved to be an extremely important part of his life, as it gave him the inspiration for his first book “Lenin’s Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire.” The 1993 book was well received by critics and casual book readers alike, and even went on to win a Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction. He made the switch over to  The New Yorker  in 1992, after working for  The Washington Post for 10 years. In 1998, Remnick became the editor of  The New Yorker, a position that he still holds today. While I’m not going to pretend I read the  The New Yorker, unless chuckling quietly to myself when looking at the cartoons counts as reading, I’m also not going to pretend to be unimpressed by Remnick’s obviously impressive career. To think that such a revered and accomplished man came from such humble beginnings is very encouraging. I wish I could give you some great big insight into Remnick’s time here at PV, but unfortunately current and former Smoke Signal Editor in Chiefs don’t hold a key to a secret club where we all get together time and time again to discuss our experiences throughout high school. Sorry… it just doesn’t work like that (although now that we’re talking about it I really wish it did.) But what I am able to talk about is an interview Remnick gave with NPR (in February), in which he briefly spoke about his time with The Smoke Signal. Remnick said, “Very few people were interested in the idea of a high school newspaper.” “I regret to say that it was called  The Smoke Signal, the newspaper, because we were the Pascack Valley Indians. And it’s completely wrong

and I apologize for it,” Remnick added perhaps half-jokingly. He goes on to say how he is unsure if the paper still holds that same name, so Mr. Remnick, if by some strange chance you are reading this and you didn’t quite figure it out yet, yes, we are still The Smoke Signal. While some very major changes have occurred to The Smoke Signal since Remnick’s time with the paper, perhaps the most evident being that it has gone from a print to a mostly online format, our name has always remained the same. Arguments here at PV have been brought up in the past regarding not only the paper’s name, but also the school’s mascot. Some argue that both are offensive to Native American people, while others make a case to keep the names.  In 2004, a vote was held on whether or not the school mascot, an Indian, should be changed. About 67 percent of the student and faculty population decided to keep the current mascot, and the issue was never put to a vote again. We here at The Smoke Signal  hear both sides of the argument, and are currently in the process of examining the possibility of a name change. Above all else, what we want is to open a dialogue between our school and Remnick. To have him come visit us, and perhaps even speak to us about his own life and experiences growing up in this area, would be truly special and unforgettable. So what do you think Mr. Remnick, will you join us? (Editor’s note: Remnick did indeed email Justin Cook less than 24 hours after this piece ran. He said that : 1. No, he wasn’t kidding about The Smoke Signal’s name. 2. He probably would be unable to visit PV. 3. The Smoke Signal staff would be welcomed to visit The New Yorker offices.)


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Tribute to Best of SNO honorees On Pages 2, 3, and 6, we recognize the five articles that were honored by School Newspapers Online through its “Best of SNO” showcase. SNO is host for the websites of about 2,000 school publications, including that of The Smoke Signal. Five submissions from The Smoke Signal were accepted into Best of SNO this year, including Justin Cook’s open letter to PV graduate and New Yorker Editor David Remnick (continued below from Page 1), which received the year-end, uber-distinction of “Best of Best of SNO” in the category of “Best Shout-Out.” The Smoke Signal website was was awarded with SNO’s “Excellence in Writing” Badge. To see these stories as they appeared on The Smoke Signal website, as well as the over 200 other articles that were published on the site this year, please visit pvsmokesignal.com.

“Vaca Flaca!” “Vaca Flaca!” Jessica Powell walked down the dirt roads of Las Canas in the Dominican Republic amid the chants. At the start of the summer, the chants following her had been suspicious and insulting, rather than the  endearing nickname of “skinny cow.” Derogatory whispers of “gringa” had been directed towards Powell just weeks before. However, Powell had earned the respect of  the people of Las Canas  after she introduced her project. For 25 days over the summer, Pascack Valley senior Powell changed the lives of five Dominican families. Bringing a brand new idea for a micro loan project, Powell purchased four cows and a pregnant pig with over $4,000 she was able to raise during the previous school year. The families would sell the milk from these cows, making a profit to be able to pay back their loans and keep some of the money for themselves. In summer 2013, Powell had visited  the Dominican Republic with a volunteer group but she had some issues with the projects they were doing. “The work was designed so that American teenagers who were on vacation could do it,” Powell said, who will be attending Yale next year. “And when we’d be doing the work, there would be men who had families to support watching us do the work that they could do better and that bothered me.”

By Evan Jones Sports Writer

believes that his young sophomore has a shot to make a run in the Bergen Third singles player County tournament at Austin Davis has learned third singles. that hard work and com“Austin has so much petitiveness go a long way more control than he did in tennis. A year ago, Da- in the past and is very vis was a freshman on the competitive. He has emJV tennis team with var- braced the role of undersity ambitions. His goal dog this season,” added was to play varsity tennis Grapin. this year, and that is exDavis does have a This year, she had the walked the cow six miles actly what he has done. great chance to turn opportunity to go back home. The highway was Davis entered this sea- some heads at the Bergen with her own project. She next to the coastline, so son playing third singles, County tournament, bewas inspired by her fa- instead of walking it six but has spent most of the cause he will be returnvorite charity: the Heif- miles on the highway, he season playing second or ing to his normal spot er Foundation. The idea walked along the beach. even first singles. The at third  singles. Seniors behind this organization I met him on the beach. competition at first  and Josh Kasper and Roger is if one  makes a dona- We walked the cow home second singles is much Zlotolow will also be retion, they  receive a gift and it was the coolest ex- more intense than it is turning to their respecto send to any country of perience,” Powell said. at third  singles, but Da- tive spots. Davis credits their choice. When she first got to vis has embraced his role some of his success to However, there was the Dominican Repub- and is enthusiastic about these two seniors as well. no program like this for lic, Powell was expecting playing tougher oppo“Roger is the captain, the Dominican Repub- guidance from the proj- nents. but Josh certainly acts lic, where Powell knew ect director, but after “The competition is like one,” said Davis of she wanted to go, and it three days had passed, much better,” admitted his senior teammates. would have taken up to she knew he was going to Davis, “but I have to keep Davis relies on his three years for the project be of no help. grinding it out.” teammates to push him to be approved. Taking The next day, she got Davis has not only in practice and during ideas from previous proj- up and got started, walk- played in first  and secon matches, but the team ects done with the Heifer ing house to house to see singles matches, but he is also very close off the Foundation, Powell de- who was interested in has also found success court. cided to do it herself. participating, and taking in those matches. While “We have a lot of great The whole idea for pictures of every house to playing up, Davis has won personalities on the the project was to lend remember them. This day matches at second sin- team,” said Davis of his each participant a micro was the most interesting, gles and given opponents teammates. loan, which is a loan but Powell said, because she a run for their money at Grapin looks for Davis on a much smaller scale got to meet everyone. 1st singles. so that more people are Her favorite part of the “Playing up as a sophoSee TENNIS able  to participate and experience was getting more is impressive,” said on Page 8 pay it back. so close with the families coach Scott Grapin, who “Because these people that participated. are in extreme poverty, if “Once the project was you tell them, ‘Here, I’m pretty much settled, I going to loan you $8,000 didn’t have anything else or $80,000,’ they’re ei- to do and would spend ther going to agree be- hours with them,” Powcause they know they ell said. Her face lit up can never pay it back, talking about one particor they’re going to be so ular family that she grew daunted by that amount close with, especially the of money that they want daughters: Jennifer and nothing to do with it,” Hermione. Powell explained. On Jan. 26, Powell The most expen- heard some devastating sive cow her founda- news about this family. tion  bought cost  $1,240, Their cow, Julianna, had which is a relatively small eaten something that was price, and it is broken up detrimental for her in the over two years, making it pasture and died. The manageable for people to family has always been pay it back. extremely poor, and they “The best part was are now struggling more probably the day the cows than ever and will not be came home. One guy who able to pay back the loan. bought a cow — Tino Powell feels strongly — I met on the beach. about helping them and He couldn’t pay for the is asking for donations in transportation of the order for her to purchase Photo courtesy of Jessica Powell cow; he couldn’t take out a new cow for them, at no Jessica Powell poses for a picture with children from another small loan, so he cost to this family. a village in the Domincan Republic.

PV senior aids Domincan families By Lauren Cohen Managing Editor

Hard work pays off for tennis player


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< Smoke Signal file photos by CJ Guevarra, Samantha Riley, and Sophia Vellasco >


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Opinion: SAT tests not worth fretting over By Nina Henry Staff Writer

“Stupid!” “Wrong.” “Idiot mistake.” “First grade math.” “Really stupid!” “Idiot!” “Did you forget how to multiply- again?!” These comments weren’t made by some disparaging teacher. These were things that I found myself writing in my SAT math practice book last year. How had I gotten to the point where I was being so cruel to myself? I’d always enjoyed my classes and gotten good grades, so why was I feeling so helplessly stupid and hopeless all of a sudden? It had begun to feel like my life boiled down to a test score. After reading my score report, I convinced myself that all my problems would be solved if I could raise my math score by just a hundred points. So every incorrect practice question felt like a slap in my face. With every wrong answer, I could feel my college dreams slipping through my fingers. The thing is, nothing could be further from the truth. Every admissions officer I’ve ever talked to has said that there’s no hard and fast cut-off for admissible SAT scores, and some colleges don’t even look at SAT scores. One admissions reader told me, “We cover up the scores, make our judgments on the strength of the application, and check the scores later. We come up with the same verdict with or without the SAT scores.” I decided to take a harder look at the supposedly all-important test, and some glaring problems stood out to me.

Firstly, it all began to seem so commercialized. At every turn on the website, the College Board suggests their official test prep books. You even have to view their online store while registering for the test. This is coming from an organization that makes hundreds of millions of dollars a year. I started to feel less like a student and more like a customer. Whole industries have sprung up around standardized testing, and the frenzy shows no signs of slowing. Test prep is a $4 billion industry, and it makes its money by preying on fear and insecurity. Secondly, it’s long been argued that the tests are not accurate measurements of a student’s abilities. In an interview with Frontline, John Katzman of the Princeton Review suggests, “For most students, the problem is more the SAT itself than it is their math skill, their English skill or their ability to do college level work.” It’s true — at SAT courses I attended, instructors seemed more worried about test-taking strategies than actual academics. I didn’t learn to understand the nuance of new vocabulary, but was taught to spit back definitions in 30 seconds or less. I didn’t learn new math. Instead, probability lessons were applied to scoring strategies. So why was I letting College Board dictate my self worth? Because in today’s world of overachievers, I was made to feel that anything other than the best is worthless. “You’re in the top twenty percent, that’s amazing,” said my mom, confused. “Why are you crying?” “Because I need to be in the top five percent,” I bawled. Looking back, it seems like such a ridiculous thing to say, but that was really how I felt in the moment. And I know

that five percent wouldn’t have felt like enough, either, or even one. The nature of over-achieving is that there will be no moment when students sit back and say they’re satisfied with what they’ve achieved. The SAT makes it easy to compare your performance to that of others, or to your previous performance. Instead of feeling proud of their abilities, students pick the test apart question by question, point by point, wondering what difference a couple of questions could make. By quantifying education, the SAT ignores the most important part of high school: giving students a love for knowledge and learning. I wish I could attach a moral to this story and say that I learned to disregard our culture of testing and academic pressure, but I’d be lying. In the high-stress process of college admissions, it’s nearly impossible to reject the system. But I have learned to be much more forgiving of myself. Recently, I won an academic award, and my mother took me aside and very seriously said, “You haven’t changed between today and yesterday. You aren’t a different person. Do you understand?” I did understand — I finally realized that my validation had to come from myself, not arbitrary scores. Just as winning an award didn’t make me any smarter, getting a score I wasn’t happy with didn’t make me any dumber. I wish the SAT or the nature of standardized testing would change, but that doesn’t seem like it will happen any time soon. Instead, I hope students will stop stressing out so badly. I won’t ever find happiness in a test score, but I will find it in making peace with myself.

Out with the old, in with the new Editor in chief bids farewell, hands over the reins

years on the staff. First, I would like to thank Mrs. Bonnie Slockett, who served as faculty advisor during my first By Justin Cook three years with the paEditor in Chief per. She welcomed me During my four years with open arms onto the here at Pascack Valley, I paper’s staff and helped have been lucky enough me develop my own writto work on the staff of our ing abilities. Slockett alschool newspaper, The ways encouraged staffers Smoke Signal. I worked to write articles about as a staff writer during things they were interestmy first two years with ed in, while at the same the paper, before being time, always tried to have promoted to Arts and En- students step outside of tertainment editor in my their comfort zone. She junior year. Currently, I decided to leave her poserve as Editor in Chief of sition on the paper afThe Smoke Signal, which ter holding it for many I can proudly say is one of years, but has remained the greatest honors of my supportive of our current high school career. Smoke Signal efforts. Although I’ll be headNext, Mr. Bill Rawson ing off to school next year took over as faculty adat The College of New visor this year and went Jersey, I will never forget above and beyond the my time with the paper. call of duty. He joined I have learned so much the paper with the amabout writing, commu- bitious idea to have the nication, and journalis- paper make the jump tic skills throughout my from its traditional print-

ed format, to an online format, making it more topical and accessible to students. Not only did he succeed in doing this, but he also put together a large and talented group of writers who genuinely enjoy writing. He shaped and molded the paper into what it is today, and never failed to see the importance in shedding a light on major issues here at PV. Without these two people, my experience with The Smoke Signal wouldn’t have been nearly as rewarding as it was. At this time, I would also like to announce that the next Editor in Chief of The Smoke Signal will be our current Assistant Editor in Chief, Vanessa Rutigliano. Rutigliano joined the paper just this past school year, but she quickly proved to be one of the most reliable and hardest workers on The

Cook

Rutigliano

Smoke Signal staff. She devoted her time over this past summer to helping us bring “The Smoke Signal” online, and is one of the reasons why the paper had such a successful digital first year. From writing up last minute articles, to making polls, to editing other student’s articles, Rutigliano truly is the best person for the

job. The paper is in great hands with her and Rawson, who will be returning to his role as faculty advisor next year as well. I personally can’t wait to see how The Smoke Signal continues to evolve and grow in the future. The future is bright at PV, with The Smoke Signal providing a voice for the students.


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PV student self publishes book Brandon Alvarado has always was one of the few seniors participating in a senior project this year. For his project, he wrote a book of personal essays entitled “Please Fall In Love With Me (And Other High School Wishes).” One of the essays was published on The Smoke Signal. Below is an interview that Smoke Signal managing editor Lauren Cohen conducted with Alvarado in May when his project was nearing its completion.   Q: What is your book about? A: It’s a book of personal essays, sort of like a memoir, but it’s a bunch of essays based off of my experiences, where I talk about things from sexuality to friends to grades to my hopes for the future

and my experiences now throughout high school. Q: When did you decide you wanted to do a senior project? A: I decided I wanted to do a senior project, well I was thinking about it a couple months before it was offered and I didn’t know if I wanted to do it for a while, to be honest. Didn’t know if I wanted to do a book, or if I wanted to do stand up, or nothing at all because I didn’t know if I could take on writing a book because writing a book is a big project and I didn’t know if I wanted to stick with the project for a while, but it became a passion project, something I loved doing. So at the very last minute I decided I was going to do it because it was a great opportunity. Q: When did you get

the idea for it? A: I remember always wanting to in my high school career, especially towards the end. I love writing about my experiences and when I first heard of the senior projects, it was the first idea I had in my mind where I could write about my experiences and do it in a book. Q: Is it going to be published? A: Yes! It is going to be published on Amazon, and then from Amazon it will be expanded to Barnes and Noble, libraries, stuff like that. Hopefully, it should be published by the end of May. Q: What made you choose (English teacher Mr. Bill) Rawson as your mentor? A: I had Rawson last

year for the Honors Satire class and I always love hearing his perspective. I think he is– and I think he would agree– that he’s a very eccentric guy. It’s fun to work with him and hear his opinions and since I’m writing a book, especially with humorous essays, I thought he would enjoy it and that’s why I wanted to take on this project with him. All of the teachers are great and I’ve loved so many of them, but I just think he is the right fit for this. Q: What are you planning to study in college? A: I want to pursue stand-up and writing. I’m studying Media Culture and Communications in college, so I can maybe go somewhere in the media industry, but we’ll see where it takes me.

CHANGES From Page 1 2016 year with minor modifications. The newly introduced Pascack Period, while popular among students, presented issues of seniors not returning in time after lunch and students roaming the hallways under the pretense of being elsewhere. As a result, the administration has decided to adjust how Pascack Period is run and require more accountability. “Pascack Period is meant to have some freedom to it,” Mr. Tom De Maio, the principal of PV, said. “It’s meant

to have the ability for students to see teachers, do homework, and have some downtime. There needs to be a little more accountability without taking away some of these freedoms.” They are also planning to address the open letter written by the Human Rights League during the Pascack Period. The administration hopes to cultivate acceptance of differences of all kinds by implementing different ideas during Pascack Period, many of which come from students. Freshman Seminar during Pascack Period was also an issue. The curriculum for freshman

seminar will be reorganized and reworked to better fit students’ needs. It is possible that block days will be moved from Tuesdays and Wednesdays to Wednesdays and Thursdays. De Maio said students have indicated a disappointment that “Thursdays alway feel like Fridays.” While it has not been finalized, the Board is leaning towards changing block days to later in the week, he said. The number of block days will not change in the 2015-2016 year, he added. Pascack Valley will also be continuing with rotating schedules. With unit lunch, stu-

dents have seen longer lines and, as a result, a lack of time to eat. “Part of that is out of my control,” De Maio said. “A part of that is Pomptonian (the food service provider at Pascack Valley). I would like to see another server or two. I think it might help speed up the lines. There are also things students could do to help speed up this process.” Pre-ordering lunches and bringing lunch from home, De Maio felt, would shorten lines considerably. The administration will also be looking into adding seating for students where they can.

The feedback from the past year’s schedule change has been decidedly positive. “From the feedback I’ve gotten,” De Maio said, “the kids like in particular the block days because the classes have gotten into depth and some of the discussions have gotten very good and it eases up on their homework during the week.” The only changes that De Maio confirmed as a definite possibility is the shift in block days; however, future changes are a possibility. “We’re still examining everything,” DeMaio said.

tion consists of a group of professors at the college that focuses on resolving conflict through better dialogue between groups. “It’s probably not too different from a peer leadership program,” Gundersen said. “But most of it deals with areas of bias and intolerance, cultural or religious differences, things like that.” Founded in 2009, it has has focused largely on the Armenian genocide and how a denial of human rights among other thing factored into other

genocides and advocates integrating the information into classrooms. “One of their big focuses this year was the Armenian genocide,” Gundersen said, “and taking the historical aspect of the Armenian genocide and bringing it to modern day life.” It gave them an opportunity to discuss how to “take historical events and tie them to curricular events that help students form a more global, broader acceptance of others and their differ-

ences.” Gundersen found that “the amount of experience and expertise they had” as well as their “willingness to play an active role in helping Pascack Valley” was the biggest takeaway from the meeting. They plan to follow up with Bergen Community College on the resources that they are able to provide, including a program called “Teaching Tolerance,” a project founded in 1991 by the Southern Poverty Law Center that

provides free material to teachers that will help educate about tolerance and improve intergroup relations. “We have a twopronged approach,” Gundersen said. “Number one, solicit information from various resources and number two, gauge the pulse, the cultural of Pascack Valley High School.” “We’ll use that information,” he added, “along with the resources to help drive our program forward.”

BERGEN From Page 1 tions and will soon be reaching out to more. “The primary purpose of these interactions,” Gundersen said, “is to get information about a variety of different resources and what we’re going to do is bring in a larger group of people, students included, to be a part of the conversation on what we need to do moving forward.” The Center for Peace, Justice, and Reconcilia-

Photo by CJ Guerrara

Brandon Alvarado reads excerpts from his book, “Please Fall in Love with Me (And Other High School Wishes),” during the senior showcase in May. Alvarado’s book was self published as part of his senior project.


June 2015

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Top 10 PV sports stories of the year As the school year wraps up, The Smoke Signal sports writers were deciding how to end their year-long coverage of PV Sports and decided upon a “Top 10: PV Sports Style.” After long debates here are the Top 10 PV Sports Stories for the 2014-15 school year. 10. Girls Soccer 2OT win in state tournament:  Freshman Kelly Petro made a name for herself, scoring the game-winning, and only goal, in a 1-0 double-overtime victory for PV, over Wayne Hills in the quarterfinal round of the North Jersey, Section 1, Group 3 Tournament in Montvale. — Jake Aferiat 9. Coach Al Coleman’s 100th win: Early in the boys basketball season, during the John Carty Tournament held in Mahwah, the PV boys basketball team defeated Mahwah 73-66. This was just no ordinary win, as it was coach Al Coleman’s 100th win as a coach. After a strong overall performance in the same tournament, Matt Domville was named to the all-tournament team. Other major contributors to the team during the season were Colin Dedrick, Eric Zicarelli, Jon Piccinich, Legend Dominguez, Noah Baumgarten, Kyle McManus, and Matt Vasel. — Evan Jones 8. Boys Bowling League Championship:  This past November, the Boy’s Bowling Team won the league championship for the second year in a row after defeating Bergenfield. The team, led by captain Ryan Vasel, and seniors Justin Cook and Joe Ballesteros, had a very successful season. When asked about the season, coach Judy Lucia said, “Ryan Vasel will be sorely missed and will leave big shoes to fill. Definitely looking forward to hopefully winning the league title again next year.” — Jaimie Smith 7. DePaul released from football sched-

ule: Come next season, DePaul will not have the opportunity to play Pascack Valley for the first time in three seasons. It will also mark the first time in six seasons that PV will not have a non-public school on its schedule after the leaders of the Big North Conference made a ruling granting relief to four schools slated to take the field against non-public schools. “[We were] very happy about (the Big North’s decision),” PV principal Tom DeMaio said. — Jake Aferiat 6. Chris Miele and Lydia Christiano reach milestones in lacrosse:  In the spring, Lydia Christiano and Chris Miele, both seniors, achieved major milestones during the 2015 lacrosse season. Christiano, a midfielder, scored her  100th career goal on Thursday, April 30, against Montclair Kimberley Academy. It was her fourth goal of the game. Miele notched  his 100th career point (goals and assists) during the 2015 season as well. — Claudia Ralph 5. Girls swimming secures league title:  The girls swimming team won its  fourth straight league title. Finishing the season with a record of 9-2. The team also made it as far as they have ever been in the state tournament, advancing all the way to the sectional final. — Calvin Ralph 4. Boys XC league title: During the fall season, the boys cross country capped off their undefeated dual meet season by winning the Big North National Division league title. This league title win was the first for the boys PV team since the late 90s. The win was anchored by Nurlan Herburger (second place), Jake Denbeaux (fourth), and Jeff Roberts (10th). The other varsity contributors throughout the year were Chris Carcich, Jake Boyle, AJ Hall, Evan Jones, and Luke Denbeaux. The boys team

Smoke Signal file photos

The PV football team, pictured above, captured the North 1, Group 4 football title for the second straight year, which was chosen by the Smoke Signal sports staff as the top PV sports story of the year. Also making the Top 10 were the cross country team winning the league title and the softball team’s run to the North 1, Group 3 sectional title game. edged out Demarest and Old Tappan by 4 points each. — Evan Jones 3. Softball upsets rival Old Tappan in sectional semifinal:  In the second round of the state playoffs, the softball team, seeded No. 10 in the section, staged a dramatic comeback against No. 2 Old Tappan to win and advance by a score of 4-3. The Indians were down 3-1 going into the top of the seventh inning, but scored three consecutive runs in order to take back the lead and upset their rival. Senior Dana Shulman had two RBI singles in the game, and the team went on to top No. 3 Mahwah, 3-1, and advance to the state sectional finals against eighth-seeded  Sparta, where it fell 5-2. — Kyle Comito

2. Baseball team is League Champ: A walk-off single by senior Ron Villone clinched the league title for the Indians in a 3-2 win over Teaneck. The bottom of the seventh started with a double from Carson Weis, who advanced to third on a wild pitch. Junior Jon Piccinich drove in Weis on an RBI single on the next pitch. “It was a great win for the team. It goes to show how when we may be down, we are never out until it’s over,” Piccinich said. — Calvin Ralph 1.  Football State Championship:  PV football beat Paramus for the second straight year, 22-6, in the North 1, Group 4 state final at MetLife Stadium. The game was highlighted by junior wide receiver Mike Pimpinella’s 28-yard one

handed touchdown catch on fourth down. Jorge Cortes capped off his stellar season with a 160-yard performance on 35 carries. “We talk about legacy and how it’s never been done before, winning twice in a row, and that’s what we did,” Cortes said. — Calvin Ralph TENNIS from Page 3 to be a leader on and off the court in his own right for the next two seasons. “Now that Austin has lots of varsity experience, he should be even more successful in the future,” said Grapin, who looks to improve his team each year. With lots of varsity experience and the drive to win, the sky is the limit for Davis, who still has two more years to achieve his future goals.

"Year-End" Edition, June 2015  

The year-end (and only) print issue for the 2014-15 school year. This issue is notable for the lead story about changes for the follow year...

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