Celebrating 50 Years of Hills Pride


PHHS Class of 1981 Graduates

Hundreds of past Cowboys came together in a sea of brown and orange in the school to celebrate fifty years of excellence at Pascack Hills High School on Saturday, October 18.

“The day far exceeded my expectations on so many levels. With around 400 former employees and former students on hand, it made for a great day of reminiscing and remembering,” Mr. deMarrais commented after the event. PHHS was the place where so many alumni gathered together to share memories and remember the place they called home for four years. Current students arrived early and waited around the school as older and younger former students came in and ecstatically greeted friends they have not communicated with since high school. The current students took the alumni on a tour to show them changes that have been made in the school and gave them time to share fond memories from their time as a Cowboy.

During a presentation in the auditorium, former teachers and current teachers spoke about their experiences at Hills and what they cherish and admire about the school. Former principal, Mr. DiPaola, said, “Students were great. They accepted all the challenges offered and didn’t make excuses. They would get knocked down but would always prevail and get right back up. Winning wasn’t everything, but the will to win was.” He said it was things like that that made him delighted to go to a job he loved every morning. Mr. Buccino added that the foundation of the past fifty years has been “the students that graced the halls and the teachers who have been the heart and soul of Hills.”

“A good school is one that is always trying to get better,” Mr. DiPaola said about the changes made at Pascack Hills. All of the alumni at the event, in addition to the administrators, recognized differences throughout the school. Todd Hassold and Joe Bosch, alumni from the class of 1968 and 1969, agreed that the biggest difference they noticed was the school itself and the parking lot were both bigger. Shira Citron, Allyson Stevenson, and Wendy Stuart Schwartz, three women from the class of 1992, mentioned that the biggest difference since they were students is the large lockers and new additions to the school. Mr. deMarrais mentioned that some of Hills’ various changes and advancements in the past years include new labs, gyms, a media center from the 2007 construction, cutting-edge technology from Apple, and being the first school in New Jersey to do a virtual school day.

In the earlier years of the school like the ‘60s and ‘70s, graduates said that the popular sports were football and wrestling. Likewise, wrestling, football, and basketball were the sports Cowboys attended in 1992. However, some sports like volleyball and swimming were not offered, and also, there were no female sports teams in the early years of the school. Clubs like Debate and Student Government were established in 1968 and are still prominent clubs today, but other clubs and programs have been created in late previous years like Robotics or Theatre.

Overall, the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary was a remarkable success. Mr. deMarrais voiced, “Hills today is continuing the tradition of academic excellence.” That tradition of excellence was ubiquitous at the celebration and expressed by many. The hundreds of alumni and teachers in the school on that day spanned fifty years, yet they all agreed that they loved their time at Hills as spirited Cowboys and are glad to be celebrating fifty years of excellence and Hills pride.