Jared Mitovich

Roughly one third of responses so far were among rising juniors, while nearly one fifth were among rising seniors. Roughly 13% of those who responded were rising sophomores; around 5% were among this year’s graduating class. The remaining responses were alumni, community members, or anonymous.

Community responds to Trailblazer form on Cowboy removal

June 24, 2020

On Tuesday, June 23, the Trailblazer published a Google form inviting community members to share their thoughts on the Board’s decision to remove the Cowboy nickname at Hills and the Indian mascot at Valley. Below are some selected responses.

Note: Due to the form being non-scientific, the Trailblazer chose to not make a quantitative estimate of those for and against the Cowboy’s removal. The majority of responses expressed opposition to removal.

Responses against removing the Cowboy

Kira Quigley, Hills Class of 2022

Keep the cowboy!! Understood that indian could be seen as offensive, but cowboy is not racist! We shouldn’t have to suffer just because valley does. – Kira Quigley”

Alessia Turelli, Hills Class of 2023

Alessia Turelli. I believe changing our mascots is the wrong thing to do at this particular time. The reason for the names was not in any interest to be racist, it was simply what our schools were built off of. Now due to this tragedy, our poor parents who pay taxes, will now have to pay for all of the work that’s has to be done to fix the Cowboy name. There is going to be a severe money problem and the BOE and whoever thought this was a good idea right now should have thought about this before putting it into affect. Making this decision behind the students back, during horrible times was one of the worst things the school could do.”

Maria Perez-Martinez, Hills Class of 2021

Maria Perez-Martinez: I don’t think they should remove a mascot that’s been part of our high school since it was even built. While it may “exclude” female representation, there is a history of cowboys being of different races. The first cowboys in north america were not white at all. Keeping the cowboy mascot does not “exclude” girls’ sports teams representing our school. We can easily have them be cowgirls or something along the lines of that. One thing we should change is our colors.”

Luke Miniatis, Hills Class of 2022

I feel this name change is unfair as the state hasn’t even consulted with students first. Instead of giving girls sport programs more money for new equipment and better practices they gave them what is a slap in the face by saying this for them when the only reason they did this is to look progressive and with the times which is super embarrassing in my opinion. If the real reason they did this was because of the fact the name Cowboys isn’t sexist but because it’s racist then the male no sense as the job of Cowboy was to heard cattle not the stuff you see in movie of them fighting Native Americans or them being sheriffs while trailblazer’s where the people who moved out west to steal and pillage Mexican and Native lands which is much more offensive. In general the school needs to check its history books and should feel ashamed of their decisions. -Luke Miniatis”

Marissa Mendola, Hills Class of 2021

Marissa Mendola
I do not believe that removing the cowboy mascot with solve any of the sexism issues within PHHS. the issues come from the unequal funding between boys and girls sports, and the unequal treatment and acknowledgment between boys and girls sports. The boys locker room was recently redone, but the girls was not and it is falling apart. The baseball team had their own field while the softball team had to walk to different locations for practice. The football team yearly funding is much more than the cheerleading yearly funding. Solving those issues will help with sexism in PHHS. You can not ruin cowboy country.”

Isabella Taglieri, Hills Class of 2022

I think that the mascots should stay because it is not only important for the students but it is also very important to the family’s back f Pascack Hills. For me it is very important because my grandparents are cowboys, my mom and aunt are cowboys, I am a cowboy now, and we want to let my sister have the amazing opportunity to become a cowboy. My family and I are and always will be cowboys no matter what the mascot is. Please reconsider keeping the mascots and think about it long and hard. Isabella Taglieri”

Connor Aherne, Hills Class of 2022

The fact that this decision was carried out right after the school year ended is the most concerning part for me. They knew students would be hurt and confused. They knew none of us were spreading hate from the symbol of a Cowboy. They knew that they were only doing this to look better for the media, in fear they would label the school as “racist” for such an innocent act. The sad part is, the student body, filled with Hills Pride, would have gladly stood up for the Pascack Valley Regional High School District if such comments were made, but they have instead turned on their student body by making such a crucial decision for their own school behind their backs. The students make the school, not the District.
– Connor Aherne”


Disappointed at the removal of the PH mascot, Cowboys. A cowboy is an honorable profession. It does not denote race, creed, religion, etc. Just as a hawk is a beautiful bird, a lion is a beautiful animal, those mascots are not in question anywhere as far as I am aware. And, how about the Raiders? In my view, It becomes an issue of mascot or no mascot. Certainly, most of us do not wish to offend anyone or see a community divided because of it. But, speaking personally, I would like to see the Cowboys remain as the PH mascot.”

Kylie Babb, Hills Class of 2023

Kylie Babb
I think that it’s great that Hills is taking measures to eliminate normalized racism and misogyny, but I’m not sure that removing the mascot is the best way to do this. I think that Hills should focus on the racist and misogynistic staff members inside the building to better benefit the students, and not just their media image.”

Megan Eichner, Hills Class of 2021

Hello, my name is Megan Eichner and I am an incoming Senior attending Pascack Hills. My family has lived in montvale for the last 22 years, with three children passing through Pascack Hills since 2008. As you can presume, being the Cowboys is important in our lives for It has been all we’ve known for so many years. To start, I’d like to make It know that I support the removal of the Pascack Valley Indians mascot due to the said racial connotations. Although, I believe the removal of the Pascack Hills Cowboy does not meet the same standard. I find It is actually disrespectful to compare the Indians to the matter of the Cowboys due to the racial problems behind the Indians background. With their more respectable name being Native Americans, I find that this ethnic group deserves more respect rather than the “Cowboy” being pinned as just as racially wrong. Being a Cowboy is not a race, religion, or gender that we should be concerned that it is concerning the public. Rather It is a lifestyle and a choice that goes back far in history to the development of our country. Some statements that were made by staff at Pascack Hills concerned me to their true understandings of the history of the Cowboy. One quote made by Cschwa stated that the Cowboy supports inequality because It does not include Women or people of color. It just so happens this statement is false and shows lack of research by BOE members. In history there is an in depth study of cowboys that were of color and women cowboys that made a living from the land. I find that this is actually very uplifting and should be taught more at Pascack Hills so we can appreciate our culture as the Pascack Hills Cowboys. Additionally, It upset me to see as a member of girls sports at Hills that Mr. Weiland stated this was his way of showing equality in the female sports in opposition from the male sports. I find discomfort in this decision because changing the mascot at Pascack Hills does not and will not change the culture in our high school. From the boys locker room having expensive renovations with luxury speakers to receiving grand representation in the schools media, It is clearly seen that there is bias in the system. Nevertheless, we did not ask for our mascot to be changed since this does not support our cause. As a woman in fight for equality in my own high school I’d like to see real action taken like renovating our locker rooms as you did the boys or promoting our events to the public. I find these are more beneficial ways to showcase equality at Pascack Hills rather than take away our beloved mascot the Cowboy. Thank you for reading and listening to my statement.”

Matthew Bourghol, Hills Class of 2021

The BOE is just feeling pressured by a couple of students, to change our school to conform to what they believe to be socially correct. There is nothing politically incorrect about cowboys. Our tax money shouldn’t be going to fund the school changing our mascot, and should be instead going towards creating a better environment for the whole school, not a couple of kids who are offended for no reason. I hate how these people expect other people to change, in order to make themselves feel comfortable. Nobody cares about whether or not you are comfortable. You’re not going to make it through life taking offense to everything you come across. Just move on and make yourself useful to society. Oh, and my name is Matthew Bourghol.”

Lindsay Marson, Hills Class of 2022

The trailblazer article said that the cowboy mascot excludes people of color and women, but thats incorrect. Anyone can be a cowboy, the fact that people are thinking like that is the problem, not the mascot itself. Cowboy doesn’t have to be a gendered term, when you hear the word spokesman you could think of a man, or a women, or someone of color. It is a term with a gendered root but it doesn’t have to be perceived as gendered.
Lindsay Marson”


“It’s obvious that Valley’s Indians mascot was racist and needed to be changed. But you have to really stretch your logic to think that the Cowboys needed to go, too. This vote was held during the summer intentionally, to make sure none of us students had a say in it, because they knew we wouldn’t approve. Changing our mascot means changing our brand, our merch, it means changing all our scoreboard and everything in the school that says “Cowboys” or has our old colors. This will waste tens if not hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ dollars only to please the very few people who thought that the Cowboys were “exclusive.” The only people who were excluded here were the students. The taxpayers of Woodcliff Lake and Montvale will be paying for this needless change.”

Yunsung Lee, Hills Class of 2022

If changing the cowboy means spending excessive money redoing art and construction around hills, making new merchandise, or other rebranding, no. There’s absolutely nothing offensive about the cowboy mascot and it clearly only was taken down because the valley one was. There’s plenty of more pressing issues the school currently has that could be solved with the money that will be used to rebrand the school. In terms of keeping the mascot for “hills pride”, I really don’t care. Money is the issue. Yunsung Lee Class of 2022″

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Responses in favor of removing the Cowboy

[Editor’s note: The Trailblazer originally published this collection of comments that included a vulgar quote. The quote has since been removed.]

Sonia Balani, Hills Class of 2022

“I am Sonia Balani and I understand in full the reason for the change of mascot names across both schools. Like some other students, I was initially upset about the changing, more specifically about cowboys. Technically, original cowboys were POC, and if I’m being honest I don’t think I’ve heard many women say, nor said myself, that the word cowboys excludes women. However, I do think that cowboys needs to be removed, as the whole rivalry between Indians and cowboys needs to be erased due to the racist connotations the names have. I am for the change, as it is a progressive change in the right direction. People can say why does this matter now, or why wasn’t this talked about before? But, in reality, people have been talking about it, and it’s good that this change is happening now rather than being pushed off even further. All in all, I support the choice the BOE has made. I am frankly more upset by the rest of the student response due to the insensitivity and ignorance some responses have had, but I know that I support the decision to amend the names.”

Nora Khatami, Hills Class of 2020

“I think it is incredibly disturbing how students are in favor of keeping a mascot that represents the killing of thousands of innocent Native Americans. It is also very sad how the first ever petition students are signing are for the keeping of the mascot and not black lives matter. Again, it is sad that students and even alumni are more vocal about keeping a mascot instead of talking about bigger, more important global issues.”

Aria Chalileh, Hills Class of 2021

While I love being a Pascack Hills Cowboy, I am in support of the removal of a mascot. I believe that our mascot, as well as the Pascack Valley mascot, have racist undertones, whether intentional or not. It’s important to step away from these mascots and reflect on the history of Cowboys & Indians in order to learn & grow as a district. I believe that we can choose a mascot that is more representative of district values, allowing us to move towards a more inclusive school environment.”

Rebecca Fiore, Hills alumnus

Former PHHS student here. This was a great decision made by BOE and if these students who are upset by it really cared they would have been at the meeting. This is an absurd and racist trope that needs to go. Plus I don’t know one single cowboy in NJ.”

Rima Desai, Hills Class of 2013

“I graduated in 2013 from Pascack Hills. As one of the few people of color in my grade, my time at Hills was all about surviving the blatant racism and heavy-handed micro-aggressions at hills. Now, as an adult, it’s easy to reflect upon what I could have done or should have said. I’m will not make that same mistake again. The “cowboys” vs. “indians” is racist. My family background is from India; it’s RACIST to call Native Americans “indians” to not only my people but theirs. I fully support the removal of the hills and valley mascots and hope that my high school will be a more WELCOMING place for POC and BiPOC. It’s absolutely disgusting that administrators would allow students and parents to hold a protest with Trump signs; there are probably countless POC students that feel unsafe because of the familiar faces advocating for a racist mascot with Trump flags waving in the wind. I encourage the administration to not only punish the students that were protesting but immediately remove the current mascots.”

Laurie Malkin, Hills Class of 1986

As a member of the Class of ’86, I wholeheartedly support the change. Not once during my time as a high school student was there any historical or community context offered as to why our mascots were the Cowboys and Indians. And I find it hard to believe that they were chosen and accepted for any reason other than that they were then socially acceptable mascots/rivals at the time, saddled with all the stereotypes and bias of the day. It’s not like the Indians were being honored for their contributions to the region with the use of the mascot and, let’s be real, there were no cowboys in Woodcliff Lake and Montvale. Farmers, sure. But cowboys? It is past time to retire Indians, Cowboys, and other racist, culturally insensitive, and sexist tropes. The community (and the educational system in particular) owes it to our kids to teach and encourage inclusiveness. The Pascack Valley area is home to many historical sites of the American Revolution, so my suggestion…..why doesn’t at least one of the region’s mascots become the Revolutionaries?!”

Shariany Then, Hills Class of 2022

If you are white you have no say on whether the mascot should be kept or not. This actually should’ve happened a longg time ago, and the reactions and protests following this are actually disgusting. Most of this school is caucasian and they do not get a say because this mascot OBVIOUSLY isn’t offensive to THEM. This is a great step to better hills and i’m absolutely disgusted by my fellow classmates. Most of the people protesting were white as well, people need to educate themselves. These people should take the effort they’ve been putting into this, and put into the BLM movement instead. That is more important.”

Beck Kerdman, Hills Class of 2020

I am strongly in favor of removing the mascot. The PV Indian is clearly a racist caricature, and cowboys are the group that historically terrorized Natives. The idea that we should be proud of a group of people who enacted the genocide of an entire culture is crazy. We have a lot to be proud of. Choosing to be proud of the worst parts of our history minimizing everything else we do.
Beck Kerdman”

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