Back to School Night brings together community for first time in three years

Alex Bentley and Ella Persky


Parents and student-club-run food stands gathered on the field for Thursday’s Back to School Night Picnic, a food-filled “kickoff” with everything from pepperoni pizza and boba to rugelach and samosas.

The event was MVHS’s first Back to School Night since 2019, due to the pandemic: For the past two years, it was held over Zoom.

“Getting to see your child’s teacher in person gets the energy going,” said Cindy Zinn, PTSA co-president. “You just feel a little bit more connected to your student and the school.”

Photo by Naina Srivastava

After an hour-and-a-half of eating and introductions, parents visited each of their children’s classes. Teachers presented lesson plans, shared class curriculum, and answered lingering questions in each eight-minute visitation period.  

“Parents care a lot about their students, and I don’t want to mess anything up,” said Arielle Martinka, a biology teacher, before the event. “But, I think it’s nice for these parents to connect with their students and see what their students are going through during the day.”

According to Zinn, the PTSA struggled with ensuring there was enough food, relaying reliable information to teachers, and having enough space because after three years in a pandemic, it was hard to predict event turnout.

“We tried to make more of the activities outside,” said Daniella Quiñones, an assistant principal. “We’ve moved the food and other intro events onto the grass field, and we encourage[d] mask-wearing for anyone who is immunocompromised.”

Photo by Naina Srivastava

And the efforts from PTSA and administration proved successful: Assistant Principal Heather Morelli said around 1,000 eager parents showed up on campus, a “definite success” after two years of virtual Back to School Nights. 

“Parents should take the chance to learn more, and meet the teachers face-to-face. I think that’s pretty special to have that opportunity,” Zinn said.