Family Dinner Night: Montclair Schools Clear Calendar

Find out what you need to do for this second annual event.


If you are the parent of a child, you will find Wednesday, Sept. 12 void of any afterschool activities, meetings, and sports practices. There will be no homework either—for any grade. 

The “freeing-up” of the school calendar is in honor of Montclair’s second-annual district-wide Family Dinner Night.

The idea of Family Dinner Night was initially put forth last year by Mary Emanuelli, a mother of four and the former School PTA president.

She got the idea from nearby Verona, which is now in its 10th year of hosting Family Dinner Night.

After getting approval from Acting Superintendent Dr. Clarence Hoover, members of the Montclair PTA Council had to—again this year—undertake the seemingly herculean task of clearing the K-12 calendars for the date.

And they did it.

"There will be no school-related evening meetings or events scheduled that night," Emanuelli said. "There will not be any homework assigned that day due on the 13th."  

Beth Wilensky, co-chair of the Montclair PTA Council, said it's important for families to connect at the end of the day, not only on Family Dinner Night but on as many nights of the week as possible.

"I know that with my daughters, when they get home from school, the last thing they want to talk about is school or how their day went," she said. "You hear the obligatory 'okay'—and it really is just one word.

"Often when I pick them up we are running to other activities or appointments so I have other things on my mind too and the priority at that time is to get from point A to point B," she said. "When we sit down for dinner, I am more apt to get information out of them and we are able to have a conversation about what happened."

Wilensky said their family dinners may not last long or even be homemade, but her children know that when it's "family dinner," the table is set, grace is said, the TV is off, and manners must be observed.

"It was a tradition that I grew up with and one that I hope to pass along to my daughters," she said.

What do you think? Will you participate in Family Dinner Night? Tell us in the comments section below. And take our poll!


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