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Families reunite with students, explore campus

  • Family time
    Family time
    Families enjoy a picnic lunch in the shadow of the Wren Building on Saturday. The lunch was part of W&M's 2013 Family Weekend, which included numerous events around campus such as performances, lectures and sporting events.
    Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Presidential greeting
    Presidential greeting
    President Taylor Reveley (right) greets parents and students at the picnic.
    Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Performing for parents
    Performing for parents
    Students perform during the Harvest Moon Festival, held on Friday night. The East Asian celebration of abundance and togetherness dates back 3,000 years and includes a play with dances and fight scenes that explains the festival and the legends behind it.
    Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • W&M fans
    W&M fans
    Two students perform as part of the Harvest Moon festival.
    Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Singing skills
    Singing skills
    An a capella group gets ready to take the stage during the "W&M Sings!" showcase, held at the Lake Matoaka Amphitheatre over Family Weekend.
    Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Performing for parents
    Performing for parents
    An a capella group performs for a full house at the Lake Matoaka Amphitheatre during Family Weekend.
    Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • On the lake
    On the lake
    A family kayaks together on Lake Matoaka during Family Weekend.
    Photo by Graham Bryant, J.D. '16

Under a beautifully clear sky, William & Mary students and their families flocked to campus to celebrate and explore the College during Family Weekend 2013, which began Sept. 20.

Family Weekend, an annual tradition, offers a myriad of events – including classes, sports, lantern and Wren Chapel tours, cultural events, concerts, and canoeing– to introduce families to life on-campus with their students. 

{{youtube:medium:left|mH4IRtOFDmk, Family Weekend 2013: Campus Chatter}}

The events began on Friday after registration for families, where many out-of-state families arrived early to get a look around campus and the town of Williamsburg. Professors offered sample lectures in topics ranging from biology to anthropology to government, and in the evening, brave families were able to go on a lantern-led tour of Colonial Williamsburg.

Saturday’s activities began with an address by President Taylor Reveley at Phi Beta Kappa Hall, welcoming parents and family to the festivities and having talks with parents afterward. His speech was well-received by the families present.

“The welcome address was really fantastic,” said Brian McGuinness, whose son Matt is a freshman.

Matt McGuinness added: “Reveley is always great.”

The day started for many people with a picnic out on the lawn in front of the Wren Chapel, where parents met their children and decided where the day was going to be spent. While some were willing to explore and keep a flexible schedule, others had more of an idea of what they wanted to do. Touring the president’s house was a popular option, as was attending the show choir concert, looking into the international expo in the Campus Center and simply wandering through campus and Colonial Williamsburg.

Deborah and Roland Gille, parents of sophomore Kali Gille, enjoyed the picnic and caught up. Both parents and students were glad to reunite and discuss classes thus far.

“It’s been crazy,” Kali Gille, a marine biology major, admitted. “Every moment is busy around here; there’s never a dull moment.”

Matt McGuinness agreed. “It’s been good,” he told his parents. “Not overly stressful. At least, not yet.”

Among the multitude of events offered, the international expo study-abroad fair at the Campus Center’s Trinkle Hall attracted many families with students checking out the myriad options for W&M’s international programs. Thanks to the more than 30 programs lasting from summers to semesters to whole academic years in 23 countries, Trinkle Hall was packed with both presenters and interested students. With connections from Germany to China, there was something for everyone.

Alex Mainardi ’16 was especially interested in the program to India, where he wanted to learn Hindi. “It’s one of the lesser known cultures,” he said. “I’ve taken seven years of Chinese; India is my next project.”

On the other end of campus, the “William & Mary Sings!” concert enchanted audiences at the Matoaka Amphitheatre as visitors had the opportunity to paddle kayaks over the lake.

{{youtube:medium:left|UIPdDXHY26M, Family Weekend 2013: On The Lake}}

Jacob Headley ’17 and his father, John Headley ’89, took a break from the crowded international expo to battle the breeze in a pair of kayaks.

“We’ve had a great time this family weekend. We’ve gone out to lots of great places to eat, gone to Colonial Williamsburg, gone to plenty of great programs, and now we’re out here on the lake,” Jacob Headley said.

“The concert is wonderful! We can hear it very well from the amphitheatre while here on the lake,” said Jeffrey Buffkin, Baptist Collegiate Ministries campus minister, who was kayaking on the lake with his wife, Melanie Buffkin, and children, Jeff Buffkin ’17 and Megan Buffkin.

“Since I am on staff at the College, we get the opportunity to see Jeff more often than some parents. But I must say that we still miss him even though we’ve seen him a few times, so it’s good to be out here for a couple hours,” he added.

Beyond kayaking, W&M Recreational Sports offered stand-up paddle boarding lessons to families. The area around the dock was a sea of white paddleboards, multicolored kayaks, and more than one wet dad drying off on the dock after a paddleboard capsized.

Saturday’s events concluded with tailgating, pep band songs, and a football game against Rhode Island that ended with a 20-0 victory for the Tribe, delighting alumni and student fans alike.

Sunday, the campus events finally concluded with a variety of events, including a number of sporting events, receptions hosted by the Baptist Collegiate Ministry and Catholic Campus Ministries, ballroom dance lessons and a 5K “Marrow-thon” to benefit the annual Alan Bukzin Memorial Bone Marrow Drive.

Graham Bryant, J.D. '16 contributed to this story.