When President W. Taylor Reveley III opened his home up to curious families on Oct. 3, he did more than show them his front parlor—he welcomed them into the William and Mary community.
"Are you sure we can go inside?" one mother asked her son, her hand hesitating on the doorknob.
"Of course," he said. "Don’t you want to see it? I heard both Jefferson and Washington ate in the dining room."
Family Weekend, held Oct. 3-5, opened with the President's Welcome Reception in the Wren Yard. The event boasted food, drinks and dozens of families that ducked in and out of the Wren building and the President's House for tours. Fathers, mothers, grandparents, brothers and sisters all posed for pictures with their students in front of the College's historic buildings before venturing down Duke of Gloucester Street into Colonial Williamsburg, or heading toward the terrace of the Sadler Center to take in the cool sounds of the band Steel Train.
If neither sounded intriguing, there were a half dozen more events to choose from: field hockey, slam poetry and swing dance—something for every member of the family.
"Although the number of registered attendees decreased this year, it was still a great success," said Laura Sauvain ('09), who, along with Richard Walsh ('10), served as a student chair of Family Weekend. "Parents and families from as far away as California came to spend time with their students and experience the College's many special traditions including the old campus lantern tours and a cappella showcase on Saturday night."
This year's Family Weekend was a popular attraction for the families of freshman students. Tours of Swem Library and the exhibits at the Muscarelle Museum were hits with freshman families looking to gain an in-depth perspective on their students’ new home.
Peter Manning and his wife Sharon travelled from Greenwood, S.C., to spend the weekend with their daughter, Betty Jeanne ('12).
"This is our first family weekend, so it sets the standard," said Peter.
Fresh from tailgating and watching the College's football team take on Villanova University (the Wildcats defeated the Tribe 38-28), the Mannings had another quick stop to make before heading back for more fun.
"We’re going to Target," Sharon said. "We’re using this as an opportunity do all those things off campus [that Betty Jeanne] doesn’t get to do."
The freshman class also served as a highlight of Reveley's presidential address and general session held on Saturday. He praised not only their diversity as a class and academic credentials, but also their character.
"[T]hey arrived with great attitudes – friendly, collegial, really nice kids," said Reveley. "This is a happy combination – students with great ability but without the self-absorption and arrogance that often accompany great ability."
In his speech, Reveley also noted that the College was in "robustly good health," and highlighted the latest "building boom," the campus' new green initiative and its newly renovated website. Two areas of special focus for the year, he promised, would be strategic planning and the College's financial health.
Whether it be a matter of distance, cost or time, not every student was able to see their family on Family Weekend. Yet, with a variety of book signings, the football game, and iRep Africa's Dance Showcase, students were still able to make the best of the weekend.
Senior Beth Mahalak was able to put it all into perspective as she looked out into the crowd gathered for "William and Mary Sings!," the annual a cappella concert.
"The slight homesickness of not having parents come and visit on this weekend is quickly made up for by meeting friends and classmates families and seeing all the activity on campus," she said. "Being a part of the William and Mary Sings concert is always exciting and, whether your parents are a part of the crowd or not, the huge number of students, parents, siblings, and friends that attend the show always make the weekend worthwhile!"