Despite the constant threat of rain, Family Weekend 2012 saw hundreds of parents, grandparents, siblings and other relatives of William & Mary students converging on campus beginning Sept. 28.
Family Weekend, an annual tradition, offers a myriad of events – from classes, sports, tours and cultural events to multiple concerts, canoeing Lake Matoaka and even a street fair – that help families get to know the College a bit better while spending time with their students.
The festivities began Friday with check-in for visiting families. The same day saw many professors open the doors of their classrooms to parents and family members of students, providing them an opportunity to see W&M’s academics on display.
A highlight of Saturday’s events was President Taylor Reveley’s address during the Presidential Welcome Session at Phi Beta Kappa Hall.
In his address, Reveley acknowledged the trials parents often face sending their children to college, citing his own experiences with four children. Reveley went on to thank parents for their role in making William & Mary what he called “the paradigm of a ‘public ivy’ university,” before concluding: “Families matter. Families matter a lot.”
When asked why Family Weekend was such a vital part of William & Mary’s year, Reveley replied, “Parents are important in all sorts of different ways, starting with their having entrusted their offspring to us to educate and to nurture, and it’s always great accordingly when parents come back and can experience the campus with their kids and get a real feel for it personally…It’s a big deal for us.”
Many families arriving on Saturday began their Family Weekend experiences with an indoor picnic lunch at the Commons and Marketplace dining halls, owing to the threat of rain. Despite the weather, however, families remained upbeat and enthusiastic about the opportunities provided by Family Weekend.
Upon leaving the picnic, Mark Ernstmann, father of Tyler Ernstmann ‘16, said that Family Weekend allowed him “to get some insight into what our son’s been doing for the last month and how his transition has been and what his experiences have been like so far.”
Among the multitude of events offered, the “International Expo” study abroad fair at the Campus Center’s Trinkle Hall attracted many families with students interested in becoming some of the 40 percent of W&M students who study abroad.
This year’s expo, put on by the Global Education Office, marked the annual event’s 10th year.
Graduate Global Education Office Assistant Kasey Hutson ’08, MA ’13 was responsible for organizing the event.
Hutson noted the importance of having the expo during Family Weekend, saying, “It opens up the avenue to discuss scholarship and financial aid options, and further, it gives parents and students a chance to speak with actual students and sometimes professors from schools abroad. It alleviates a lot of fear, I think.”
Most importantly, Hutson said, “It gets families started on the study abroad process early.”
As the expo entered its final hour, the William & Mary SINGS! a cappella concert featuring the College’s talented student ensembles began across campus at the rain location of William & Mary Hall.
The change in venue did little to deter eager families who packed the Kaplan Arena stands. There was standing room only at several of the entrances.
Following the concert, AMP hosted a street fair that, due to the rain, took place in the streets of Sadler Center lobby. Again, the foul weather failed to deter attendees, as families – particularly those with small children – filled Sadler’s lobby to partake in the amusements provided by AMP.
Among the activities were balloon animals, cornhole, face painting and a cakewalk.
Elsewhere in the Sadler Center lobby, students and families ordered class rings while a line for the Korean American Student Association’s annual Chuseok Festival show in Commonwealth Auditorium snaked around the room.
As the sun set on campus, the Walter J. Zable Stadium began to fill with Tribe football fans for the evening’s game against Georgia State. Families were treated to the Tribe’s first football win of the season, defeating the Panthers 35-3.
Although families said good-bye to their students on Sunday, many events were still scheduled throughout the day, including the Family Weekend 5K “Marrow-athon,” a Catholic Campus Ministries reception, a Baptist Collegiate Ministries breakfast, a club soccer game and more.