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Junior parents pour onto campus for weekend event

Jaclynne Madden | Friday, February 17, 2006

The parents of Notre Dame juniors have migrated annually to South Bend for Junior Parents Weekend since 1952, when University President Emeritus Father Theodore Hesburgh wanted juniors’ parents to have the opportunity to take part in their child’s Notre Dame life prior to graduation.

More than 1,200 families are scheduled to arrive in the South Bend area today to celebrate the 54th annual Junior Parents Weekend (JPW). This year’s JPW theme, “Traditional Notre Dame,” embraces the true nature of the three-day gathering – for parents to experience the spiritual, social and academic aspects of Notre Dame.

JPW 2006 chairperson Marri Kajfez, a junior herself, expressed enthusiasm for the weekend and all its family-oriented events.

“We hope that the juniors and their parents enjoy the traditional Notre Dame that we have sewn through our events,” she said. “I’m really excited to see all the parents that are going to be here experiencing Notre Dame in such a unique way.”

JPW kicks off at 9 p.m. today with the Opening Gala, a formal event at the Joyce Center to include dancing, a cash bar, hors d’oeuvres and portrait photography. On Saturday morning, the College of Science, College of Engineering, College of Arts and Letters and Mendoza College of Business will hold Collegiate Workshops for their students in which juniors and parents will hear faculty addresses and attend departmental presentations. Juniors and parents then will head to each student’s residence hall for hall luncheons, where parents can mingle with rectors and roommates.

University President Father John Jenkins will celebrate the JPW Mass at 5:30 in the Joyce Center Arena. Immediately following the Mass, the President’s Dinner will be held in the Joyce Center Fieldhouse. Junior class president and student body vice-president elect Bill Andrichik will give the junior class address, and Jenkins will deliver the President’s address.

The weekend concludes Sunday with the Closing Brunch, also in the Joyce Center Fieldhouse. The brunch will feature a speech by Father Mark Poorman, the vice president for student affairs.

Local hotels and travel services have prepared for the annual influx of junior parents.

Anthony Travel began organizing trips for JPW parents as early as last March. Pat Walsh, vice president for business service at Anthony Travel, said the agency “has helped a few hundred parents book trips this year – we book air flights for many parents, but the biggest part comes from booking hotel rooms.”

The Inn at St. Mary’s, Walsh said, is the most popular hotel for those parents booking through Anthony Travel. Aware of their high popularity and demand, The Inn at Saint Mary’s has raised its rates for JPW.

Other hotels in the area, however, do not raise prices for this weekend. The South Bend Marriott, Holiday Inn and The Morris Inn keep their prices at normal weekend rates.

“We do not need to raise our rates because there is not a huge demand of rooms for us,” said Dawn Boulac, Holiday Inn general manager. “JPW is not a like a football weekend where thousands and thousands of people pile into South Bend. We are not even booked for this weekend, and half of the residents that will be here are not even here for JPW.”

Only two out of the six South Bend hotels interviewed are booked this weekend – the conveniently located Inn at St. Mary’s and Morris Inn.

The Morris Inn, located on campus, has a unique way of booking hotel rooms for JPW parents. In the fall of each semester, most of the rooms in The Morris Inn go to a junior class lottery. Those parents who enter the lottery are then chosen at random to stay in one of the designated hotel rooms for JPW.

A committee of 13 juniors began coordinating JPW in April 2005.

Kajfez is confident this weekend will be a fun yet meaningful time for the Class of 2007 and the families.

“I’m really excited for JPW this year,” she said. “It’s hard to believe that 10 months of planning is finally here.”

The JPW committee also includes one advisor, Brian Fremeau, the coordinator of student welfare and development at the Students Activities Office, and two sophomore committee chairs. The sophomore committee chairs, chosen a month before JPW, are in charge of organizing sophomore volunteers to manage the behind-the-scenes work so the juniors on the committee can actively enjoy their JPW.

All undergraduate residence halls will have parietals at midnight Friday and Saturday of JPW.