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Class of 2017 welcomes parents for weekend

| Monday, February 22, 2016

Continuing a treasured Notre Dame tradition, the class of 2017 welcomed their parents to campus for the University’s annual Junior Parents Weekend (JPW).

The event takes nearly a year of planning so Madi Purrenhage and Tommy Yemc — current sophomores and co-chairs of next year’s JPW — started in their roles this past weekend.

“For the past month, we’ve been mostly shadowing, learning how to plan and all that,” Purrenhage said. “Abby [Radomsky], who is the chair for this year, along with her team of commissioners, has been planning this for about a year, but we want them to be able to enjoy the weekend so we do a lot of the leg work on the actual weekend itself,” 

For Purrenhage and Yemc, this “leg work” involves a lot of small tasks they had not necessarily even considered prior to working this weekend.

“Basically, there are a lot of little things that go into this all, and I think we’ll learn more about those as we’re going into next year and planning, but right now it’s a lot of just little things,” Purrenhage said.

Their jobs started on Tuesday with stuffing the 1,300 envelopes for the members of the junior class.

“That’s a painful job,” Yemc said. “It wasn’t just us, we worked a lot with the junior commissioners as well, but basically it worked out to be about 24 hours of work, which is a lot. Spread that out over a number of people, obviously that changes, but it’s a fair amount of work.” 

The weekend formally opened with the Opening Gala at the Joyce Center (JACC) on Friday night.

“As far as we could tell, the Gala went really well, Madi walked around a bit more than I did, but it seemed like everyone was having a good time and enjoying themselves,” Yemc said. 

The transformation of the JACC was spectacular, Purrenhage said.

“The facilities for the gala are huge, and they really do a great job at making everything just look so incredible. Purrenhage said. “[There are a lot] of cash bars everywhere, so people are walking around with their wine glasses, and it’s very classy.”

The event included a dance floor and general room for mingling, according to Purrenhage.

“There’s a giant dance floor in the middle of the room, and that’s really cool because you have parents and kids, and it’s a giant mass of people just talking and dancing,” Purrenhage said. “And everyone looks so beautiful, they’re all dressed up because it’s a formal event. … It’s a really incredible event. Everyone I ran into was really enjoying themselves…”

According to Yemc, the Saturday night President’s Dinner was the main event of the weekend. He said the dinner had the largest turnout and featured Fr. John Jenkins, as well as Erin Hoffmann Harding, 

The weekend concluded with a brunch that starts at 9 a.m., also hosted in the JACC. “It’s a great way to close out the weekend,” Yemc said.

For Yemc and Purrenhage, the end of the weekend only marks the beginning of their planning for next year’s JPW.

“The size of the project is just way bigger than I ever thought it would be. I didn’t think they would give this much responsibility to students. I think it’s crazy how much they’ve done and how much we have to do for next year,” Yemc said.

Purrenhage said she’s excited about it, but there are a lot of ways to improve on this year.

“I would also say that it’s crazy thinking about all the little things that go into it — things you wouldn’t think about necessarily or think about at all,” Purrenhage said.

For now, both Purrenhage and Yemc are exhausted from the weekend, but enthusiastic about next year.

“I’ve been taking down notes all weekend of things we can do better, things we’re doing well,” Yemc said. “It’s a lot. We’re a little tired, but it’s worthwhile.”

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About Rachel O'Grady

Rachel O'Grady is a senior Political Science major living in Ryan Hall and is currently serving as an Assistant Managing Editor. Hailing from Chicago (actual Chicago, not the suburbs) she's been a Cubs fan since birth.

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