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Campus prepares for Junior Parents Weekend

Claire Heininger | Friday, February 20, 2004

When 2004 Junior Parents Weekend chairperson Meg Harty’s father was a junior at Notre Dame in 1961, JPW was nothing like the extravaganza it is today – in fact, he “barely remembers it,” Harty said.

That didn’t stop him, though, from telling his daughter about the 52-year-old tradition. Since her freshman year, Harty and her parents have been planning and thinking about their own JPW experience.

But the more they talked, the more Harty realized she wanted to go farther than simply prepare for her own chance at JPW – she wanted to enhance the weekend for all of her classmates, as well.

So she responded to an ad, earned the top position on the JPW committee and got her opportunity to influence tradition from the inside out.

“I wanted to take an active role to make this JPW 10 times better,” Harty said. “I saw the opportunity to have a hands-on effect to make it a wonderful experience.”

Harty said her hands-on efforts began a little late, as this year’s JPW committee switched advisors in October, and therefore had a “lot of catching up to do” compared to the committees that typically begin in April.

However, she said she felt confident that the creativity and dedication of her fellow members had added up to a weekend that would please students and parents alike.

The 2004 JPW theme is “And The Nominees Are,” a title that gives a nod to “the Oscars, movies, everything Hollywood,” Harty said.

“We wanted to show that everyone is a winner … we should all look at what we have at Notre Dame and appreciate it,” she said.

Beginning today, the more than 3,200 parents and juniors who purchased tickets to the weekend’s events will have the chance to share the academic, spiritual, social and residential aspects of the University. The weekend kicks off with the “Star-Studded Premiere” Gala in the Joyce Center at 7 p.m. tonight, a semi-formal celebration to welcome all guests and emphasize family, Harty said.

Saturday, each of the University’s four colleges – the College of Arts and Letters, the College of Science, the Mendoza College of Business and the College of Engineering – will each host workshops to expose parents to their sons’ and daughters’ academic experiences.

Residence life will also be highlighted on Saturday, when each dorm will host a luncheon.

The official JPW Mass and the “Walk of Fame” president’s dinner, both with University President Father Edward Malloy, will be held Saturday night in the Joyce Center. JPW 2004 will conclude with a “Roll the Credits” closing brunch, an activity Harty hopes will draw a fitting close to the weekend while still emphasizing that “it’s not the end yet.”

“JPW is not necessarily the midpoint, but it is a significant turning point,” she said, adding that for many juniors, the year ahead will be a hectic one of job searches and graduation plans.

“For now, it’s a chance to all get together with our families, to enjoy the weekend and to celebrate this wonderful University,” she said.