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Parents to visit juniors this weekend

SARA FELSENSTEIN | Friday, February 19, 2010

Junior Parents Weekend may be dubbed “that quiet weekend” by freshmen and sophomores, but for juniors and their parents it is a weekend packed with distinguished speakers, workshops, dinners, socializing with friends and family, and this year, a speech by Irish football coach Brian Kelly.

Junior Zach Reuvers, Chair of the JPW Committee, said about 1,200 juniors are expected to participate in the activities this weekend.

The initial planning for JPW 2010 began back in April, Reuvers said.

“When I got the position [last spring] we shot ideas around, but we didn’t assemble the Committee until the fall,” he said.

The JPW Committee is composed of twelve juniors, including Reuvers, vice chair Lindsay Schwartz, a graphic designer and nine other chairs in charge of a specific event like the President’s Dinner or the Gala.

Reuvers said the idea of Notre Dame as a place grounded in tradition has been pervasive in the planning of JPW. Iconic images like the Golden Dome and the Hesburgh Library were used in the designs of program covers and tickets. Large black and white paintings of Notre Dame past and present will be hanging at the events.

“I think a lot of students have gotten this sense of tradition [from being] at Notre Dame. What we want to do is invite their parents into that as well,” Reuvers said. “We’re trying to express to parents how special and unique Notre Dame is.”

The first event of the weekend is the annual Opening Gala, which will take place at the Purcell Pavilion in the newly renovated Joyce Center. The Gala will feature a cash bar, portrait photography, a DJ and dancing.

“It’s a big event,” Reuvers said. “You walk in and it’s kind of like a big cocktail party, with appetizer stations set up all around the JACC. Dress for the Gala is the dressiest attire out of all the events.”

On Saturday morning the Collegiate Workshops will take place. Each college hosts their own workshop to give parents a taste of their son or daughter’s academic life at Notre Dame. The dean of each respective college welcomes parents at the beginning of the workshop, and then the group breaks down into different sections depending on the students’ majors or concentrations. Parents will have the opportunity to actually sit in classrooms and meet professors.

Reuvers said these workshops are very popular among parents.

“Students aren’t too crazy about the workshops — mostly because they’re early in the morning — but it’s one of the things that parents really like,” Reuvers said. “They give … an intimate view of what their son or daughter is up to [in his or her] college.”

Reuvers said one of the most important events of the weekend is Saturday’s President’s Dinner.

“Fr. John Jenkins gives a speech at the dinner, and a lot of other University notables attending the dinner, [including] Fr. Bill Lies, Director of the Center for Social Concerns, and Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick,” he said.

Students and their parents have some down time on Saturday evening. Some will head out to off-campus favorites like Rocco’s Restaurant, Fiddler’s Hearth and Corby’s Irish Pub.

Others will stick close to campus at Legends of Notre Dame. Aaron Perri, General Manager of Legends of Notre Dame, said the restaurant and alehouse pub are expected to experience a surge in business during JPW.

“Most of this [business] comes on Saturday night as Friday night everyone is fairly busy with the Gala,” he said.

Perri also mentioned that Legends has a chocolate-lovers dessert on the menu called “Junior Parents Weakness.”

The weekend’s festivities will end on Sunday with the Closing Brunch at the Joyce Center. Reuvers said juniors are especially looking forward to Kelly’s speech at the brunch.

“I’m really excited to hear [Coach Kelly],” Reuvers said. “He had a trip planned for this weekend and he rearranged his schedule to come [to JPW] … We didn’t even find out until last Monday that he would be able to [attend].”

Junior Ryan Calkin is also looking forward to Kelly as a guest speaker.

“We’ve got a new coach finally and I haven’t actually heard him say anything, so it would be nice to get to know him a little as a person,” he said.

Reuvers said friends have expressed concern that after all the JPW Committee’s hard work, they will be too swamped with tasks this weekend to actually enjoy time with family and friends. Reuvers said as of today, however, the committee’s work is done.  The rest of the work will be passed on to a group of about forty sophomores who will help out at each event and make sure that everything runs smoothly.

“I’m really excited for the weekend as a whole — just seeing all of our efforts we’ve gone through for almost a year coming to fruition,” Reuvers said.