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Junior Parents Weekend chairs reflect on event planning

| Friday, February 14, 2020

This weekend, hundreds of parents will stream onto campus — not to see a football game, but to immerse themselves in the community and to discover the reality of their children’s daily lives at Notre Dame.

Ever since its beginnings in 1953, Junior Parents Weekend (JPW) has been an opportunity for juniors to show their parents the lives they have built for themselves, the friendships they have forged and all of their achievements, junior Sara Rani Reddy, JPW co-chair, said in an email.

Observer File Photo

Students and parents enjoy brunch on the Sunday morning of last year’s Junior Parents Weekend (JPW). JPW offers parents an insight into their children’s lives at Notre Dame over a weekend in February. The 2020 iteration will take place this weekend.

Events begin Friday night and continue almost nonstop until Sunday morning. Although no event is required, they all bring something unique to the weekend. Notably, there is an Opening Gala on Friday night, academic open houses, Mass and a President’s Dinner on Saturday and a Sunday Brunch. Each event is planned by one of the JPW chair members.

“Going through the whole process is challenging, but very rewarding,” junior Devon Ngo, College of Engineering chair, said. “Seeing it all come together is humbling in a way, because you begin to see how much work it takes to run an event smoothly that, as an attendee, you don’t really get to see.”

While the weekend does not change much year-to-year, Ngo tried to bring something new to the College of Engineering Open House.

“One of the things that I’m doing this year is making it feel a little more personal,” he said. “I’m having a slideshow with engineering pictures. The one thing that our junior chemical engineering class has kind of developed over the past two and a half years is this really close connection with one another. It’s so rewarding to see and be able to display that to the parents.”

Junior Shantae Harris, Gala Chair, said she was also excited to be a part of the process, especially because she was responsible for picking out every detail of the gala.

“I get to be a part of the process, but also all the fun things that are associated with it, like planning the events, picking the menus, figuring out who’s going to be the homilist,” Harris said. “I feel like the gala was the best for me. I love finger foods, and I love cooking, so I had all these ideas for it.”

While most of the events involve mingling, like the academic open houses and the gala, the President’s Dinner is unique in that it facilitates conversation, junior and dinner chair Beverley Watson said. The dinner is also the only time that University President Fr. John Jenkins directly addresses students and their parents.

“Dinner is the time to sit down and really get to know people. You have this sit-down environment where you can have a nice conversation with people, and the Glee Club will perform right beforehand,” she said. “I feel like a meal is always a great way to experience the people you’re surrounding yourself with, and I’m so excited to help make that happen.”

Although there are many details involved in JPW, they all come together to give parents the big picture of what their child’s Notre Dame experience has been like so far. But, Reddy said, JPW is not just a time for parents; the students should also take the opportunity to look back on all that they have accomplished in their two and a half years at the University.

“I hope students enjoy looking back on their growth since freshman year, cherishing all of the relationships they’ve cultivated, and celebrating with their parents all of the work they’ve done,” she said. “I also hope they get the unique chance to introduce their family to the larger Notre Dame family they’ve created for themselves since freshman year.”

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