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Junior Parents Weekend to offer virtual activities for families

| Friday, March 5, 2021

Junior Parents Weekend (JPW) was created to give parents an opportunity to better understand what makes Notre Dame unique, while giving students a chance to show their gratitude for the people who have helped them the most.

However, due to pandemic-related protocols, the Junior Parents Weekend Committee has adopted an entirely virtual format for the first time ever.

The weekend typically features a wide range of in-person activities, including a mass, an open house for each of the colleges and other social events that allow students to share a glimpse of their college experience with their parents.

Despite the cancellation of in-person gatherings, junior and event chair Mabry Webb said, the JPW Committee has worked with NDTV to plan a number of online events for both students and parents to participate in together.

“We have an online mass streamed from the Basilica, and each college is doing a virtual open house,” Webb said.

In addition to making yearly event virtual, the committee has added some new activities to the schedule, including a virtual cooking class.

The committee will also be working with the Hammes Bookstore to put on a trivia contest, with the top three scoring families taking home gift certificates.

Junior Jonathan Couri, JPW co-chair, explained how residence halls will be participating in the weekend.

“This year, dorms were given the option to feature their hall newsletter, host a Zoom meet and greet or record a video biography,” Couri said.

Representing the College of Arts of Letters on the JPW Committee, junior Keely Carney said the individual colleges have some unique virtual events planned for their students.

“The College of Arts and Letters is having an academic showcase, which is going to include a speech from the dean, then three faculty presentations consisting of short explanations of their classes and research,” Carney said. “We want to keep it pretty short and concise, as we all know virtual attention spans are not very long.”

Carney noted that it was disheartening to learn that JPW would have to be shifted online.

“It’s never been done this way before, and knowing that we aren’t going to have that traditional, in-person experience makes planning for it very frustrating,” Carney said.

In addition, Couri described the difficulty of ensuring family participation while planning the event.

“There have been many challenges associated with this year’s planning of JPW, but the biggest one was ensuring family and student engagement,” Couri said.

Though the lack of in-person events might be disappointing to many, Couri noted there are some positive aspects to holding JPW online.

“Having JPW in a virtual format will allow all families, even those on the other side of the globe, to connect and participate in this very special junior tradition,” Couri explained. “The same could not be said in past years.”

Carney said she is optimistic that despite the changes, the weekend can still prove to be a special moment between students and parents.

“I’m hopeful that there will be some meaning to it, and that the students can get something out of it, even if that something is simply a more meaningful FaceTime with their parents,” Carney said.

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