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Class of 2024 hosts Junior Parents Weekend

| Friday, February 17, 2023

The Class of 2024 welcomes parents and guardians to campus Friday through Sunday in celebration of the University’s annual Junior Parents Weekend (JPW). During three days of events, family members have the opportunity to get a taste of the lives of their Notre Dame students.

Focal points this weekend include academic workshops and residence hall open houses, which will take place Saturday morning and afternoon. Over 3,000 people are slated to attend the President’s Dinner in the Joyce Center Saturday evening. Fr. Edward “Monk” Malloy, former University president, will deliver the homily at a special Class of 2024 mass to close out the weekend Sunday.

Along with a host of fellow juniors on the 2023 JPW Committee, celebration co-chairs Juliana Dantas and Cesar Sanchez have been hard at work coordinating the weekend’s signature events since the fall semester. Sanchez said that JPW deserves a high ranking on the list of best Notre Dame traditions.

“It’s a Notre Dame tradition, to the point that many alumni talk about their memories from their time doing it,” Sanchez said. “[Alumni] look back on it as a highlight of their junior year and their time here.”

Sanchez added that the celebration provides a rare chance for Notre Dame students to meet their friends’ parents.

“In high school, you’re always used to seeing your friends’ parents, and you get to know them pretty well,” Sanchez said. “You never really meet [your college friends’] parents, outside of occasional tailgates.”

Fortunately for families making lengthy domestic and international commutes to South Bend, Dantas said that the Office of Student Enrichment and Notre Dame’s partner travel agency offer travel and accommodation support. Dantas added that she’s eager to welcome her mother, who has only been able to visit the University one other time, to campus this weekend.

“I’m super excited because I’m from Brazil, and my mom is flying all the way just to spend the weekend,” Dantas said. “I’m really excited to spend the weekend with her here, especially after midterms. I feel like it’s a nice little break from the craziness of studying.” 

Saturday’s President’s Dinner — the celebration’s largest centralized gathering — will feature speeches from student leaders of the junior class and University president Fr. John Jenkins. Dinner chair Caroline Daniher said she’s looking forward to the formal meal of 379 tables on the University’s tab.

“It’s nice to have a dinner hosted by Notre Dame. The dinner is going to be really good,” Daniher said. “There’s a really good salted caramel brownie tart.”

One of two JPW event co-chairs, Sarah Ochocki, has helped organize Saturday evening’s Dueling Pianos show, Sunday morning’s continental breakfast and campus tours throughout the weekend. She echoed Sanchez’s attitude regarding the meaning of the celebration to the Class of 2024.

“We’re hoping to give a small slice of life of what normal campus looks like, because some people that we are welcoming will have never seen campus and some will have only seen it covered in masks,” Ochocki said. “It’s been an odd class in terms of even just bonding. I’m hopeful that people can see that we made it through — we made those relationships still.”

Julia Cacciotti, the other event co-chair, spoke on how the weekend could be improved. This year, the JPW committee had the idea to offer Notre Dame Stadium tours, but could not because the stadium is not “winterized.” Cacciotti added that although she likes the concept, hosting a more general family weekend for siblings would be complicated logistically.

“It’s hard enough with 3,000 people coming,” Cacciotti said. “To add siblings in that mix would be a huge undertaking… It’d be cool to get siblings in the dorms and give them a taste of college life.”

Junior class president Paul Stoller, who will be speaking at Saturday’s dinner, said the celebration is “huge” for the Class of 2024, which transitioned into college at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s really night and day that we have 3,500 people coming together for that dinner compared to what we had to go through freshman year,” Stoller said. “But that experience really made our class a lot closer. And I think across the board, we have a very strong bond.”

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About Peter Breen

Peter Breen is an associate news editor for The Observer. He can be reached at [email protected]. Breen grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and is a senior majoring in the Program of Liberal Studies.

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