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The Carletonian

Family Weekend full of memories

<st weekend Carleton hosted approximately 700 visitors from all over the country for its annual Family Weekend, a three-day event that invites parents, siblings and family members of current Carleton students to experience a few days on Carleton’s campus.

“It’s not just parents. We get grandparents, siblings, even some uncles and aunts,” said Kerry Raadt, director of events for College Relations. “That’s why we call it Family Weekend.”

This year the event featured a multitude of different activities for parents, including tours, athletic competitions, art exhibitions, presentations and musical performances.

Planning for Family Weekend usually starts in January, when Carleton parents receive postcards with dates and other basic information. 

“We begin laying out a template of schedules, and fill it in as we get closer,” Raadt said. “One of the things parents like to do is go to classes, so of course that’s [scheduled for] Friday.”

Other events, such as programs and tours, are scheduled on a more flexible basis, depending on which students and faculty members are available. These programs included events like “Preparing for Life After Carleton,” an open house in the career center, “Eating Alaska,” a film and discussion in the Weitz Center Cinema and “Ecological Restoration in the Carleton Arboretum,” a walking tour led by biology professor Mark McKone.

Another notable event was last week’s heavily-attended convocation, which featured James Schamus, a Carleton parent who is also an award-winning screenwriter and producer. Schamus, a member of the Carleton Parents’ Advisory Council, had already been planning to come to campus before he was asked to give Convocation. According to Raadt, the Cinema and Media Studies department had invited Schamus to campus as a “professional resource” for CAMS students and faculty.

“We just kind of jumped on that idea,” he said of adding Schamus to the convocation schedule.
Parents were also invited to attend classes with students, an invitation that was popular with students, parents and professors.

Se“[It’s] a great opportunity for parents to experience the classroom without feeling like they are intruding or out of place,” said Julia Strand, a visiting assistant professor of psychology. “It seems like the best way for parents to get a taste of students’ daily life.”

She noted that in both her thirty-person introductory course and her eight-person seminar, she got some “very good questions” from parents after class.

“I attended two of my daughter’s classes, and I absolutely loved them,” said Mary Jo Strnad, whose daughter, Helen, is a member of the class of ‘14. “In both cases, you could just tell that the professor was really enthused about the subject matter. The information conveyed was substantial, and it was really quite impressive, especially the level [at which] they were analyzing the data.”

Strnad’s favorite part of classes, however, was the students themselves, who were “really engaged and actively participating and answering questions.” 

Many students enjoyed Family Weekend as well.

“My mom attended the a cappella concert, and I think she really enjoyed it,” said Zach Lynn ’14. “It was great to see her again, and I liked introducing her to all of my friends.”

 “It was nice seeing my parents again,” said Eric Wittenburg ’15, adding that they enjoyed their tours of the Weitz Center and campus.

Courtney Jones ’15 agreed.

“What I think was really awesome about Family Weekend was being able to show my parents the place where I’ve chosen to begin my adult life,” she said. Plus, “I got to be away from the dining hall food for an entire weekend.”

Overall, many parents simply enjoy learning more about their children’s lives in college.

“My favorite part of the whole weekend was seeing my daughter’s life,” said Strnad. “Meeting her friends, seeing the campus — it’s just wonderful to have those images that I didn’t have before.”

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