Rick Becker | March 2, 2017
The first moment I realized Junior Parents Weekend was a big deal came Saturday morning. As folks were gathering for the College of Engineering Open House, my son Benedict introduced me to his buddies and their parents. There were a lot of handshakes and smiles. “Sorry, what’s your first name again?” I asked repeatedly. The din in McKenna Hall made it difficult to catch details on the first go around.
Yet the noise wasn’t a problem. In fact, it matched the buoyant mood; it complemented the palpable joy. Everybody was sipping coffee and tea, but the caffeine was superfluous: A natural buzz spread through the crowd as sons and daughters connected moms and dads with their Notre Dame world. “I remember hearing about Junior Parents Weekend during freshman orientation,” said one mom, “and I immediately marked it on my calendar.”
That wasn’t the case for us. I don’t think JPW even crossed our radar until we received an email from Ben in late October. “Did you guys get this?” he wrote, forwarding the information about procuring JPW tickets. “I don’t think there’s an immediate rush.” He was in Dublin for the fall semester, and our communications with him were typically erratic and brief, so the fact he mentioned it at all gave us a clue: This was important.
“We got a letter in the mail,” I wrote back, “and we want to do as much of it as you’re willing.”
I guess we assumed the JPW events were more or less optional — something extra for parents who live far away. Since we live in South Bend, we’re familiar with campus and get to see our Domer children intermittently. Plus, since we’re close by, we try to avoid any appearance of hovering.
We were obviously mistaken about Junior Parents Weekend. It really is a big deal.