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Families reunite with students on Grounds for Family Weekend

The University offered families a series of activities to enjoy with their students as they learned more about life on Grounds

The events allowed students to connect with their families all around Grounds.
The events allowed students to connect with their families all around Grounds.

From tailgates and improv to Dome dinners and choral showcases, families of University students were welcomed to Grounds with a wide range of exciting opportunities for Family Weekend. The offered activities, scheduled from Nov. 3 to Nov. 5, allowed parents and family members to gain a deeper understanding of what life looks like for their students on Grounds.

Shanti Cooper, mother of first-year College student Lucinda Cooper, said Family Weekend was a great opportunity to see her daughter thrive in a college environment. 

“We get to look at this beautiful campus, we're happy that the weather cooperated, it's exciting,” Cooper said. “She has a great group of friends and seems like she's liking her classes. It's very reassuring that she's found her people and she's found her place.” 

Orientation and New Student Programs, a University office that works to develop connections within the University community, hosted some of the weekend’s most popular events including cooking classes at the Teaching Kitchen and the Family Weekend Tailgate — co-hosted with the Athletics Department — held on Observatory Hill Field. The tailgate preceded a home football game against Georgia Tech where parents and students filled the seats.

In addition to events oriented towards offering glimpses of social life on Grounds, academic programs were offered to give families a look into students’ academic lives. Events included the School of Engineering’s Engineering Expo and the College of Arts and Sciences’ Faculty Reception. 

Rosemary Levinson, mother of first-year College student Aiden Levinson, took part in the Family Weekend events, including a conversation hosted by the Jefferson Society and the football game against Georgia Tech. Despite the programming, Levinson said her favorite part of Family Weekend was seeing her son. 

“It's definitely nice to see him in his environment and adjusting and kind of relaxed, versus at drop off when things were chaotic and rushed,” Levinson said. “So it's been nice to know that he can actually find his way around.”

Families also gained the opportunity to learn more about the University’s Grounds. Cooper was one of the 200 guests selected in a lottery to attend a Dome Room Dinner. Tickets for the dinner cost $100 per person and provided families an opportunity to dine inside the Rotunda. 

During the event, guests heard from a student member of the University Guide Service who talked about the history of the Rotunda and a history professor who talked about the University campus during the Civil War. According to Shanti, hearing from the speakers was a particularly interesting part of the evening. 

“I'm a high school history teacher so I was thrilled that it was a professor of history, who gave the keynote,” Shanti said. “That was really cool.”

Aside from understanding more about the University as an institution, many parents also received a positive impression of the student community. 

Matt Shadel, Charlottesville resident, class of 1994 alumnus and father of first-year College student Jack Shadel said he had an amazing time seeing his son have a similar experience to his own. His wife, Molly Shadel, a professor at the School of Law, said she was thrilled to see her son enjoying the college’s community of students. 

“Oh, it's been fantastic,” Shadel said. “It's so much fun to get to meet his friends. U.Va. just seems like such a great match, there are so many interesting things to do and people to meet.” 

First years weren’t the only ones whose families engaged in Family Weekend programming. Family members of third-year students were invited to the Third Year Ceremony, held at the Paramount Theater, where students gathered to celebrate the completion of half their time at the University with a series of speakers and a short reception after. 

The final day of Family Weekend had an abbreviated schedule with events starting at 9 a.m. and ending with the Third Year Ceremony reception at 12 p.m.