Parents weekend 2013

As a long-standing tradition at Norwich University, Family Weekend in October serves as a time for students of every year to reunite with their families. For freshman students in particular, this weekend is the first time they have a chance to see their loved ones since August when they arrive on campus.

Like many rooks in the corps, Amanda Harris, 18, a freshman criminal justice major from Lakewood, Colo., Family Weekend is a time to relax and have a meal outside of the cafeteria. It’s also a time to catch up with family members, “We get ten minute phone calls once a week, but you can’t really say much,” Harris said.

For Harris, Family Weekend will allow her to have a conversation with her parents extending beyond schoolwork and rookdom. “It’s one thing to be in college and be able to call them and Skype them, but I haven’t had a true conversation with them since they dropped me off, which was Aug. 16,” she said.

While current students look forward to this weekend, so do alumni such as John Perreault, a 1986 graduate from Norwich, who distinctly remembers Family Weekend as a freshman in the Corps of Cadets.

“As a rook in the Corps of Cadets in 1982 you really did not have much opportunity unless you were with your parents,” he said. He added that, “It was nice to see civilization again with your parents, (maybe) enjoy a nice meal, hear music, and see a movie.”

It is not just rooks being reunited with family members again. Civilian students welcome the weekend as well, such as Jennifer Passalacqua, 20, a junior communications major from Geneva, N.Y., who hasn’t seen her family since she left for school.

Passalacqua’s mother is making the seven-hour drive to Northfield for the weekend. This will be one of three times she will see her family during the school year, besides Thanksgiving and winter break.

Many students anticipate the weekend as they will be reunited with family members, but rooks, like Harris, also look forward to new privileges gained. These privileges will include: the option to have a single picture on their desk or wall, no longer being required to wear white name tags on robes or PT gear, the ability to talk in restrooms, and no longer having to square in hallways.

For upper-class cadets, the Family Weekend has meaning as well. Tyler Grieve, 21, a senior majoring in history from Dalton, N.H., said he has made it a tradition for family to come visit since freshman year. “It’s always something to look forward to, seeing family members and catch up on everything that’s is going on.”

Although Grieve has since gotten a car to go home and visit his family, the weekend still provides a chance for his parents to enjoy the campus lifestyle and join him for a meal in the cafeteria.

Though Grieve prefers to take his family for a tour around the campus, other students also see it as an opportunity to take their parents with them to class. Matthew Chidester, 18, a freshman majoring in history from Dover, N.H., looked forward to taking his mom to a Friday class. “I want to see how well she does in Spanish,” he said.

Besides Chidester allowing his mom to sit in class with him, he also plans to take his parents around campus and to the Sullivan Museum.

While Grieve plans on dining with his parents in the cafeteria, other students anticipate having a meal elsewhere off campus.

William Hevey, 20, a junior majoring in criminal justice from Biddeford, Maine, has parents who have participated in Family Weekend every year since his older brother attended the university in 2009. Even after four years, Hevey still looks forward to going out to eat with his family and having some “real” food, and also plans to relax in the hotel with his family and go swimming in the pool.

Similarly, Passalacqua who misses her mom’s home- cooked Italian meals, also looks forward to eating somewhere besides the cafeteria, but, like Hevey, had other plans with her family besides dining out. “We usually go to the cider mill, or Ben & Jerry’s, and we will probably go apple picking,” she said.

When it comes to Family Weekend, a common theme is student plans revolving around going out to eat. Like Hevey and Passalacqua, Joseph Forte, 22, a senior majoring in civil engineering from Westford, Mass., misses his family’s home cooked meals, and also looks forward to, “not eating on campus,” he said.

Though many students await Family Weekend to go out to dine somewhere, the weekend claims has importance to students and parents as a way to reconnect.

Richard Colburn, a 20 year old junior from Springfield, MA. majoring in civil engineering, doesn’t have many plans lined up for when his family visits, but still finds the weekend important to him and his family, “It’s basically a way to see each other, and have an excuse for them to come see me.”

Along with his parents, Colburn’s grandparents also plan to make the day trip, but Colburn looks forward to seeing his beloved dog most of all.

For Passalacqua, Family Weekend is an excuse to visit other family members who live in the area. “My uncle lives down the street, and my mom loves seeing him too and a few of my cousins,” she said.

Unlike Passalacqua who is a civilian, as a cadet, Harris finds the weekend important as a chance to show her parents her lifestyle as a rook at school, “They are excited to hear more about what I am doing here. My mom definitely wants to know what I get to do,” she said.

Family Weekend has taken place since the 1950s and continues to be an important tradition at Norwich for students in the Corps and civilians.

“It’s a good little tease before going home for Thanksgiving break,” Passalacqua said. She adds, “It’s perfect timing to see them,” she said.

Perreault looks at Family Weekend as an especially important event for the rooks, “As long as there will be rooks, the tradition will continue. It makes sense and gives the Corps the opportunity for a break from the stress of school and the cadet lifestyle,” he said.

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