Spring Family Weekend; fun in the sun at Williams

With some of the most beautiful weather of the year, Williams once again played host to legions of parents for this year’s Spring Family Days. Over 610 parents, guests and siblings attended, a slight increase from last year’s 590.

As usual, a number of events greeted parents during the weekend. On Friday, parents were given the opportunity to visit one of their children’s classes, as well as tours of campus. In addition, Friday provided parents the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the rare books collection and the new science building. Later in the day, parents got the chance to meet other parents at a tea reception at the Faculty House.

This year, the Spring Family Weekend occurred two weeks later than it did last year. News Office Director Jo Procter notes that this particular weekend was chosen in part because it didn’t conflict with any religious holidays or Trustee meetings (so that President Harry Payne could attend some of the functions), as well as falling not too close to a break when students have just seen their parents. Finally, Procter mentions, the many home games against rival Amherst this weekend would give parents the chance “ to be part of the traditional rivalry between the two schools.”

Saturday, May 1 marked the bulk of the weekend’s activities, with assemblies in the morning on “Laying the Groundwork for a Successful Career,” presented by Office of Career Counseling (OCC) director Fatma Kassamali and “Growing Up at Williams” by Dean Wanda Lee. Later, Heather Williams, associate professor of biology, gave a talk on “Learning to Communicate Without a Model to Imitate,” a Williams Family Distinguished Faculty Lecture.

President Payne also played a prominent role on Saturday, giving a talk on the importance of a liberal arts education in Goodrich Hall as well as meeting with parents later at the Log. Interspersed throughout the day were Kusika concerts, the theatre productions of “Old Times” and “An Evening of Christopher Durang,” as well as various athletic events against Amherst.

A few events were also planned for Sunday, including an early bird walk and Spring Family Days at the Clark Institute.

Despite the numerous events planned for the weekend, many parents found themselves spending more time with their sons and daughters rather than going to some of the scheduled events. Sharon and Harry Seelig, both college teachers in Amherst and parents of Catherine Seelig ’01, spent most of their time visiting their daughter. Being familiar with the college through previous parents’ weekends and their own experiences as undergraduates at small liberal arts colleges, they didn’t feel much of a need to familiarize themselves with Williams.

The same was true for Ravi and Margi Ravindranath, parents of Sonya Ravindranath ’01. Having also attended previous family weekends, they found themselves doing what “she (their daughter) wanted us to do.” In their words, that included usual parental visit activities such as going to the mall, grocery store and out to dinner.

Perhaps also contributing to the decrease in participants at the parents’ tea get-together as well as the President’s reception at the Log was the beautiful spring weather this weekend. Golf, as well as nature walks put on by the Outing Club, were very popular this weekend as parents got to explore some of the beautiful areas inside and outside of Williams.

All in all, Procter was pleased with the weekend, saying, “Maybe it’s the reverse of a chip off the old block. Williams students are smart, interesting, friendly people and, we always discover that so are their parents.”

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