Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Celebrates Family Weekend

Just a few weeks after spending their first full nights on Augustana’s campus, students get an opportunity to show off how they’ve settled in. Augustana’s Family Weekend is a long-running annual event that pulls back the campus curtain and gives parents a look at the first steps in college life.
Kelly Noack is the Director of Alumni and Parent Relations at Augustana, and she says Family Weekend is a planning process that starts an entire year in advance. Going off of this year’s ticket sales and registration, the event sees more than 1200 family members back to see their students again.
The office takes into consideration what events are popular in the years prior, and also considers what’s new on campus that can be shown off. This year, the weekend included a guided campus tour to highlight new construction, including the recently added wing of the Hanson Hall of Science and the continuing construction and updates to Brodahl Building for Augustana’s Communication Sciences and Disorders program. 
The weekend kicked off with a family breakfast and kick-off from college president Steve Bahls, along with an introduction from Dr. Monica Smith, the campus’ vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion. 
“The breakfast is a great way to start off the weekend, and lets the parents know that they’re going to learn what’s new, what’s happening, and what opportunities their students are seeing on campus,” said Noack. Some of those opportunities include learning more about all the services offered at CORE, seeing the Fryxell Geology Museum, and exploring the documents at the Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center.
According to Noack, one of the most popular events this year was the planetarium show led by physics and astronomy professor Lee Carkner. The John Deere Planetarium was just updated last year, and Noack says that spaces in the two showings were all filled long before the weekend even began. 
From all the events, it’s clear that Family Weekend is a campus wide effort. Offices from all over the college get involved, including the president’s office, the Office of Student Life, the Office of Admissions, CORE, and the art museum. 
One centerpiece of the weekend is the athletics department, specifically Augustana’s football program. On Saturday, the parking lots outside Augustana’s Austin E. Knowlton Outdoor Athletics Complex was filled with license plates from all across the country. Many were Illinois, but Florida, Colorado, and Arizona plates showed that parents come from just about everywhere for Family Weekend. The team played hard, hoping to make those parents’ journeys worth it and took a decisive 55 to 13 victory over Elmhurst College. 
Following the game, families got to see a performance by comedian and magician Derek Hughes, an America’s Got Talent finalist and a performer seen on Comedy Central, MTV, and VH1. Noack points out, though, that fun events aren’t the only important aspect of Family Weekend.
“It’s been a few weeks since they [the parents] dropped their students off,” said Noack. “It’s a good opportunity for them to say ‘my student’s okay, they’re doing well, they know their way around.’” Normally, Noack pointed out, Family Weekend would be a bit farther into the term, but she thinks it works just as well in week 3 of the new semester system as it worked in week 5 or 6 of trimesters. 
The weekend is primarily an event that sees the families of first-year students attending, but in some ways, Family Weekend goes beyond even the events that campus offices plan. Richie Hoover is a junior at Augustana, and his parents have come for Family Weekend every year. “When they’re here we go to a cookout with my fraternity and then always tailgate before the football game,” said Hoover. “It’s one of my favorite weekends because they get to experience how my college life really is.”
Whether parents are here to make sure their student is settling in and adjusting to college life, or just here to tailgate and see a good game of football, Family Weekend has reasons for students all across campus to get together with their family and do something fun. 

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Augustana Celebrates Family Weekend