Students and Parents Reunite for Good Times at Family Weekend

Group shot of 7 student and family members painting pumpkins
October 10, 2018

Carnival rides, music, great food, and games created a festive setting as St. John’s students greeted their families for a weekend of fun activities on the Queens, NY, campus during the University’s annual Family Weekend, held October 5-7.

“Family Weekend is a wonderful opportunity for students to share their campus experience with their families,” said Kathryn T. Hutchinson, Ph.D., Vice President for the Division of Student Affairs, who chatted with students and visitors at a brunch she hosted Saturday in Montgoris Dining Hall. “It is important for students to stay connected to their support systems, and Family Weekend provides a wonderful opportunity for students to connect and relax with loved ones.”

“This popular event marks the culmination of our Red Carpet Welcome and students’ successful transition to college life,” said Eric M. Finkelstein, Senior Director of Residence Life and Orientation. “Whether it is enjoying one of our featured faculty lectures, the rides at the family carnival, or decorating in the pumpkin patch, families make new memories together as a part of the extended St. John’s community.”

More than 400 families arrived from 27 states as far away as California and Oregon.

Joe and Corinne Walsh are no strangers to St. John’s, they freely admitted, as they tucked into the brunch before reuniting with their daughter, Ashley, a freshman. “Her mother has been having some separation anxiety, so we have made a few trips here to say hi,” said Mr. Walsh, whose family calls nearby Bayport, NY, home.

Amanda Schleider, a freshman and Pharmacy major in the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, shared some of the plans she had in store for her dad, Allan Schleider, of Bayside, NY. “He has not seen my dorm room yet—and I made sure to clean it,” she said, as her father nodded approvingly. “We will definitely go to the Family Weekend Carnival on the Great Lawn. It is very scenic there.”

Freshman Alana Kerr, a Criminal Justice major, was anticipating the arrival of her parents, Alex and Lorna Kerr, who were on their way from Bethesda, MD. “I cannot wait to walk around campus with them, go out to eat, and explore Manhattan. My parents love New York.”

The annual event kicked off Friday evening with student performances during the Java Johnnies Coffee House that was held in the D’Angelo Center living room. Family Weekend participants were later invited to The Little Theatre, as the Chappell Players Theater Group performed the musical comedy, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

On Saturday, distinguished faculty members staged a series of lectures for guests in the D’Angelo Center that focused on New York as the international center for the arts; the history of the movement for integrating baseball in New York; and ways to ensure student success. Students interested in study abroad opportunities took part in a Global Studies information session.

Families also had fun that afternoon at the Family Weekend Carnival, a staple of the annual celebration. Guests were able to enjoy treats from New York-style food trucks, as well as face painting, carnival games, a raffle, giveaways, and a pumpkin patch.

Breathing, exercise, and relaxation techniques were offered during a yoga session that was hosted on the lawn next to Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall, while other guests participated in volleyball games.

This marked the second year for Patrick and Debbie Stephens to make the journey from Atlanta, GA, with their younger son, Chase, to spend Family Weekend with son Christopher, a senior majoring in Sociology in St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The Stephens family travels to St. John’s at least once per year.

“He is so active here, so we come up and support him every chance we get,” said Ms. Stephens, who proudly noted Christopher is a member of the President’s Society, the University’s highest honor society. He is also Vice President of Student Government, Inc. “St. John’s has been a great place for him.”

During the late afternoon, guests attended a block party in the Residence Village, with food and music provided by the Office of Residence Life. The weekend concluded Sunday with a community Mass in St. Thomas More Church and games involving the women’s softball and soccer teams, held, respectively, at Red Storm Field and in Belson Stadium.