In many ways, Family Weekend this year was the same as last year. Just like last year, it fell on a Friday morning at that perfect time of fall in New England when the leaves have turned red, yellow, and orange. A similar herd of name-tagged parents descended on the Chapel. Parents meandered from class to class in imitation of their children’s Monday schedule. They even had an advisor meeting. Students spent the morning learning about Native American history with the presenter Larry Spotted Crow Mann (the same presenter as last year) and watching a documentary. The afternoon included sports practices, games on the Quad, and musical open rehearsals (and plenty of time to relax!) On Saturday, most athletic teams had a game against Portsmouth Abbey for parents to watch.
But in some ways, Family Weekend was different. Comments from teachers were released the week before Family Weekend, and replaced parents meeting individually with teachers. This year, less formal open rehearsals replaced the Works in Progress concert. At open rehearsals, parents could watch a brief version of a rehearsal that was more similar to an introduction to the group.
The addition of written comments was the biggest difference in my life. Many of my teachers produced a flurry of big assignments and quizzes, and tests in the weeks leading up to the comments were meant to paint a preliminary picture of how each student was doing. However, the big assignments and tests in many classes over a week or two made me and many friends stressed.
This year, parents got an idea of how their student was doing and could talk about it with the student’s advisor. This was probably a more organized system so that teachers did not have to meet with every family of every student in every class over Family Weekend. Eli Hines, a sophomore boarding student, mentioned that his mother “didn’t love [the lack of parent-teacher conferences because] she wanted to know more [from his teachers about his performance].
The open rehearsals were different as well, which was a double-edged sword. It lowered the pressure on students, but the late-night concerts they replaced were fun–everyone got to dress up, and there was a sense of occasion. This year, students in ensembles headed to the music wing after lunch. And open rehearsals worked better for some ensembles than others. Chorus, for example, had a large crowd of parents and students for much of the hour. But Jazz, Advanced Jazz, and Vocal Jazz and Pop shared the hour dedicated to open rehearsals, and only a smattering of parents and perhaps only five student audience members came.
But despite the changes, negative and positive, the spirit of Family Weekend remained intact. Parents still got to attend classes to get a feel for the teachers, they still got to embarrass their children in front of their friends, and see the bucolic New England campest at its very finest.