Students and families reunite for Family Weekend

Students pose for photos with their families at Family Weekend. The events included campus tours, a tailgate before the football game and info sessions. // Photos courtesy of Raftermen Photography

This past weekend from Oct. 1 – 3, families and students were reconnected all across campus to participate in Tech’s 33rd Family Weekend.

“We had over 3,700 guests (1,100 families) attend this past weekend from 41 states, Puerto Rico, and six countries — it was our largest Family Weekend in GT history,” said Laci Weeden, director of Parent & Family Programs whose office organizes Family Weekend each year.

The three-day event featured many activities, including annual events such as the Institute Address with President Ángel Cabrera, campus tours, a tailgate before the football game, activities with the CRC, special performances with Georgia Tech Arts and a Jazz Brunch with Dean of Students John Stein.

It also featured education information sessions, college and school receptions and a Family Fun Night on Friday, Oct. 1 at the College Football Hall of Fame.

“It takes 10-11 months to plan each year,” Weeden said. “Our Friday night activities change from year to year and special education sessions change from year to year.”

Education sessions this year included “Supporting First-Year and Second-Year Student Success @ Georgia Tech,” “‘Progress and Service’ Through Civic Engagement,” “What is Well-Being and Why is it Important?” and numerous others.

The event, originally known as Parents’ Weekend, was first hosted by the Tech Alumni Association until 2009 when the Office of Parent & Family Programs took over the multi-day event.

Weeden and others in the Office of Parent & Family Programs always choose to host Family Weekend around this time of year.

“Family Weekend occurs around six weeks into the semester and that is intentional,” Weeden said. “Typically, students have had their first round of exams and could use a little break, a visit from their family, and some hugs and to keep them going until Thanksgiving Break and Winter Break.”

Families and students were especially grateful for this year’s Family Weekend after last year’s event had to be cancelled.

“Family Weekend 2020 had to be cancelled because we just didn’t know enough about COVID at the time and the vaccine was not out yet,” Weeden said. “We also did not want to run the risk of families getting sick coming to campus or students, faculty, and staff getting sick either.”

As with many second-year students at Tech, many second-year families were excited to experience a Tech tradition for the first time this year.

“We knew our second-year parents were going to be just as eager to attend as first-year families, so we planned for larger numbers this year,” Weeden said.

Part of this planning included ensuring that the event was as COVID-safe as possible for all attendees.

“We ordered 4,000 GT branded masks to provide at check-in, provided plenty of hand sanitizer, tried to host in larger venues if the event was indoors, and hosted at outdoors events or tents when we could as well,” Weeden said. T-shirts were sold for this Family Weekend that read, “Reunited – and it feels so good.” For many families, the statement couldn’t be truer.

“Many families were grateful for the opportunity to see their student, visit campus and “feel normal” for a weekend,” Weeden said.

Students who participated this weekend agreed.

“I had an awesome time at Family Weekend,” said Robert Dunning, fourth-year ME. “My family and I were able to tailgate with other alumni and students and visit the College Football Hall of Fame. Regardless of the score at the end of the game on Saturday, I had one of my best experiences at Bobby Dodd because I got to share it with my parents and my sister.”

Overall, this year’s Family Weekend provided an engaging experience for families to fit right in with the mission of Parent & Family Programs.

Through this tradition, Tech provides “opportunities for parents and families to stay connected and involved in their student’s educational experience.”