Family weekend kicked off with an activity-packed Siblings Day, which started at 4:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21. Siblings Day was hosted by Carissa Johnson, director of student transitions and family engagement, and Nicole Vavra, campus visit and event coordinator. This was the second Siblings Day event in the history of the university. It concluded with an amazing turn out. The event used teamwork and fun to engage families while students showed their siblings around Washburn.
“[It’s] for current Washburn students to bring their siblings onto the campus to show them what being a college student is like,” Vavra said. “We get to see a lot of movies that show what college is like, but now siblings are getting to see what their actual brothers and sisters are doing here on Washburn’s campus, and they get to see how exciting that is.”
Siblings Day began with everyone meeting in the Student Recreation and Wellness Center to check in. Participants were gifted a ‘Family Day’ event pin and asked to download the ‘Goose Chase’ app.
The first event of the night was a scavenger hunt. The app allowed the students to create their own sibling teams for the hunt. The scavenger hunt consisted of each team frantically racing around the entire Washburn campus in search for specific sentimental monuments. Each group had to snap a selfie with the monument on the list and each selfie was uploaded to the app. The app’s timeline revealed everyone’s fun selfies for each contestant to determine which place they were in.
Freshman Sierra Haner was joined by her sister for their first experience for Siblings Day. Haner said that she was in the marching band and was unable to attend the Family Day event Saturday, Sept. 22, as she would be performing that evening. Siblings Day gave her a chance to spend time with her sister.
“I think it’s kind of cool that they [Washburn] do this kind of thing, because if people aren’t from here, [they] don’t really get to see their siblings so it’s kind of nice that I can see her tonight,” Haner said.
Each scavenger hunt group was rewarded with Siblings Day t-shirts. Everyone was given pizza, cookies and lemonade. All participants sat together with their siblings to eat dinner and converse while a movie was being set up. “Boss Baby” was the film featured. After the movie was over, some of the siblings went home while others were given the option to sleep over in the dorms with the students.
“I think Washburn is a very exciting place, and I want siblings to see that, and I want them to want to come to Washburn themselves,” Vavra said.
Family Day is usually run by student organizations. The student involvement and development office offered student organizations a tabletop game of their own to run, as well as prizes and candy. Family Day commenced around 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 22 in the Mabee Library. Everyone was greeted at the door by a friendly peer educator handing out popsicles. Inside of Mabee, a cookie walk was held. The prizes were sugar cookies in the shape of our familiar Ichabod mascot.
Following the cookie walk was face painting. Washburn hired Aunt Nancy’s Face Art to decorate children’s faces. The artist that was hired to paint the faces of Washburn family members was Laura Pennock. Pennock has been painting faces for eight years. She never gets tired of painting. Even when her hands get tired, painting is never exhausting. Pennock is not a student, but she recognizes how special Family Day is.
“Everyone walks around life trying to connect to other people. When you’re at school, it’s an awesome place to meet all kinds of interesting people and do all kinds of fun things,” Pennock said. “But sometimes it can be isolating to not be with your family. They are your core people so the chance that the university gives us to be able to mix and mingle with the people we love in the place that is being so influential in our lives is really awesome.”
The rest of the campus was crowded with families gathering and laughing amongst the tables that were hosted by different organizations of the Washburn community. Some were gaining organization awareness and others were trying to gain philanthropy by offering food and drinks. There were also many fraternities searching for recruitment.
Some organizations volunteered to host tables and inflatables. Senior Mikaela Miller was tabling for the campus ministries and was also working on her second year of volunteering to run games for Family Day. Her family was unable to come but she recognizes the importance of Family Day.
“Family Day is mostly showing off our campus to people’s families and relatives who aren’t in college to maybe see people having fun at Washburn and all of the fun activities, and consider coming to Washburn when they’re at that age,” Miller said.
Students proudly showed their parents around the campus and gathered with their families to the picnic in the Memorial Union. They were offered multiple options to eat with their families.
Freshman Unique Grady was accompanied by her parents. Grady’s mother, Marie, shared her thoughts on Family Day.
“I want to hang out with my daughter and get the opportunity to meet her friends,” Marie Grady said. “Family is important, it’s important to be able to socialize with your family. Take the time out and just spend time with your family.”
Unique Grady’s father added that the event reminded him of how important this time with his daughter is. He looks forward to coming back to see her graduate in a few years.
Unique Grady was most excited to show her parents around the places she hangs out on campus.
After the picnic concluded, families spread amongst the campus. Some families crowded into the Mulvane Art Museum where the arts and crafts were held. Participants were taught how to make an ‘Egg a Bod’ out of a recycled egg carton in support of our teams.
The Family Day festival ended as the football game began. Some families left, other families stayed to support the Washburn football team. The day was shared with the appreciation that Washburn gave the community time to connect and share this day together. The overall festival concluded with laughter and the feeling of togetherness.