Tonight marks the beginning of Junior Parents Weekend, a three-day event when sons and daughters of Notre Dame will show their parents how they have spent the past three years. JPW co-chair Marta Stepien said the weekend will give parents of junior students a unique opportunity to share in their children’s college experience. “It’s really a setting for both parents and students to get to know the energy and environment of the school,” Stepien said. The weekend festivities will kick off with an evening Gala, followed by a Saturday of collegiate workshops hosted by each of the four colleges, she said. After a Saturday night mass, students and their parents will gather for a President’s Dinner at the Joyce Center. Stepien said the seating arrangement of the dinner will allow students to bond with their parents while also becoming better acquainted with the families of their friends and classmates. “We set up the seating so that everyone sits with their friends, and all their families are together,” Stepien said. “Not only do you get to spend time with your parents, but also with the people you chose to sit with and their parents.” Stepien said the weekend concludes with a brunch Sunday morning in the Joyce Center. Stepien said she expects this year’s JPW will be extremely successful. The rise in ticket sales for weekend events demonstrated an unexpected rise in student enthusiasm, she said. “In preemptive tickets sales we have surpassed the total people expected from the past 10 years,” Stepien said. “However, we’re still hoping that even more parents and students will show up.” Despite the time-intensive effort required to plan and coordinate JPW, the job was not stressful due to the devotion and hard work of her co-workers, who ultimately made the planning experience a positive one, Stepien said. “I’m really just happy that I get to be a part of it all,” Stepien said. Stepien said parents will not only see what their sons and daughters are studying academically, but also how they relax outside of the confines of the classroom. This makes JPW a very special weekend, she said. “At Notre Dame, there’s such a balance between work and play that students really want to show their parents what they do in the classroom, but also what they do to unwind,” Stepien said.