Flood into the City for Commencement 2011
of mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, grandparents,
aunts, uncles and additional extended family members are
on their way to Northampton for the seminal moment of their
graduates' Smith College experience:
Martha Gilbert ’11
with her father, Chuck, during her JYA in Hamburg.
Her parents are visiting Smith for Commencement weekend.
Each year they swell into the
city, filling hotel rooms and restaurant tables, lining up
at the local coffee shops and jockeying for parking spaces
along Elm Street on Sunday morning before the 10 a.m. ceremony.
“My parents have had everything planned out since sophomore year,” noted Elizabeth
Niehoff ’11, daughter of Edward and Ann Niehoff, who are traveling to Northampton
from Bronxville, N.Y.
Leota Boesen of Woodlands, Texas,
recalls her family planned even further ahead. “My mother made reservations at the Hotel Northampton in
the fall of 1974 so that rest of my family could stay there in May 1978!”
Some families will arrive early
enough in the weekend to catch the Ivy Day Parade and Awards
Convocation on Saturday morning or attend their graduate’s departmental
reception that afternoon. Others will plan to listen to the live music beneath
1,400 rice paper lanterns during Illumination in the evening.
While on campus, many families
will crowd into campus dining rooms for the commencement
luncheon, following the convocation Sunday morning. Smith
Dining Services will host 2,150 family members, in addition
to seniors, for the luncheon.
For other meals, Sharon and
Chuck Gilbert, the parents of Martha Gilbert ’11,
plan to visit their favorite eateries in town. “We plan to
dine at Side Street Café in Florence, La Veracruzana, and
probably Apollo Grill in Easthampton. And we might try to
have breakfast at Sylvester’s but past experience tells us
that it might be difficult unless we get up with the dawn!”
Alexis-Clair Roehrich ’11
and her parents Kristine and Mark.
the Gilberts lived in Northampton for nearly two decades,
until about 1997, dining is only one part of their packed
“We’ll visit friends, walk around downtown and enjoy the
sights,” said Sharon. "Illumination is a highlight of Commencement
weekend for us because Martha is a member of Groove and they
will be singing that evening."
Other families’ weekend agendas include helping their daughters
move out of campus housing.
Kristine Morgan-Roehrich and
Mark Roehrich of Wisconsin plan to help their daughter Alexis-Clair
Roehrich ’11 move out of Dawes House and into a local
apartment where she will reside for the summer while working
for the Smith Executive Education program.
But the Roehrich
family will also take time to appreciate the area. “We love
Northampton,” said Kristine. “It is the quintessential New
Meanwhile those whose students
are entering the Smith Class of 2015 might want to make hotel
reservations now for the college’s 137th commencement.
After all, “it’s
a bit like planning a wedding,” commented Virginia Steinberg ’84.