University Community Unites at Colonials Weekend

Students, friends and family gathered for fall activities, lectures, a block party and a concert featuring the Fray.

The Fray
The Fray played in the Charles E. Smith Center during Colonials Weekend.
October 21, 2013

Colonials Weekend brought students, family and friends of the George Washington University to campus for three days filled with activities that highlighted GW pride.

More than 4,200 attendees joined festivities that kicked off on Friday. Opening events included a ribbon-cutting ceremony to showcase the newly renovated Gelman Library entrance floor, best-selling author David Sedaris performing at Lisner Auditorium and a cabaret showcasing the talents of students from the music, theatre and dance departments.

Colonials Invasion served as the tip-off event for the weekend and the official start of the men’s and women’s basketball season. Audiences enjoyed acrobatics from GW gymnastics; a special dance by the women’s basketball team; and performances by student groups GW Bhangra, the GW Troubadours and Sons of Pitch. Men’s basketball senior standout Isaiah Armwood stole the show by dunking over his teammate sophomore Kevin Larsen, who is 6’10, at the close of the celebration.

On Saturday morning, GW Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Andrew Sonn led students and parents on a tour of Gettysburg, Pa. Two buses full of Colonials left at 8 a.m. to visit the city’s battlegrounds at a special time—this year marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg and President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

President Steven Knapp, Student Association President Julia Susuni, Parents’ Association Advisory Council President Dan Curran, Executive Director of the Office of Parent Services Rodney Johnson and GW parent and Alumni Association member Buddy Lesavoy participated in a welcome ceremony at Lisner Auditorium, also held on Saturday morning. Vice Admiral (retired) Mel Williams Jr., the senior associate dean for military and veterans initiatives, provided a keynote speech about GW values that received a standing ovation.

The weekend continued with the 20th annual meeting of the Parents’ Association, in which members shared recent highlights and accomplishments. The Mount Vernon Campus also hosted Octoberfest, where guests participated in fall activities like arts and crafts, pumpkin carving and more.


Dressed in tight jeans and a black leather jacket, the Fray’s lead singer Isaac Slade brought audience members to their feet with familiar hits and new songs during Saturday night’s concert at the Charles E. Smith Center.


The Denver-based band played their catchy hits “Look After You,” “How to Save a Life” and “You Found Me,” during which Mr. Slade showed off his instrumental chops on the piano. Students and parents cheered as the singer left the stage and made his way into the crowd. The Fray spent a significant portion of the concert previewing songs from the band’s new album, which will be released in January.


Mr. Slade reminded Fray fans of the band’s humble beginnings and unexpected success, saying that when he and his band mates started making music together, they were trying to quit their jobs at coffee shops, ice cream parlors and auto repair shops.


“I thought I was going to be in this band for two and a half years — maybe three, if I was lucky. And we’ve been here for eleven years,” he said, as fans erupted in claps and screams.


Sunday’s 11th annual FRIENDS Neighborhood Block Party boasted free treats, raffles and information from different local organizations that set up tables along I Street. Visitors were able to buy handmade jewelry and meet representatives from the D.C. Office on Aging, GW Relay for Life and more.


“The Block Party is a great opportunity for us to engage with our core neighbors in Foggy Bottom as well as those who wouldn't otherwise make it to GW throughout the year,” said Director of Community Relations Britany Waddell. “The Block Party seems to get bigger and better every year, and we could not be happier with the positive response from the community.”


Other popular events during Colonials Weekend included meet-and-greets with university deans on Saturday, Sunday’s Jazz Brunch, a silent auction and several lessons and lectures as part of the “GW’s best” series.


Mr. Curran, whose four children have all attended the university, said the best part of the weekend was becoming immersed in the community where his children go to school.


“We’ve been going to Colonials Weekend for the last five years now, and it’s always a terrific experience getting to see the environment our kids live and study under. We get to see the facilities they have classes in and the variety of programs they get to engage in, which is really important to us,” he said.


Mr. Johnson said he received great feedback from parents who came to campus to enjoy the weekend and spend time with their students.


“The biggest compliment we can receive is when the parent of a junior or senior says, ‘This is the third or fourth year in a row we’ve attended.’ That tells me we’re doing something right—these families keep coming back to GW,” Mr. Johnson said.


Next year’s Colonials Weekend is scheduled for Oct. 17th to 19th.