By Michelle SchneiderNovember 4, 2019
Family Weekend 2019 at the U.S. Military Academy allowed family members to reconnect with their cadets Oct. 25.
"We're lucky we have beautiful weather! I thought it was going to be cold and rainy," a mother of a cadet said as she toured West Point alongside other parents.
The day began with an introduction by Superintendent Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams at Robinson Auditorium followed by a series of presentations from West Point leadership and faculty that helped shed light on the cadet's learning experience this academic year.
After parents learned about the academy's curriculum, they were able to engage in hands-on activities like firing weapons in virtual reality mode at the Simulation Center and observe the Indoor Obstacle Course at Hayes Gym.
They also learned more about the history of West Point by touring places like the West Point Cemetery, Superintendent's House and Old Cadet Chapel. Others spent time at the Jefferson Library to become more informed about resources and services on post. Various tours of West Point happened throughout the weekend to include Hudson River Cruises offering views of West Point from the water.
"Family Day gives parents an idea of what the cadets go through, what is planned, how they live, the structure of it," said Kelley Valle, the mother of Class of 2022 Cadet Finnian Valle. "I love coming up here. It's beautiful. I love the history and meeting all the other families, the sense of camaraderie they have."
Although West Point offers beautiful views and historic sites and monuments, some family members saw visiting the barracks and mess hall as meaningful because it gave them a chance to understand their cadet's daily routine.
"It's been great, we got here yesterday and getting to see him was the best part, but I am excited to go see the barracks and see where he lives," Deirdre Mateas, sister of Class of 2021 Cadet Brian Rudolph, said. "It was fun to spend time with him. Seeing where he gets to spend his time is really special."
Mateas visited her brother with their mother, Collen Rudolph, and they flew in from Chicago. It was her first time at West Point and their mother's fourth. When asked what changes or growth their mother has seen in her son since the last time she visited, she said he is more acclimated to the challenges of cadet life.
"He does not seem significantly different, but his demeanor is more laid back. It was very relaxing. We got to spend one on one time with him and he's very relaxed this year now that he's a junior, so it's been a very pleasant experience," Colleen Rudolph said.
The weekend helps parents see their cadets' daily routine and understand the challenges of Army life. However, Class of 2021 Cadet Brian Rudolph said there's more to Family Weekend that his sister, mom and even himself can take away from it.
"I've been getting to show my mom and sister the history behind this place and it gives me a reason to appreciate it because it goes underappreciated sometimes," Rudolph said. "It reminds me how cool this place is and getting to spend time with them is the biggest part."