Grad Week ’98 offers graduates a last hurrah

The traditional GW “Senior Week” has been replaced this year by “Grad Week ’98” – a week of events for both graduating seniors and students receiving graduate degrees.

“We wanted to be more inclusive and provide something for everybody,” said Amy Feldman, coordinator of leadership development and special events in the Student Activities Center.

Feldman worked with a committee of students comprised mostly of juniors and seniors to develop the “Up, Up and Away” theme for this year’s activities. The week runs from May 11 to May 17.

Most graduation week events will be free with a valid GW ID. But the activities are geared specifically toward graduates and their guests, said Soraya Tabibi, 1997-98 Program Board chair and a member of the week’s planning committee.

The week will begin with a “Senior Social” at Tequila Grill Monday night, which will give graduating students a chance to relax and unwind during their last week at GW.

Tuesday evening’s festivities begin with a wine and cheese reception in the Marvin Center’s Colonnade Gallery. Later that night, the PB will show its final movie of the year, “As Good As It Gets,” on the H Street Terrace.

The Class of 1998 will dedicate its class gift in Wilson Park on the southwest corner of 22nd and I streets Wednesday morning. In the afternoon, students can feast at a cookout in the Rose Garden.

A reception in the Thurston Hall cafeteria Wednesday night will provide an opportunity for seniors to reminisce about midnight pizzas and late-night chat sessions in the freshman residence hall.

Free T-shirt giveaways will return during Grad Week. Last year, shirts were not distributed because organizers said they wanted to concentrate on events rather than on handouts. This year, however, students can pick up free T-shirts at Tuesday and Wednesday’s events.

Tabibi said she is glad this year’s activities include free T-shirts but is uncertain why the University decided to reinstate the giveaways.

A bus trip to Atlantic City is also scheduled for Thursday at a cost of $15 per person.

The following afternoon, the Board of Chaplains will sponsor a University interfaith baccalaureate service at the Western Presbyterian Church.

Individual school graduation ceremonies will take place all day Saturday and part of Sunday in the Smith Center.

Feldman said she expects 150 students to attend the smaller events and 500 students to go to the larger ones.

Saturday evening, students, friends and family members can don their formal attire and dancing shoes for the Monumental Celebration at Union Station. Tickets are $40 for graduating students and $45 for all other guests.

In February, the University’s Commencement Committee unanimously recommended canceling the gala because it said last year’s low turnout did not justify the cost of the event. But earlier this semester, University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg said he would find funds to continue the event this year.

Students have supported the effort to keep the event alive, administrators said.

Director of University Special Events Lynn Shipway said almost 2,500 Monumental Celebration tickets had been sold as of May 6, a jump from last year’s total ticket sales of 1,700.

Shipway said she believes the heightened attention to Commencement spawned by student opposition to moving the ceremony off the Ellipse boosted ticket sales.

Sales have been steady since tickets went on sale in March, Shipway said. But she said now that final exams are wrapping up and students are turning their attention toward graduation, the total should hit 2,500.

“A lot of it is because of the marketing efforts made this year, especially by the students on the planning committee,” Shipway said. “We were able to get information into people’s hands earlier.”

Shipway said she hopes the interest sparked this year will convince Trachtenberg to continue the event in future years.

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