Exeter Family Weekend 2021

Parents return to campus to reconnect with students, soak in Exeter life.

October 15, 2021

More than a thousand moms and dads descended on Exeter’s campus Friday for a Family Weekend a year overdue.

The annual October pilgrimage was consigned to Zoom last fall because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the safety measures the pandemic necessitated. The resumption of the tradition — with health and safety restrictions still in place — featured a variety of programming for parents and families and opportunities to meet and hear from faculty, deans, coaches and counselors.

>> Unable to attend this year's Family Weekend. Watch recordings of many of our events at Exeter Live.

Highlights of the two-day event include:

  • An address from Principal Bill Rawson ’71; P’08 and Dean of Students Russell Weatherspoon P’92, ‘95, ‘97’ 01;
  • A faculty panel featuring department heads;
  • Grade-specific programming from the College Counseling Office;
  • An assembly address delivered by Chris Do P’22.

The latter’s presentation served as the informal kickoff to the weekend’s events and opened with an introduction from Otto Do ’22, a four-year senior who lives in Peabody Hall, who admitted to struggling with how best to introduce his father.

“I called him last night and asked him, ‘Dad, what are you? I don’t know what to call you!’” the younger Do recounted to the Assembly Hall audience of students. Families watched remotely from Love Gym and the Elizabeth Phillips Academy Center. “I don’t really know what exactly it is he does because he does a little bit of everything.”

Chris Do told his son to call him a teacher and content creator — “at Exeter I’ve yet to see a teacher wear a snapback cap to class,” Otto said — but Do’s remarks confirmed that his life and career defy simple definition. He is best known as an Emmy Award-winning designer, but he delighted Assembly Hall with tales from his journey from war-torn Saigon with his family as a toddler to his design work with performing artists like Gnarls Barkley and Cold Play.

Do emphasized that the road to a successful life is roundabout, and he filled his presentation with life lessons, urging the students to “lean into your weird, because what makes you weird makes you wonderful,” and to embrace rejection — “No means ‘Next Opportunity.’”

His own failures, including rejections from every college to which he applied, led to a chance encounter with a graphic designer that altered his path forever. Do’s design firm, Blind, has done work with a who’s who of clients, from Nike to Google to the NFL.

Today, Do has turned his attention to entrepreneurial pursuits and to empowering learners and doers to “do what they love without losing their soul.” His parting lesson — “making a living is good, but making a difference is better” — earned a standing ovation from the students.

Family Weekend continues Saturday with the Rawson-Weatherspoon address in the morning and varsity athletic contests in the afternoon.