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Redbird relatives flock to Illinois State campus for Family Weekend

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Jonathan Leppert, left, dips a flower into a tin bucket filled with liquid nitrogen along with his mother, Brenda Leppert, right at the Science Laboratory Building. Professor Marjorie Jones, middle, gave chemistry demonstrations Saturday for an open house during Illinois State University's Family Weekend.

NORMAL — Illinois State University welcomed flocks of Redbird families Saturday for the second day of Family Weekend.

Even though a passing rain shower was on the minds of some, many parents and siblings still came out to make the most of the day.

Glen Dennis and his wife Deann said they were excited to see Redbirds football take on Missouri State after driving down from Pontiac.

“We’re hoping for no rain,” Dennis said. He added his daughter plays the flute in ISU’s Big Red Marching Machine band.

“Came to see the music more than anything,” he continued.

“We’re thinking the best is yet to come.”


A family looks on at their student practicing the clarinet with the Big Red Marching Machine Saturday on the Illinois State University quad before the football game.

The university had a packed schedule of activities to keep the whole gang of students, parents and children entertained throughout the day. ISU mascot Reggie Redbird also made the rounds, greeting folks from the Quad to Hancock Stadium.


Reggie Redbird lends a hand on the quad.

Several university departments also held open houses, tours and demonstrations for visitors. At the Science Laboratory Building, biochemistry professor Marjorie Jones offered people a chance to dip a daisy into a bucket of liquid nitrogen — and fielded questions from fathers like Harry Boatman.

The dad asked the professor what would happen if you stick your finger in the bucket.

“It would become like this,” Jones said, holding up a yellow flower that was frozen in seconds by the super-cool fluid.

She then crumbled the petals into pieces — they were cold and hard to the touch.


Biochemistry professor Marjorie Jones, left, pours cool vapor from a flask of water and dry ice over the hand of Harry Boatman, right, on Saturday at the Science Laboratory Building at Illinois State University. His daughters Brooklynn, second from left, and Julia, middle, looked on with his wife, Paula.

Boatman, whose daughter studies biochemistry, told The Pantagraph that the demonstration was “all fun stuff.”

Jones said when people touch something, “we get a different impression of the chemistry and biochemistry that’s going on.”

Jonathan Leppert, a junior student at ISU, was also amused by the demonstration.

“We haven’t done something like that in lab,” the biology major said. “I didn’t know what (liquid nitrogen) could do to plants.”

His mother, Brenda Leppert, was visiting from Mokena that day. She also said she hadn’t seen something like that before.

Nancy and Ray Pehler, whose son Ethan studies at ISU, also visited campus on Saturday. They said they were excited for the football game.

“I would love to see them win,” Ray Pehler said.

Watch now: Illinois State back at Hancock to take on No. 16 Missouri State

He added that the students they encountered were “unbelievably nice.”

Alwyn and Loren Francis from Naperville said they got to help produce a television news program with their son Marcel at ISU’s TV-10 News station.

“All four of us,” Alwyn Francis said, “as my wife was anchor, my other son was co-anchor, Marcel, my other son did weather, and I did the sports.”

He said when they made their first visit to campus, they got to see other families run the show with their students.

Homecoming began as a means to reunite friends and students after World War I.

“It’s kind of cool now, four years later, to actually do it ourselves,” he said.

Loren Francis added they’ll get an online link for the show they can keep as a “really nice memento, as our son finishes ISU.”

“It's been an absolutely brilliant experience,” Loren continued. “I can't say enough about ISU and the College of Communications — it's an excellent program and an excellent school.

“He has benefited so much.”

Contact Brendan Denison at (309) 820-3238. Follow Brendan Denison on Twitter: @BrendanDenison


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