Summer Program Blog
It was back to work Monday morning after an exciting weekend. In the morning’s class students examined the definitions, postulates, and common notions in Book I of Euclid’s Elements. They will get a chance to put this knowledge to work during study hall tonight, when — for the first time — they will attempt to demonstrate Euclidean propositions on classroom chalkboards!
After class, Admissions Director Jon Daly (below) hosted a discussion session in the campus coffee shop, where he described the College’s admissions process and answered questions. Typically more than half of High School Summer Program students go on to enroll at the College.
Then came lunch, followed by the afternoon class, in which students discussed a new addition to the Summer Program curriculum, Tolstoys’ Death of Ivan Ilyich. Other than the Euclidean props, the highlight of this evening will be the much-anticipated basketball tournament — pictures to follow!
Sunday began with Mass in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel, with early risers attending Mass in the extraordinary form at 7:15, and the rest of the group going to the ordinary form Mass at 9:00. Because students would be spending the day in Los Angeles — and not returning until late in the evening — there was then a study session in the library, so that all would have time to prepare for Monday’s classes. Afterward came lunch, and then students, prefects, chaplains, and a few tutors boarded three coach buses for the city. The first stop was the Getty Museum in the Santa Monica Mountains, with its panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and the vast expanse of metropolitan L.A.
At the Getty students viewed world-renowned paintings, ancient Greek and Roman sculptures, illuminated manuscripts, and other works of art, including some by Monet, Van Gogh, and Renoir, as well as sketches by Da Vinci and Michelangelo. Students also found time to take plenty of pictures around the museum’s beautiful gardens, fountains, and outdoor patios.
At about 5:00 p.m. the group re-boarded the buses for a trip to the Hollywood Bowl, where students enjoyed a quick pizza dinner on the picnic grounds before settling in for the performance. The night’s concert was Pagliacci & Cavalleria rusticana, billed as “the extreme, no-holds-barred passions of jealous lovers in this beloved double-bill from two Italian opera composers at the top of their game.” Students delighted in the spirited performance, relaxing under the stars on a hot summer night in the Hollywood Hills.
The concert ended fairly late (about 10:30 or so), at which time students returned to the buses back to campus. Then it was off to bed for some much-needed rest before Monday’s classes on Euclid’s Elements and Tolstoy’s Death of Ivan Ilyich.
The Summer Program students are in Los Angeles today, with visits to the Getty Center (above) and the Hollywood Bowl. We will post more photos from those outings as soon as they become available, but in the meantime, we have some new pictures from yesterday’s events. Below is a short slideshow from the hike that some students took to the “painter’s shack” while the rest of the group was at the Punch Bowls. The group dabbled with watercolors under the leadership of head women’s prefect Kathleen Sullivan (’06):
And here are some photos from Saturday night’s barbeque dinner, presented by Mr. Daly and the Admissions staff:
After Saturday’s Punch Bowls Hike, students enjoyed some down time on the academic quadrangle and in the campus coffee shop:
Then, that evening, Director Jon Daly and the Admissions crew prepared a delicious tri-tip barbeque. From there followed the highly anticipated Open Mic Night:
After the performances, the group took a Rosary walk, starting at the Chapel …
… and continuing down to the Lourdes Grotto, where students placed their candles around the statue of the Blessed Mother:
Finally everyone came together on the back patio of St. Joseph Commons for some popcorn, candy, and a movie — The Chorus. From there it was back to the residence halls for some rest before Sunday’s trip big to Los Angeles!
After rising early on Saturday morning, over 100 Summer Program students joined the prefects on a hike through the Los Padres National Forest. The trail, which borders the campus, leads to the refreshing (but cold!) Punch Bowls — two naturally formed pools of spring water.
The students greatly enjoyed the three-mile canyon hike, climbing over boulders, crossing the creek beds, and finally enjoying lunch and a dip in the cool water at the top.
After dinner on Friday night, students met up in St. Bernardine of Siena Library for a dramatic — and, at times, hilarious — reading of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. To allow as many students to participate as possible, some of the major roles were divvied up among several actors. And delighting all with his performance of Algernon “Algy” Moncrieff was none other than the Summer Program’s director, Dr. Christopher Decaen.
Afterward, students headed down to the lower part of the campus, where they prayed along the College’s new outdoor Stations of the Cross. From there, they walked over to the three spring-fed ponds for sing-along by the campfire.
In the first of Friday’s two classes, the Summer Program students looked at Pascal’s “wager” over the existence of God. Then, in the second session, using St. Thomas’s fifth way, they looked at a proof for God’s existence which relies on seeing that natural bodies act for an end. In support of part of St. Thomas’s argument, students also read Jean Henri Fabre’s detailed descriptions of the grey cricket. Together these readings, contrary to the claims of Pascal, provide evidence for the existence of God.
For afternoon recreation there were many options: Auditions for open-mic night, games on the athletic fields, a hike to the “painter’s shack,” practice for The Importance of Being Earnest, resting, reading, or visiting in the residence halls. Some students, though, decided to have a tea party with breakfast bread, a lunch cake, and a variety of teas:
The evening promises to be fun, with the much-anticipated dramatic reading of The Importance of Being Earnest, followed by prayers along the College’s new Stations of the Cross and a campfire and sing-a-long. Next, an exciting weekend is in store, with a wilderness hike on Saturday and trips to the Getty Museum and the Hollywood Bowl on Sunday.
What is faith?
This is just one of the questions that Summer Program students grappled with in their two classes today. At the morning session they continued their recent discussions about the Book of Genesis, examining Abraham’s relationships with Sarah, Hagar and, most significantly, Isaac — the promised heir whom Abraham was willing to sacrifice out of obedience to God. The students then returned to the sacrifice of Isaac in their afternoon class, where they considered Søren Kierkegaard’s four variations of the story in Fear and Trembling.
Next up is a lecture this afternoon from tutor Dr. John Nieto on the subject of art and beauty. Tonight there will be more dance practice and socializing, plus preparation for tomorrow’s classes on Pascal, Fabre, and St. Thomas Aquinas.
At the end of Thursday’s classes, students filled the campus coffee shop to capacity for a lecture by College tutor Dr. John Nieto, “On Art and Beauty.” Dr. Nieto supplemented his remarks with a PowerPoint slideshow depicting many famous sculptures and paintings, several of which are at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, which the group will visit on Sunday
In his lecture, Dr. Nieto explained St. Thomas Aquinas’s definition of beauty, advising students that, when they tour the Getty’s exhibits, they should examine every work for beauty’s three characteristics — integrity or unity, proportionality, and clarity. The talk was well received, giving the students a better understanding of how to approach various kinds of art.
Discussion of Dr. Nieto’s talk continued through the dinner hour, during which prefects announced the cast of Friday night’s dramatic reading of The Importance of Being Earnest. Among the show’s performers will be the Summer Program’s director, Dr. Christopher Decaen, who will play the part of Algernon Moncrieff. Prefects also announced auditions for Saturday’s Open Mic night, which promises to include music, comedy, and possibly even some juggling from this year’s talented students.
After dinner was study hall, and students read passages from Pascal, Fabre, and St. Thomas Aquinas. Some even got a head start on next week’s lessons by beginning Tolstoy’s Death of Ivan Ilyich. Then came the nightly Rosary which, for the first time, was led by the students themselves, and not the prefects.
During the evening recreation time there were was another dance class — swing and rhumba — in St. Joseph Commons. “The girls are eager to dance,” says prefect Patrick Cross (’14). “And the boys, well, they’re getting much better!” The class was only half an hour long but, once again, most of the participants continued practicing until curfew. When they arrived back in their respective residence halls, the men and women enjoyed cheese and crackers, recapping the day’s lessons and experiences before tucking in for the night.
There were no afternoon classes on Wednesday, so students and prefects used the time for a program-wide volleyball tournament. There were 10 teams in all, each with six to eight players of varying skill and experience levels. It was a double-elimination tourney, and the winning squad then moved on to challenge a team of the College’s tutors plus one “ringer” — Summer Program Chaplain Rev. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem. (’94). It was hard-fought, best-of-three match, but the tutors eked out a close win in the first game, and then pulled away for a decisive victory in the second.
Afterward the tutors and their families joined with the students for a barbeque dinner on the lawn between Sts. Peter and Paul Hall and St. Bernardine of Siena Library. Next, it was on to study hall, where the students finished passages from Genesis and Kierkegaard, and looked ahead to upcoming readings by Tolstoy, Fabre, and Pascal.
Wednesday night’s Rosary included a special blessing — Eucharistic adoration in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel. Prior to exposition, Fr. Sebastian gave a beautiful talk about how Jesus left us not merely a photograph by which to remember Him, but his real, physical presence in the form of the Blessed Sacrament. Throughout the adoration period, Fr. Sebastian and Chaplain Rev. Paul Raftery, O.P., manned the Chapel’s two confessionals, hearing students’ confessions and offering God’s absolution. It was a time of great peace and grace!
The evening then concluded with a dance lesson in preparation for the upcoming, end-of-the-program soiree. Prefect Dan Selmeczy (’08) taught some basic merengue and swing steps to the students, whom he called “some of the best” he’s ever seen. It seemed that everyone attended the class — and stayed to continue dancing afterward.
At curfew the men and women returned to their residence halls for pretzels, mustard, and good conversation. Then it was off to bed!