Summer Program Blog
When we last left off, we wrote of the students’ victory over the faculty in Wednesday afternoon’s volleyball tourney. That glorious event was followed by a barbeque dinner and then — a High School Summer Program favorite — Theology on Tap, complete with root-beer floats, in the College coffee shop.
The speaker for the evening was Rev. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem. (’94), a professor of philosophy at St. Michael’s Abbey Seminary in Orange, Calif., and a Summer Program chaplain. Answering anonymous questions that students had posted beforehand, Fr. Sebastian addressed a wide range of topics including philosophy, theology, morality, and Scripture. Summer Program staff report that this year’s students submitted a record number of inquiries, with the question box filled to the point of bursting. Even after the talk had formally concluded, the conversation continued back at the residence halls as students mingled around the courtyard fire pits.
The early Mass on Thursday morning was well-attended, as always, and at the late-morning Mass there was an unexpected treat — an impromptu choir. Sensing that musical accompaniment was needed, Summer Program prefect Thomas Quackenbush (’14) invited students to join him in the choir loft. Some 25 brave souls agreed, filling the Chapel with sound.
Then it was on to the day’s classes. In the morning, students considered the story of Abraham in Genesis. Then, in afternoon, they considered Kierkegaard’s take on Abraham’s faith.
The students in the Thomas Aquinas College High School Summer Program meet for their classes each day in “sections” — groups of 17 students and 2 tutors who, together, work their way through the texts of the program’s classical curriculum. The slideshow below features photos of each of this year’s groupings:
At the close of classes Tuesday, it was time for sports on the athletic fields — highlighted by preparation for the upcoming volleyball tourney. The winning team will play a squad made up of members of the faculty. Stay tuned for pictures!
After dinner in St. Joseph Commons, students readied for the next day’s classes (on Genesis, chapters 1-10) at study hall, with some getting a head start on next week’s Boethius readings. They then came to the Chapel for the nightly Rosary, followed by great conversations in the campus coffee shop, and still more great conversations after curfew in the residence halls. “The camaraderie in the guys’ dorm has been the best I’ve seen in all my years of working the summer program,” says Dan Selmeczy (’06), a graduate of the College and a prefect for this year’s program.
Wednesday morning began, as always, with Mass. The slideshow below shows students making their way to Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel and settling into their pews.
Each afternoon during the High School Summer Program, the focus turns from studies to sports, as students rush to the athletic fields for basketball, ultimate Frisbee, volleyball, and soccer. The following slideshow depicts some of the recent contests:
On Monday, this year’s High School Summer Program students spent the morning vigorously discussing Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, and the afternoon examining Plato’s Crito. “I’m so impressed with the enthusiasm and wonder of these students,” says Head Prefect Kathleen Sullivan. “And it’s only been the first day!”
After class, the participants placed orders for the highly coveted Summer Program 2013 t-shirts, to be distributed at the end of the two weeks. Then, for recreation, they took to the athletic fields for ultimate Frisbee, volleyball, and soccer, while others cooled off by jumping into the campus ponds. That evening they headed to the library for study time, followed by praying the Rosary in the Chapel. Everyone then met up in the campus coffee shop for some music (pianos and guitars) and games (cards, Apples to Apples, and Bananagrams).
The fun did not stop with curfew, however. In the men’s residence hall, there was pizza and wiffle-dodgeball, with donuts for the winning side. In the women’s residence hall, there was also pizza, plus good conversation and a cake for a student who was celebrating her birthday.
A few of the more ambitious women and prefects rose early Tuesday morning for a hike in the foothills surrounding the campus. Then, it was back to work, with classes on Sophocles’ Antigone and various writings from the Pre-Socratic philosophers. Afterward, students met up for a group photo — no easy feat, given the large size of this year’s program. During lunch in the Commons, there were many an animated conversation about Greek tragedies and questions about the nature of the world drawn from the early philosophers.
All 136 students and 20 prefects for the 2013 High School Summer Program have arrived! The students — who hail from across the United States, as well as from Canada, Argentina, and Belgium — made it to campus by late Sunday afternoon. With their families and members of the teaching faculty, they enjoyed a tri-tip and chicken barbeque, followed by an orientation session in St. Bernardine of Siena Library. The night then concluded with prayers back in the men’s and women’s residence halls.
This morning marked the formal beginning of the Summer Program. Chaplain Rev. Joseph Illo offered Mass in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel, after which the students set off for their first class — subject: Oedipus Rex.
“The orientation went very well,” says Admissions Director Jon Daly. “We’re looking forward to these next two weeks!”
About half of the prefects for the 2013 High School Summer program have arrived, with the rest expected this evening and tomorrow. The whole crew looks forward to welcoming our students to campus on Sunday!
Many of this year’s 135 participants will be flying into LAX. If you are one of them, go to the baggage claim area in your terminal and look for members of the College staff who will be there to greet you. They will be wearing the red T-Shirts depicted above, with the College’s crest on the front and “GREAT BOOKS Summer 2013” on the back.
Parents: If you want to stay abreast of all the learning and fun your children will be enjoying over the next two weeks, pay close attention to this blog — we will update it regularly with news and photos. Or, go “like” Thomas Aquinas College on Facebook, and updates will appear in your news feed.
Here’s looking forward to two great weeks.
May God bless you all with safe travel,
The Summer Program 2013 Staff
This blog will not go live until the start of the 2013 High School Summer Program in July, but if you are interested in attending the program, be sure to read this reflection by Kathleen Sullivan (’06). Miss Sullivan attended the program when she was in high school, and for the last seven years she has served as one of its prefects. Her essay looks back at the profound effect the program has had on her life:
As I went back to the dorm and settled into sleep, the thoughts still whirling in my head, I came to that realization as clear and vivid then as it is now, ‘This is it. This is where I am going to college. This is what I want to do.’ I want to think, to discover the truths of things, to reason and reflect on what matters in our lives, to understand the world around me from a perspective unhindered by another’s bias or predetermined mindset. I wanted to grapple with the questions that Man has always grappled with, and to learn the answers as best I could. I had realized that education was not about the amount of knowledge learned, but about how it was learned. I wanted to take control of that knowledge, guided by the wisdom of Thomas Aquinas College’s tutors, the insights and fresh perspective of my peers, and by the faith of my Catholic beliefs.
Read the whole story!
On Friday night the students of the Thomas Aquinas College 2012 High School Summer Program celebrated their last evening together — and the completion of this year’s program — with gratitude and elegance. First they gathered in St. Joseph Commons for a formal dinner, followed by Eucharistic Adoration in the Chapel, where they gave thanks to God for the many blessings He has bestowed upon them over these past two weeks. Then they headed back to the Commons for a celebratory dance, complete with dancing and student-produced entertainment, topped off with a 22-minute slideshow produced by the prefects.
Many students were up early Saturday morning to bid their friends a fond farewell. They began leaving the campus as early as 4:00 a.m. With tears, hugs, and promises to meet again, the students said goodbye. Reflecting back on the program, one student remarked that the time had flown by, with two weeks seeming more like a day.
The Admissions Staff looks forward to welcoming many of these students back to campus in the coming months. May God bless them!
Friday — one last day of Euclidean propositions, one last day of Boethius. Summer Program Director Dr. Michael Letteney opened his afternoon class with a quote from Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy, Prose 3: “There seems to be a hopeless conflict between divine foreknowledge of all things and freedom of the human will.” How does Lady Philosophy resolve this apparent conflict? Dr. Letteney noted that the discussion in today’s class was very lively, with questions ranging from divine foreknowledge to freedom and the place of prayer in God’s providential plan.
After class students received a few farewell gifts, including a College t-shirt, a book bag, and a collection of P.G. Wodehouse’ writings. They then headed outside, where they were treated to an unusual, but refreshing sight: a light Southern California thunderstorm crossing the mountains above the College, sprinkling the campus along the way. As this post is being written, the students are getting ready for tonight’s banquet, entertainment, and dance, with a video slideshow to follow.
The Summer Program staff — made up of both current students and graduates of the College — have remarked over the last two weeks at what a fine group of students attended this year’s program. We all very much look forward to keeping in touch, and to welcoming them back to visit the campus over the coming year.
We will have one final post with pictures of tonight’s entertainment and dance, and tomorrow’s goodbyes. For now, farewell, and God bless!