Summer Program Blog
The 2016 High School Summer Program is drawing to an end, but our young geometricians are as focused and determined as ever! This morning’s session marked the fourth and penultimate class on Euclid’s Elements, and the students have become quite adept at demonstrating propositions. Today they confidently worked their way through Book I, Propositions 11, 13, and 15, amazed that something that seemed so foreign and complicated — only days ago — is now so familiar and comprehensible.
In the second class, students continued their discussions of Boethius, which have spilled into the Commons and the residence halls. One prefect recently heard a group of students passionately discussing Lady Philosophy’s explanations of the “false goods” and their perfection in God. Alas, today’s class marks the end of the Boethius portion of this year’s program. In tomorrow’s afternoon session — the last class of summer 2016! — students will examine Flannery O’Connor’s Everything That Rises Must Converge.
Before then, though, there is still much fun to he bad, including this afternoon’s 3-on-3 basketball tournament. Come back tomorrow for new pictures!
This post resumes where the last one left off, namely, yesterday’s dance class, during which students worked on swing, rumba, and waltz. By all reports, they are more than adequately prepared for the end-of-the-program dance which is — gulp — tomorrow!
The group then quickly moved to the campus ponds for “watermelon water polo,” in which teams of women, and then men, attempted to bring a greased watermelon across the pond and to the opposing team’s goal. “It was intense, especially the boys’ match,” a prefect reports. “We went through about five watermelons!”
This exhausting and hilarious activity was followed by a hearty dinner, then a study period in the library and classrooms. Students once more practiced their Euclidean propositions with the help of the prefects, and they also prepared for today’s last class on Boethius.
After Rosary in the Chapel came the highlight of the evening, “Theology on Float.” Prefects served scores of root-beer floats to hungry students, who sat back and heard Fr. Sebastian answer their anonymously submitted questions. The topics included evolution, Purgatory, and the natural family, and they led to further post-curfew discussions (with s’mores) around the fire pits in the residence-hall courtyards. Fr. Sebastian joined the women’s conversation and Fr. Paul, the men’s, before leading students in their nightly consecration.
Fr. Sebastian answers students’ questions
It was another great day — only two more to go!
Prefects clean up after “Theology on Float”
Although they got in late last night from their cultural excursion to Los Angeles, the 2016 High School Summer Program students awoke bright and early this morning for some last-minute Euclid cramming in anticipation of today’s first class. “They looked confident,” says one prefect. “Having one day’s experience under their belts, they seem to feel good about going into the second day.” With poise and skill, the students approached the chalkboards and demonstrated propositions pertaining to side-side-angle and side-side-side congruency, as well as bisecting angles and lines.
Mass followed the morning class, and then lunch, at which the group celebrated the birthdays of Orion, Gabe (whose birthday, technically, was yesterday), and Evelyn. Another July 27 baby, Antonia, somehow managed to miss the cake and singing at lunchtime, but prefects plan to try again at dinner tonight.
In this afternoon’s class, students resumed their discussion of Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy. The conversation looked at the order of the work and the varying notions of goodness that it discusses. With classes over for the day, the group now enters the afternoon recreation period. Today’s session includes a practice for the end-of-the-program dance, which is, incredibly, just two days away!
Beginning at lunch, and continuing throughout the dance class, the prefects have placed a question box on one of the tables in St. Joseph Commons (see below). At his “Theology on Float” session this evening (so called because the discussion is accompanied by root-beer floats), Fr Sebastian will answer students’ anonymously submitted questions about all matters pertaining to the Faith:
When we left off yesterday, the 2016 High School Summer Program students had just boarded three buses for a trip to Los Angeles. Traffic was heavy, as it often is in L.A., but the ride passed quickly. Students made good use of the time by practicing their Euclidean demonstrations, thanks to some prescient prefects who brought along paper and pencils for the whole group.
The first stop was the J. Paul Getty Museum in the Santa Monica Mountains, with its panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and the vast expanse of metropolitan Los Angeles. Students wandered the grounds, gazing upon world-renowned paintings, illuminated manuscripts, Greek and Roman sculptures, photographs, and other works of art, including some by Monet, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, and Bernini. They delighted to see a portrait of Boethius; to search for the hallmarks of excellent art that Dr. Nieto had identified in his Tuesday talk; and to admire one of the museum’s temporary exhibits, Unruly Nature: The Landscapes of Théodore Rousseau. They also found time to take plenty of pictures around the 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 feasted on some 53 pizzas at the picnic grounds before settling in for the performance. The night’s concert was Mirga Conducts Beethoven and Ravel, billed as a meeting of “exhilarating power and sensuous grace,” conducted by the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s “charismatic associate conductor.” Students enjoyed 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 Wednesday’s classes on Euclid’s Elements and Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy.
Following Monday’s classes and an abbreviated recreation period, students took to the campus coffee shop, where Dr. John Nieto, a member of the College’s teaching faculty, presented his annual talk, “Art and Beauty.” As part of his discussion, Mr. Nieto spoke about many of the works that students would see during their Tuesday-afternoon trip to the Getty Center in Los Angeles. Then came dinner, followed by an Admissions meeting, at which Admissions counselors and Director Jon Daly took questions from students about the College and its application process.
During study hall students met with prefects and fellow members of their sections to prepare for Tuesday morning’s class, at which they would be called upon to demonstrate Euclidean propositions on the chalkboard. “They seem very well prepared,” one prefect observed. “Mostly I was only helping them put a little polish their presentation.”
After study hall and Rosary, the group gathered on the basketball courts for two highly anticipated match-ups of students vs. prefects. The women’s game was a nail-biter, with the prefects scoring the winning basket with only 10 seconds left on the clock. The men’s game was not as close, but was nonetheless hard-fought, with the prefects emerging triumphant.
Back in the residence halls after curfew, students recapped the basketball game and feasted on soft pretzels. Then it was time for consecration and lights out so that all would be fresh and alert for the next morning’s presentations!
Any jitters that the high school students may have had going into this morning’s class — where, for the first time, they would be called upon to demonstrate Euclidean propositions on the blackboard — were for naught. By all indications, the students passed their first test with flying colors.
“Student spirits were high after the mornings demonstrations,” reports head men’s prefect Chris Sebastian (’13). “The conversations about various aspects of the props continued even as the students spilled out of the classrooms, with tutors asking them if there were other ways to prove the enunciations besides the way that Euclid proposed them.”
There is no afternoon class today. Instead, after lunch, the students filed into buses for a trip to Los Angeles, where they will first visit the Getty Center and then attend a concert — “Mirga Conducts Beethoven and Ravel” — at the world-famous Hollywood Bowl. Photos from the excursion will be available here tomorrow morning.
High school students on the bus to Los Angeles
On Monday morning the Summer Program students were back in the classroom, working out Euclid’s definitions, common notions, and postulates in lively discussions. Having come to an understanding of the meaning of such terms as “line” and “point,” they are now ready to take on Euclidean propositions throughout the rest of the week’s morning sessions.
At the afternoon class, after Mass and lunch, students discussed the first two books of Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy. Written in 524 A.D., while Boethius awaited his martyrdom in prison, this work is presented in the form of a dialogue between Boethius and Lady Philosophy, in which they discuss evil, happiness, suffering, fate, God, and free will. In short, it’s the perfect work to tie up the big questions that the students have been pondering for the last week.
At tonight’s study hall, students will get their first chance to try out their new knowledge of geometry when they practice demonstrating Euclidean propositions on classroom chalkboards …
Sunday began with two Masses in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel, the first in the extraordinary form, and the second in the ordinary form, accompanied by the Thomas Aquinas College Choir. Students then quickly ate some breakfast burritos and changed their clothes before gathering in the Commons and boarding three passenger buses for a day of adventure …
First stop: Ventura State Beach, about a 25-minute drive from campus, where students delighted in volleyball, swimming, and bountiful natural beauty. In shifts, groups took breaks for lunch at a nearby In-n-Out Burger, the iconic California burger chain. The highlight of the day, however, came when pods of dolphins delighted the group by swimming, playing, and diving close to the shoreline.
Next, students re-boarded the buses and made their way up the coast to Santa Barbara. There they enjoyed dinner at various spots of their choosing: family-style Italian at Palazzio’s, burgers at The Habit, a local Lebanese restaurant, and others. Prefects then led students down State Street for shopping and ice cream.
At the end of the trip, all met up at Stearns Wharf for a group photo. Students prayed the Rosary in the buses on the way back to campus, where many then gathered for a voluntary study hall in St. Bernardine of Siena Library. “They were excited, but also a little nervous,” reports a prefect, about Monday morning’s class — the first of five devoted to Euclid!
Following Saturday night’s barbeque dinner was Open-Mic Night, a dazzling display of the great talent to be found among this year’s students! Each performance was beautiful, but for comedic value alone, prefects Martin McCann (’16) and Patrick Nazeck (’19) stole the show with their re-enactment of the Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye “Sisters” scene from White Christmas.
Afterward students gathered in front of the Chapel for a Rosary procession to the Lourdes Grotto, which prefects had prepared ahead of time with candles. Upon arriving at the grotto and completing the Rosary, the group fell silent, deep in prayer. The silence only broke several minutes later, when the students headed back toward the upper campus, singing hymns along the way.
In the remaining time before curfew, students returned to St. Joseph Commons for a movie, Cinderella Man.
Check in Monday for photos from Sunday’s trips to the beach and Santa Barbara!
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. Accompanying the summer crew was the College’s head chaplain, Rev. Paul Raftery, O.P., who offered Mass en route — a beautiful way to celebrate both Creation and Creation’s God. The students greatly enjoyed the three-mile canyon hike, climbing over boulders, crossing the creek beds, and finally lunch and a dip in the cool water at the top.
It was a quiet afternoon back on campus afterward, leading up to an amazing barbeque tri-tip barbeque dinner, prepared by master chef Patrick Nazeck (’19) and his fellow prefects!