Summer Program Blog
On Wednesday, after two days of literature and philosophy, the students finally dove into the Queen of the Sciences, sacred theology. They began their Scripture studies “In the beginning,” with the Book of Genesis. Reading all the way up through the birth of Isaac, they had plenty to contemplate in both the morning and afternoon classes as they considered Creation, man’s fall, Original Sin, and God’s covenant with Abraham.
Following afternoon recreation the students were treated to a talk by tutor Dr. John Nieto on the subject of art and beauty, in preparation for the following day’s trip to the Getty Museum. After explaining St. Thomas Aquinas’ definition of beauty, Dr. Nieto discussed the three aspects of beauty: integrity or wholeness, proportionality, and clarity.
Later in the evening, following the rosary, the students gathered in the Commons for a ballroom-dance practice, learning the steps to rumba, waltz, and basic swing. It was amazing to see how quickly they learned the steps, and it was delightful to witness their enthusiasm. Back in the dorms at curfew, the usual conversations began, with the students and prefects discussing the implications of beauty in music, stemming from Dr. Nieto’s talk.
Tuesday morning the students explored thought-provoking questions about Antigone, such as “What happens when religious duty is opposed to civil law?” and “How should our faith and filial obligations inform our responsibilities as citizens?” Then after lunch they tackled some of the pre-Socratic philosophers, who wondered about the principles of nature. Many students were surprised to find that ancient philosophers were talking about atoms over 20 centuries before the atomic theory was formally developed.
The rest of the day was free for the usual sports games on the athletic field, relaxing at the ponds, and continuing great conversations — returning to some of the lingering questions and debates from class. It is not unusual to see students who began a conversation in the classroom still sitting in the Commons or the residence halls discussing literature or philosophy a few hours later. This is what TACers live for: contemplating the highest things among friends!
Study hall was followed by a well-attended rosary in the Chapel, the quiet and evening twilight complementing the prayerful atmosphere. At about 9:30 p.m., students headed back to their residence halls for the much anticipated parties where they gathered to enjoy food, games, entertainment and fellowship with each other … experiencing residential life much as it is during the year.
On Monday the Summer Program students, tutors, and prefects gathered for the opening Mass at 8 a.m., which was offered by chaplains Rev. Cornelius Buckley, S.J, and Rev. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem (’94).
After breakfast in St. Joseph Commons, the students made their way to their first class, where each section met with its two professors (called “tutors”). The sections consist of 17-18 students, who address each other by their surnames along with the title “Mr.” or “Miss,” complementing the formality of the Socratic discussion method. For the next two weeks the students will learn to work as a team in trying to understand some of the most compelling texts in Western civilization.
The 90-minute class was a lively discussion and careful analysis of Sophocles’ tragedy Oedipus Rex. Questions included: Should we pity Oedipus’ tragic situation? Or is he wholly culpable for his actions? In the afternoon the students returned to their classrooms to tackle another work from Ancient Greece: Plato’s philosophical dialogue Crito. In this discussion the students examined the issue of how to proceed if there is an unjust application of the city’s laws.Read more
Below is a slideshow featuring photos from yesterday’s barbeque and this morning’s breakfast:
And here is a schedule of what the students will be doing today:
|8:00 a.m.||Opening Mass|
|10:00 a.m.||Oedipus Rex|
|11:30 a.m.||Student ID photos|
|2:30 p.m.||Recreation — meet on Athletic Field|
|6:00 p.m.||Study – Meet in St. Bernardine Library|
|8:20 p.m.||Coffee Shop Open|
Today 121 rising high school seniors arrived at Thomas Aquinas College for two weeks of lively discussion about the works of some of the most influential authors of Western civilization.
While most Californians drove to campus, some 60 students from other states, Argentina, Italy, Germany, and Canada, were greeted at Los Angeles International Airport by the Summer Program prefect team, which consists of current students and alumni.
Upon arriving at the College, the students settled into their residence halls — St. Monica Hall for the ladies, and Sts. Peter & Paul Hall for the gentlemen — and met their roommates for the next two weeks.
Following a campus tour and BBQ dinner, where they met with the tutors who will be leading their classes, the students visited over ice cream. Later in the evening, after a traveler’s Mass in the Chapel, orientation began in the College library, continuing on in the residence halls.
It’s a thoughtful, excellent, and lively group of students, and we look forward to working with them!
To keep up to date with this year’s High School Summer Program over these next two weeks, follow this, the program’s blog, for around-the-clock updates and photo galleries.
Quite a number of fine men and women, including:
- 100+ students from around the country and abroad.
- Dr. Michael Letteney, Summer Program Director, and a graduate of Thomas Aquinas College. After earning his PhD at the University of Notre Dame, Dr. Letteney taught at Xavier University before returning to accept a position as a tutor at Thomas Aquinas College in 1998. Dr. Letteney will direct the other faculty members teaching on the program.
- The members of the Admissions Office: Jon Daly, Admissions Director; Scott Benigar, Admissions Counselor; Louis Conklin, Admissions Counselor
- 18 summer program staff members — called “prefects” — including 15 current students and 3 graduates of the College, all of whom will be taking time off from graduate studies or their summer vacations for the two lively weeks of conversation, fellowship and camaraderie the program is set to inspire!
Fr. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem., a 1994 graduate of Thomas Aquinas College will return this year to join the College’s Head Chaplain, Fr. Cornelius Buckley, S.J. in working on the Summer Program. Both will offer daily Mass and lead the spiritual life at the College. Fr. Sebastian, better than 6’1” and with excellent skills on the basketball court, also made a fine addition to last year’s prefect basketball team … which ended up just winning a hard-fought contest with the students. He hopes for a matchup this year again!