Summer Program Blog
Wednesday night barbeque outside St. Joseph Commons
Wednesday afternoon’s volleyball tournament was, as predicted, exciting and competitive, “or fierce and exhausting,” as prefect Chris Sebastian describes it. Of course, Chris is probably just being gracious, as his team (“Team USA,” as it dubbed itself, co-captained by Cecilia Goyette) bested all others to make it to the championship round against the faculty squad. Alas, despite the encouraging chants of “USA! USA!” from fellow students, who surrounded the court, the team fell to the tutors in two close sets.
After the tournament, the group headed up to St. Joseph Square for a leisurely summer barbeque. From there it was study hall, with some students going to St. Bernadine of Siena Library, and others to St. Gladys Hall. The night’s readings were chapters 11 to 25 of Genesis and excerpts from Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling, specifically the Exordium and the Eulogy of Abraham — all in anticipation of Wednesday’s conversations about the nature of God’s promise to Abraham and the sacrifice of Isaac.
Study hall in St. Gladys Hall
Rosary in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel
When study hall concluded, the students prayed the Rosary in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel and then made their way back to St. Joseph Commons for the first of three planned dance classes. Prefect Dan Selmeczy led the instruction, aided by fellow prefect Aileen McCarthy. Students learned some basic steps for the merengue and swing, which they will put to use at the end-of-the-program dance next Friday.
At the end of the class, some students kept dancing; others retired to the coffee shop; and others met up at the arch in front of St. Gladys Hall for a Comedy of Errors rehearsal. The actors worked on their blocking, as well as their emotion and diction, in a mad rush to prepare for Friday’s much-anticipated performance.
The night ended back in the residence halls with pretzels, fire pits, and visits from the chaplains. Fr. Paul and Fr. Nick visited with the men, and Fr. Sebastian with the women. Then it was time for nightly prayers, lights out, and the end of Day 4 of the 2015 Summer Program.
A visit from Fr. Sebastian
Fire pit in the men’s courtyard
Tuesday began with breakfast and the morning class. Building on Monday’s discussion of piety in Plato’s Euthyphro, students considered issues of duty, law, fate, family, and the state in Sophocles’ Antigone. Then, before lunch, a photographer came by to get a photo of each class section — and one of the entire group — on the steps by the Guadalupe Fountain:
In the afternoons class, students examined the works of the pre-Socratic philosophers, contemplating questions of causality and nature. Afterward came the afternoon recreation period, highlighted by sports — volleyball, Frisbee, soccer, and basketball — hiking and swimming at the campus ponds, and picnic-blanket art projects with watercolors and markers.
At the same time, the Summer Program prefects held auditions for the upcoming student performance of Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors, drawing some 20 thespians to the student lounge. Aspiring actors re-enacted scenes from past performances, including songs and a stirring rendition of Marlon Brando’s “Stella” scene from A Streetcar Named Desire. The directors announced the roles for Comedy of Errors later that evening, after which the cast got together to watch a video of the play.
After dinner students prepared for Wednesday’s classes by reading the first 10 chapters of Genesis at study Hall. They then met in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel for the nightly Rosary:
A brief coffee-shop gathering followed, after which prefects hosted parties in the men’s and women’s residence halls. For the women, it was a peaceful night of ice-breakers, conversation, snacks, music, and dancing in their festively decorated courtyard. The men, meanwhile, found their common area transformed into a gladiatorial arena for a fierce tournament of whiffle-ball dodgeball, with the team captained by Chris Sebastian handily vanquishing those led by Patrick Cross, Andrew Rossi, and Anthony Maza. Afterward, the men gathered in the courtyard for an impromptu yet heartfelt singing of the National Anthem, and David Langley regaled them with a performance of some Scottish tunes and “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipe.
After prayers, it was lights out — and exhaustion! — at 11:30.
At Monday afternoon’s classes, students discussed Plato’s Euthyphro, from which they worked to construct a definition of piety and identify its general qualities. Next came the afternoon recreation period, which included all kinds of sports — volleyball, soccer, ultimate Frisbee, and basketball — despite the thick humidity, a rarity in Southern California. A few women wisely escaped the heat, however, at an art session that prefect Zoe Appleby led in the ladies’ residence hall:
After dinner in St. Joseph Commons, students met for study hall in St. Bernardine of Siena Library, where they prepared for Tuesday’s discussions of the pre-Socratic philosophers and Sophocles’ Antigone. Then it was time for the nightly Rosary in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel, followed by cards, board games, impromptu musical performances, iced mochas, and Italian sodas in the coffee shop, as well as a ping-pong tournament in the game room. After curfew, students returned to the their residence halls for a late-night snack of cheese and crackers, the resumption of the previous night’s foosball rivalries, and great conversations about the day’s classes.
Photos from last night’s banquet and dance!
Starting at the crack of dawn this morning — about 4:45 a.m. — the 2014 Summer Program students began departing campus to make their way back home. Having forged close friendships over the last two weeks, the students had to fight back tears when saying goodbye to one another.
Before they left, the students presented a thank-you card to Admissions Director Jon Daly, whose tireless efforts make the Summer Program possible. Below are just a few of the students’ comments:
“You made this an unforgettable two weeks, and I’m still super stoked that we went 9-3 in the roll call race.”
— Tom G.
“I’d write a big, long speech thanking you for everything you did for us, but it would end up being a thesis!”
“Thank you so much!!! These were the best two weeks of my life.”
— Ryan U.
“I’m more grateful than I can say. Thank you!”
Thanks be to God for a great two weeks! It is sad to see our Summer Program students go. By God’s grace, many of them will return as members of the Thomas Aquinas College Class of 2019!
At their last classes on Friday, the students tackled Proposition 32 from Euclid’s Elements, then contemplated the significance of the title of Flannery O’Connor’s short story “The Enduring Chill.” During recreation time, most either played in or watched the student-prefect soccer game, making the most of their final hours on campus. All are eagerly looking forward to tonight’s banquet and dance.
After classes the prefects gave the students some goodbye presents, mementos of the last two weeks: a Thomas Aquinas College book bag containing a copy of C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters plus framed photos of the entire group and each student’s section. You can see those photos in the slideshow below.
Check this blog on Saturday for dance and goodbye pictures. It’s hard to believe the program is coming to an end!
At Wednesday afternoon’s recreation period, students could be seen playing various sports: A tennis tournament was under way on the campus courts, with the winner to be determined Thursday. Triads of young men formed squads and practiced for Thursday’s 3-on-3 basketball tournament. Volleyball teams clashed on the sand courts. And soccer enthusiasts prepared for Friday’s match pitting the students against the prefects.
The sporting events were followed by a brief dance class in anticipation of Friday’s soiree. Then the College bookstore briefly opened its doors to a rush of student customers looking to pick up some mementos of their nearly finished time on campus. From there it was dinner and study hall, with students once again being excused early to work on their Euclidean propositions. The students remain as smitten with Euclid as ever, boasting of the number of alternative proofs they have been able to devise. One young woman even used her newfound geometrical skills and a necklace to construct a compass in her residence hall!
Following the nightly Rosary in the Chapel, students made their way over to the coffee shop for root-beer floats and a pint of theology, courtesy of Rev. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem. (’94). Having collected questions beforehand, Fr. Sebastian addressed students’ queries on a range of topics that included faith, morality, natural law, and the ways grace builds upon nature. He also allowed for follow-ups, leading to a lively and thoughtful conversation.
At curfew time, the students returned to the residence halls for a wide array of snacks — chips, salsa, guacamole, soft pretzels and, in the women’s hall, a birthday cake for prefect Maggie Conklin (’17) — and nightly consecration. Fr. Sebastian paid visits to both the men and the women, answering more questions about the Faith by the courtyard fire pits.
With that, Wednesday drew to a close as, sadly, the Summer Program will all too soon …
Following Monday’s classes most students spent the afternoon recreation period on the College basketball courts, preparing for that night’s basketball tournament. Then came dinner, followed by an abbreviated study hall. About halfway through the session, students headed off for various classrooms around campus, where prefects taught them how to demonstrate Euclidean propositions in preparation for Tuesday morning’s class.
After study hall and Rosary, the group returned to the basketball courts for two highly anticipated match-ups of students vs. prefects. In both the women’s and the men’s matches, the prefects emerged triumphant, but the games were close and hard-fought, and everyone had a great time.
Back in the residence halls after curfew, students enjoyed the usual prayers and said their nightly consecration.Then it was time to catch some sleep before another big day on Tuesday — Euclid in the morning, the beach in the afternoon, and Santa Barbara at night!
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: