Summer Program Blog
Wednesday dawned bright and early at the College, with the few clouds and last bits of fog burning off the hills during breakfast time. From 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. the students joined together for a discussion of the first 10 chapters of Genesis, which recount the story of Creation and the Fall. Mass was offered in the College chapel at 11:30, followed by lunch in St. Joseph Commons.
After lunch the students headed down to the athletic field for a volleyball tournament (there were no afternoon classes), which culminated in a game between the winning student teams (led by prefects Christina Kinney and Dan Selmeczy) and the tutor team. The students won that hard-fought match, and celebrated heartily.
After enjoying a chicken and tri-tip barbeque for dinner, the students were off to the library to study. They met up again later in the evening for a dance practice, led by the incredibly talented Mr. Selmeczy. After a few halting first steps, most everyone was settled in, moving well, and very much enjoying Dan’s engaging lesson in swing dancing, which lasted until 10:30 p.m. After a snack of homemade pretzels and mustard, everyone settled in for a well-deserved night’s rest.
In their second day of classes, the students really started to get into the swing of things! The morning session, on Sophocles’ Antigone, dealt with the protagonist’s prudence, or lack thereof, and delved into what it means to be a tragic character. After a well-attended 11:30 a.m. Mass and lunch, students went back into the classroom to discuss some of the pre-Socratic philosophers and their revolutionary, yet strange, ideas of how the world is constructed.
Afternoon recreation period consisted of more volleyball, soccer, and ultimate Frisbee. The group then headed down to cool off in the ponds, taking turns on the new rope swing.
Having worn themselves out all day, the students were eager to take advantage of the evening’s study period to recoup and to get a head start on the next couple days’ readings. Afterward they got together in the coffee shop, joined by the Summer Program’s prefects, where some of the group’s musicians brought out their guitars, took requests, and led the room in a rousing sing-a-long. Others played various card games, ranging from “Spoons” to “Bluff.” At curfew everyone headed back to the residence halls, where the conversations continued — the beginnings of friendships that will last a lifetime.
After sleeping off the excitement of Sunday’s activities, many of the students began their first day of classes with an opening Mass in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel, concelebrated by the summer program’s chaplains: Rev. Cornelius Buckley, S.J., and Rev. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem. After brunch, the students were introduced to the Discussion Method with their first class on Oedipus Rex, discussing questions such as “Can a man control his own fate?” and, “Was Oedipus guilty for his actions?”
Later in the afternoon, students tackled ideas concerning the justice of Socrates’ condemnation, and the issue of his subjugating his private will to the state’s will in Plato’s Crito. After recreation — consisting of some soccer, volleyball, tennis, and touch football — the students had time for dinner and conversation before study hall in St. Bernardine of Sienna Library. Rosary followed, a beautiful time of prayer and reflection which many of the students attended.
The enthusiasm of the students from the first day’s events spilled over into their residence-hall parties. The girls in St. Monica’s bonded through games and dismantling a piñata, while the guys in Sts. Peter and Paul demonstrated manly strength in arm-wrestling chess. It is encouraging to see the excitement of the students in this summer program!
On Sunday, 128 rising high school seniors — the largest group ever — flocked to Thomas Aquinas College for two weeks of lively discussion about some of the most influential authors of Western civilization. While some attendees drove to campus, about 60 others came by way of Los Angeles International Airport. There they were greeted by the Summer Program prefect team, which is composed of some of the College’s current students and recent graduates. This year’s summer students hail from as far away as France, Spain, and the United Arab Emirates.
Upon arriving on campus, 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.
After touring the grounds, they shared a BBQ dinner with their fellow students and with the members of the faculty with whom they will be studying for the next two weeks. Later in the evening Summer Program Chaplain Rev. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem (’94), offered a travelers’ Mass in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel. An orientation session followed, after which the students headed to the residence halls before going to bed.
Already the group is proving to be thoughtful and lively. Our time together will undoubtedly be exciting and grace-filled!