Summer Program Blog
This morning some of the 2014 High School Summer Program prefects who are still on campus gathered to say goodbye to Head Prefect Kathleen Sullivan (’06), who is returning to Washington, D.C., where she is a PhD candidate in literature at the Catholic University of America. Kathleen began working on the Summer Program in 2005, when she was still a student at the College. She has just completed her 10th program as a prefect!
Last year, in a reflection about the Summer Program, she remarked:
“In the great books program, by encountering the original thoughts and minds of the thinkers of the past, these young students are both enabling their minds to think rationally and training their minds to communicate clearly. Freeing themselves from the shackles of ignorance, especially in the faith-filled atmosphere of the College, these young students become more aware of their purpose in life, become more certain in their hope for a life eternal, and become more eager to live a rational, moral, and ethical life — to live the good life.”
Thank you, Kathleen, for your decade of generous and dedicated service — for helping these young men and women to live the good life! May God bless you on your way.
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!
On Thursday afternoon, the penultimate day of the 2014 Summer Program, most of the men, joined by Fr. Sebastian, the prefects, and even some of the College’s student workers, played in a 3-on-3 basketball tournament on the campus courts. Other students took to the volleyball and tennis courts, or spent the time socializing with their many new friends. And a group of some 30 ladies ventured into Santa Paula, where they scoured the shops for clothes to wear to Friday night’s soiree, then paid a visit to a local coffee shop.
That evening, history was made in the final study hall. Every night throughout the Summer Program, Admissions Director Jon Daly and one of the prefects engage in a friendly race to see who can complete roll call more quickly. (To see how the race works, watch the video from last year’s program, below.)
In all the years of the Summer Program, Mr. Daly — an accomplished roll-caller — has never lost twice in row. But it happened for the first time on Thursday evening, when Prefect Christopher Sebastian (’13) bested him for the second consecutive night. The student is now the master …
After study hall and Rosary, all gathered in St. Joseph Commons. The prefects conducted a brief review of the dance steps that students have been learning, followed by some spirited Bollywood line dancing. “I don’t want this to end,” one student lamented, echoing the sentiments of many.
However, “the best part of the night,” as one observer put it, came after curfew. The women, who had filled their common room for a poetry recital, were surprised by a strange sound coming from outside. When they listened more carefully, they discovered it was … singing. They rushed to the doorway to see, standing just beyond the patio, the Summer Program men, led by Prefect Andrew Rossi (’13) — all dressed in their Sunday best, bearing roses and chocolates. The ladies, Head Prefect Kathleen Sullivan (’06) reports, “absolutely melted.”
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 …
In class Tuesday morning, students got a chance to show off their talents for demonstrating Euclidean propositions. They were surprised, they reported, at how complex they now regarded questions that they once considered simple, such as, what is a point? The class was over at 10:30 a.m., but Euclid remained on their minds all day.
Indeed, when they headed up the Pacific Coast after lunch for a day trip to Rincon Beach, several students playfully demonstrated props in the sand! Of course, they also enjoyed more conventional beach activities, such as snorkeling (and seeing baby leopard sharks), sunbathing, swimming, building sandcastles, boogie-boarding, and playing Frisbee and volleyball.
At the end of the afternoon, the men and the women piled into separate buses, changed their clothes, and made the short trip farther up the coast to Santa Barbara. There they split into several groups and enjoyed dinner at a number of the city’s restaurants. While waiting for their food, several students couldn’t resist demonstrating yet more props on their paper tablecloths!
Three students, who are also talented jugglers, wowed passersby on Santa Barbara’s historic State Street:
After dinner some students bought ice cream; others did some shopping, and all returned to the buses at 9:00 p.m. They prayed the Rosary on the ride back to the College, arriving just before curfew. The students then retired for the evening … with visions of propositions dancing in their heads.
The love for all things Euclid continued at this morning’s first class, where students crossed the ancient mathematician’s famed “Bridge of Fools,” also known as the fifth proposition in Book 1 of the Elements. The prop demonstrates that, if two sides of an isosceles triangle are equal, then the angles opposite those sides will also be equal. In ancient Greece, this theorem is said to have served as a test of a student’s intelligence: Those who mastered it were allowed to cross the metaphorical “bridge” and study more complex mathematics, while those who did not were left behind. Having passed the test, the Summer Program students now look forward to more Euclid in the — gulp! — just two remaining days of classes.
In today’s afternoon session, students turned to theology, discussing St. Athanasius’s On the Incarnation. They will delve more deeply into this work tomorrow, and then end the program on Friday with Flannery O’Connor’s The Enduring Chill.
Meanwhile, theology is on tap for tonight, when Summer Program Chaplain Fr. Sebastian presents a Q&A on the Faith in the coffee shop, complete with root-beer floats.
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.