Skip to Content
Summer Program Blog

Summer Program Blog

During Wednesday afternoon’s recreation period, students played sports …

Students play basketball

… visited with prefects …

Prefect meets with student

… and rehearsed for Friday’s Shakespeare Revue:

Shakespeare rehearsal

But by 3:45, most arrived in St. Cecilia Hall …

Students in St. Cecilia Hall

… for tutor Dr. John Nieto’s annual Summer Program lecture, “On Art and Beauty.”

Dr. John Nieto

Delivering his talk for the first time in the newly completed St. Cecilia Hall, Dr. Nieto supplemented his remarks with a PowerPoint slideshow depicting many famous sculptures and paintings, several of which are at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, which the group will visit this afternoon. The talk was such a hit that the question-and-answer session ran well into dinner. 

Then came the nightly Study Hall, where students did their Kierkegaard reading in preparation for Thursday morning’s class …

Study Hall roll call Roll call

… followed by the nightly Rosary in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel:

Students pray the Rosary

Following the Rosary, Fr. Sebastian gave a talk about the joy that Christ experiences at our repentance, especially through the Sacrament of Penance. Immediately afterward, he exposed the Blessed Sacrament for a “Holy Half-Hour,” during which he and three other chaplains heard confessions. “The students were really moved,” one prefect reports. “Even after the half hour was over, there were lines four, five students deep at each confessional!”

Adoration

Finally came the night’s most-anticipated event, the first dance class, led by prefect Dan Selmeczy.“The students started out pretty nervous,” one prefect observed, “but seemed to relax as the class went on.”

  • HSSP18 -- First Dance Class
    Slideshow: First dance class
  • HSSP18 -- First Dance Class
    Slideshow: First dance class
  • HSSP18 -- First Dance Class
    Slideshow: First dance class
  • HSSP18 -- First Dance Class
    Slideshow: First dance class
  • HSSP18 -- First Dance Class
    Slideshow: First dance class
  • HSSP18 -- First Dance Class
    Slideshow: First dance class
  • HSSP18 -- First Dance Class
    Slideshow: First dance class
  • HSSP18 -- First Dance Class
    Slideshow: First dance class
  • HSSP18 -- First Dance Class
    Slideshow: First dance class
  • HSSP18 -- First Dance Class
    Slideshow: First dance class
  • HSSP18 -- First Dance Class
    Slideshow: First dance class
  • HSSP18 -- First Dance Class
    Slideshow: First dance class
  • HSSP18 -- First Dance Class
    Slideshow: First dance class
  • HSSP18 -- First Dance Class
    Slideshow: First dance class
  • HSSP18 -- First Dance Class
    Slideshow: First dance class
  • HSSP18 -- First Dance Class
    Slideshow: First dance class
  • HSSP18 -- First Dance Class
    Slideshow: First dance class
  • HSSP18 -- First Dance Class
    Slideshow: First dance class
  • HSSP18 -- First Dance Class
    Slideshow: First dance class
  • HSSP18 -- First Dance Class
    Slideshow: First dance class

Back in the residence halls, there was pita and hummus, then cosecration and lights out. Thursday promises to be a big day, with Kierkegaard at the morning class, then a trip to the Getty Center and a Mozart & Tchaikovsky concert at the Hollywood Bowl!


Tuesday afternoon’s recreation session was much like Monday’s, with a few additions: A small group of students painted with watercolors in the nearby “Painter’s Shack,” others took a swim in the campus ponds, and about two dozen more auditioned for the upcoming Shakespeare Revue. “You could tell they had a lot of experience with acting and had very nuanced and emphatic deliveries,” says prefect Joe Daly. “They did quite well.” The Revue, which will take place Friday night, will include a number of scenes and soliloquies, largely but not exclusively Shakespearean, performed entirely by Summer Program students.

  • HSSP18 -- Auditions
    Slideshow: Shakespeare Auditions
  • HSSP18 -- Auditions
    Slideshow: Shakespeare Auditions
  • HSSP18 -- Auditions
    Slideshow: Shakespeare Auditions
  • HSSP18 -- Auditions
    Slideshow: Shakespeare Auditions
  • HSSP18 -- Auditions
    Slideshow: Shakespeare Auditions
  • HSSP18 -- Auditions
    Slideshow: Shakespeare Auditions
  • HSSP18 -- Auditions
    Slideshow: Shakespeare Auditions
  • HSSP18 -- Auditions
    Slideshow: Shakespeare Auditions
  • HSSP18 -- Auditions
    Slideshow: Shakespeare Auditions
  • HSSP18 -- Auditions
    Slideshow: Shakespeare Auditions
  • HSSP18 -- Auditions
    Slideshow: Shakespeare Auditions
  • HSSP18 -- Auditions
    Slideshow: Shakespeare Auditions
  • HSSP18 -- Auditions
    Slideshow: Shakespeare Auditions
  • HSSP18 -- Auditions
    Slideshow: Shakespeare Auditions
  • HSSP18 -- Auditions
    Slideshow: Shakespeare Auditions
  • HSSP18 -- Auditions
    Slideshow: Shakespeare Auditions

A dinner of pulled-pork sandwiches followed the recreation period, after which came study hall. Students brought their Bibles and were busy reading the first 25 chapters of Genesis in preparation for today’s classes. Afterward, they went to the Chapel for the nightly Rosary, and then to St. Cecilia Hall for Coffee Shop. There, the College’s head chaplain, Rev. Paul Raftery, O.P., fielded questions that students had about Abraham from their Genesis readings.

  • HSSP18 -- 1st Tuesday Evening
    Slideshow: Rosary, Coffee Shop, and women’s dorm party
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Tuesday Evening
    Slideshow: Rosary, Coffee Shop, and women’s dorm party
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Tuesday Evening
    Slideshow: Rosary, Coffee Shop, and women’s dorm party
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Tuesday Evening
    Slideshow: Rosary, Coffee Shop, and women’s dorm party
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Tuesday Evening
    Slideshow: Rosary, Coffee Shop, and women’s dorm party
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Tuesday Evening
    Slideshow: Rosary, Coffee Shop, and women’s dorm party
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Tuesday Evening
    Slideshow: Rosary, Coffee Shop, and women’s dorm party
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Tuesday Evening
    Slideshow: Rosary, Coffee Shop, and women’s dorm party
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Tuesday Evening
    Slideshow: Rosary, Coffee Shop, and women’s dorm party
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Tuesday Evening
    Slideshow: Rosary, Coffee Shop, and women’s dorm party
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Tuesday Evening
    Slideshow: Rosary, Coffee Shop, and women’s dorm party
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Tuesday Evening
    Slideshow: Rosary, Coffee Shop, and women’s dorm party
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Tuesday Evening
    Slideshow: Rosary, Coffee Shop, and women’s dorm party
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Tuesday Evening
    Slideshow: Rosary, Coffee Shop, and women’s dorm party
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Tuesday Evening
    Slideshow: Rosary, Coffee Shop, and women’s dorm party

Coffees shop ended early, however, so that students could return to their residence halls for dorm parties. In Saints Peter and Paul Hall, the men began their fete with a fierce whiffle-ball dodgeball match, after which they recovered around the fire pit, with guitars and singing, plus chips, guacamole, and ice cream. In St. Monica Hall, the women played a few rounds of ice-breakers, then also enjoyed chips and ice cream, accompanied by good conversation. “We had a lot of questions about the curriculum, applications, and the life of the College,” reports prefect Andrea Florez.

Then came the nightly consecration and lights out. On schedule for Wednesday: Genesis, Dr. Nieto’s annual talk about art and beauty, and the first dance class!


July 18,
2018

Students with Dr. Steven Cain

Conversations from Tuesday carried over into breakfast this morning, as students discussed moral issues in the Book of Genesis as well as how the Summer Program has (thus far) shaped their college discernment. At today’s first class, they considered the first 10 chapters of Genesis, particularly the two accounts of creation.

That conversation, in turn, carried over into lunch, where students could be heard debating such questions as, “What is significant about the order and hierarchy of the creation accounts?” “Why on day six does God call His creation ‘very good’?” One student admitted that he had been uneasy about participating in the Discussion Method, but he is now warming up to it, and he enjoys taking an active part in his learning.

After lunch came the day’s second class — and more Genesis. This time students considered Abraham and Isaac, focusing on such questions as, “What is meant by the various blessings given to Abram?” “What does it mean to bless God?” “Was Abraham good, so God chose him to be father of faith, or was he good because God chose him?” “Can you have faith and still question God or be anxious?” Discussions also made reference to Plato’s treatment of filial piety in the Euthyphro, giving the students a sense of how the College’s curriculum is fully integrated. They will get an even greater appreciation of that integration tomorrow, when they discuss Kierkegaard’s various presentations of the Sacrifice of Isaac in Fear and Trembling.

With classes over for the day, the recreation period is now under way. In addition to the usual sports and leisure, there will also be Dr. John Nieto’s highly anticipated talk on art and beauty, plus the first rehearsal for Friday’s Shakespeare Revue. Come back tomorrow for photos!

Students talk after the afternoon class


Students pray the Rosary in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel Students pray the Rosary in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel

We have an avalanche of photos from Monday afternoon and evening to share!

Let’s begin with the time immediately after lunch, when students gathered outside the library to pose for their ID photos:

  • Students get their ID photos and submit t-shirt sizes (High School Summer Program 2018)
    Slideshow: IDs and Photos on the Quad
  • Students get their ID photos and submit t-shirt sizes (High School Summer Program 2018)
    Slideshow: IDs and Photos on the Quad
  • Students get their ID photos and submit t-shirt sizes (High School Summer Program 2018)
    Slideshow: IDs and Photos on the Quad
  • Students get their ID photos and submit t-shirt sizes (High School Summer Program 2018)
    Slideshow: IDs and Photos on the Quad
  • Students get their ID photos and submit t-shirt sizes (High School Summer Program 2018)
    Slideshow: IDs and Photos on the Quad
  • Students get their ID photos and submit t-shirt sizes (High School Summer Program 2018)
    Slideshow: IDs and Photos on the Quad
  • Students get their ID photos and submit t-shirt sizes (High School Summer Program 2018)
    Slideshow: IDs and Photos on the Quad
  • Students get their ID photos and submit t-shirt sizes (High School Summer Program 2018)
    Slideshow: IDs and Photos on the Quad
  • Students get their ID photos and submit t-shirt sizes (High School Summer Program 2018)
    Slideshow: IDs and Photos on the Quad
  • Students get their ID photos and submit t-shirt sizes (High School Summer Program 2018)
    Slideshow: IDs and Photos on the Quad
  • Students get their ID photos and submit t-shirt sizes (High School Summer Program 2018)
    Slideshow: IDs and Photos on the Quad
  • Students get their ID photos and submit t-shirt sizes (High School Summer Program 2018)
    Slideshow: IDs and Photos on the Quad

We then move on, after the day’s second class, to the afternoon recreation period, which included most every sport imaginable — basketball, volleyball, soccer, tennis and Spikeball!

  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Afternoon Sports
    Slideshow: Monday afternoon recreation
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Afternoon Sports
    Slideshow: Monday afternoon recreation
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Afternoon Sports
    Slideshow: Monday afternoon recreation
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Afternoon Sports
    Slideshow: Monday afternoon recreation
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Afternoon Sports
    Slideshow: Monday afternoon recreation
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Afternoon Sports
    Slideshow: Monday afternoon recreation
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Afternoon Sports
    Slideshow: Monday afternoon recreation
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Afternoon Sports
    Slideshow: Monday afternoon recreation
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Afternoon Sports
    Slideshow: Monday afternoon recreation
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Afternoon Sports
    Slideshow: Monday afternoon recreation
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Afternoon Sports
    Slideshow: Monday afternoon recreation
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Afternoon Sports
    Slideshow: Monday afternoon recreation
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Afternoon Sports
    Slideshow: Monday afternoon recreation
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Afternoon Sports
    Slideshow: Monday afternoon recreation
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Afternoon Sports
    Slideshow: Monday afternoon recreation
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Afternoon Sports
    Slideshow: Monday afternoon recreation
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Afternoon Sports
    Slideshow: Monday afternoon recreation
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Afternoon Sports
    Slideshow: Monday afternoon recreation
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Afternoon Sports
    Slideshow: Monday afternoon recreation
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Afternoon Sports
    Slideshow: Monday afternoon recreation

After recreation the group had dinner, at which it sang “Happy Birthday” to fellow student Paloma, who kindly shared her cake with all at her table. The students then came to St. Bernardine of Siena Library for their first study hall of the program. There they read up on Sophocles’ Antigone and three pre-Socratic philosophers (Empedocles, Democritus, and Epicurus) in preparation for today’s classes. Some even got a head start on Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy for Wednesday. “They were very studious!” one prefect reports.

  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Study Hall
    Slideshow: First study hall
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Study Hall
    Slideshow: First study hall
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Study Hall
    Slideshow: First study hall
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Study Hall
    Slideshow: First study hall
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Study Hall
    Slideshow: First study hall
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Study Hall
    Slideshow: First study hall
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Study Hall
    Slideshow: First study hall
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Study Hall
    Slideshow: First study hall
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Study Hall
    Slideshow: First study hall
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Study Hall
    Slideshow: First study hall
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Study Hall
    Slideshow: First study hall
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Study Hall
    Slideshow: First study hall

From there it was time for the nightly Rosary in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel (see photo, above) followed by a busy coffee shop in St. Cecilia Hall. Students played foosball, pool, ping-pong, and cards, while enjoying Italian sodas prepared by the prefects.

  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Night
    Slideshow: First night
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Night
    Slideshow: First night
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Night
    Slideshow: First night
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Night
    Slideshow: First night
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Night
    Slideshow: First night
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Night
    Slideshow: First night
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Night
    Slideshow: First night
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Night
    Slideshow: First night
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Night
    Slideshow: First night
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Night
    Slideshow: First night
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Night
    Slideshow: First night
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Night
    Slideshow: First night
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Night
    Slideshow: First night
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Night
    Slideshow: First night
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Night
    Slideshow: First night
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Night
    Slideshow: First night
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Night
    Slideshow: First night
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Night
    Slideshow: First night
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Night
    Slideshow: First night
  • HSSP18 -- 1st Monday -- Night
    Slideshow: First night

After more socializing in the residence halls, everyone called it a night. Stay tuned for a report on today’s classes in the next post!


Group photo of the students on the 2018 High School Summer Program

At this morning’s class, the students of the 2018 High School Great Books Program discussed Sophocles’ Antigone, considering the perennial conflict between individual conscience and obedience to civil laws. Then, before heading to lunch, they came to the Guadalupe Fountain to pose for a group photo as well as photos of their class sections:

  • HSSP18 -- Sections
    Slideshow: Section photos
  • HSSP18 -- Sections
    Slideshow: Section photos
  • HSSP18 -- Sections
    Slideshow: Section photos
  • HSSP18 -- Sections
    Slideshow: Section photos
  • HSSP18 -- Sections
    Slideshow: Section photos
  • HSSP18 -- Sections
    Slideshow: Section photos
  • HSSP18 -- Sections
    Slideshow: Section photos
  • HSSP18 -- Sections
    Slideshow: Section photos
  • HSSP18 -- Sections
    Slideshow: Section photos

After lunch the students moved on to their second class, a discussion of the pre-Socratic philosophers, particularly how Empedocles, Democritus, and Epicurus understood the origins of the natural world. Their conversation should make for some intriguing comparisons with the subject of tomorrow’s class, the Book of Genesis.

But first students have this afternoon’s recreation session — plus dinner, study hall, Rosary, and coffee shop — to look forward to, followed by tonight’s dorm parties!


Students playing volleyball

As of this writing, the first day of classes is now complete, and the High School Summer Program students are making use of their first recreation period by playing various sports on the campus athletic fields.

At this morning’s classes, students discussed Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, and the conversation carried over into lunch. As students munched on their grilled chicken and French fries, they pondered such questions as whether we should pity Oedipus, and whether virtue ought to be a precondition of receiving pity. Then, in the afternoon class, they moved from pity to piety — specifically, what constitutes piety within the context of Plato’s Euthyphro.

With classes under way, the students seem to have begun settling in to the life of the College. “When they arrived, you could tell that a lot of them seemed to be amazed just by the beauty of the  campus,” says Head Women’s Prefect Kathleen Sullivan (’06). “There was much excitement. Friendships started forming right away.” And those friendships are already deepening, as students together learn from the great books — and compete on the athletic fields!

Come back to the Summer Blog tomorrow for more photos!

 

 


July 16,
2018

Students after the barbeque

This blog last left off after Sunday night’s Travelers’ Mass, which was followed by an orientation meeting in St. Cecilia Hall. The day’s hectic pace at last seemed to slow down, as prefects and students introduced themselves to one another, amid much laughter. After the meeting, the men and women retired to their respective residence halls for yet another meeting — this one on the finer points of dorm living — and then chaplains came by (Fr. Paul in the women’s residence hall and Fr. Sebastian in the men’s) for the nightly consecration. The night concluded with ice cream and socializing in anticipation of a big day on Monday.

  • HSSP18 -- First Monday Morning
    Slideshow: Monday Morning
  • HSSP18 -- First Monday Morning
    Slideshow: Monday Morning
  • HSSP18 -- First Monday Morning
    Slideshow: Monday Morning
  • HSSP18 -- First Monday Morning
    Slideshow: Monday Morning
  • HSSP18 -- First Monday Morning
    Slideshow: Monday Morning
  • HSSP18 -- First Monday Morning
    Slideshow: Monday Morning
  • HSSP18 -- First Monday Morning
    Slideshow: Monday Morning
  • HSSP18 -- First Monday Morning
    Slideshow: Monday Morning
  • HSSP18 -- First Monday Morning
    Slideshow: Monday Morning
  • HSSP18 -- First Monday Morning
    Slideshow: Monday Morning
  • HSSP18 -- First Monday Morning
    Slideshow: Monday Morning
  • HSSP18 -- First Monday Morning
    Slideshow: Monday Morning

Monday began with breakfast in St. Joseph Commons, after which students made their way over to St. Cecilia Hall for the Academic Orientation. Summer Program Director Brian Dragoo discussed what students could expect in their classes — including the dress code and addressing each other formally — and how to best prepare for class (approach the text with no expectations and a willingness to learn). He also gave students a foretaste of some of the profound questions they would consider over the next two weeks, including questions of justice, conscience, and responsibility for our actions. Then it was time for morning Mass  and the day’s first class — Plato’s Euthyphro!


July 15,
2018

The 2018 Summer Great Books Program for High School Students is under way!

  • Students arrive for the 2018 High School Summer Program
    Slideshow: Students arrive on campus
  • Students arrive for the 2018 High School Summer Program
    Slideshow: Students arrive on campus
  • Students arrive for the 2018 High School Summer Program
    Slideshow: Students arrive on campus
  • Students arrive for the 2018 High School Summer Program
    Slideshow: Students arrive on campus
  • Students arrive for the 2018 High School Summer Program
    Slideshow: Students arrive on campus
  • Students arrive for the 2018 High School Summer Program
    Slideshow: Students arrive on campus
  • Students arrive for the 2018 High School Summer Program
    Slideshow: Students arrive on campus
  • Students arrive for the 2018 High School Summer Program
    Slideshow: Students arrive on campus
  • Students arrive for the 2018 High School Summer Program
    Slideshow: Students arrive on campus
  • Students arrive for the 2018 High School Summer Program
    Slideshow: Students arrive on campus
  • Students arrive for the 2018 High School Summer Program
    Slideshow: Students arrive on campus
  • Students arrive for the 2018 High School Summer Program
    Slideshow: Students arrive on campus
  • Students arrive for the 2018 High School Summer Program
    Slideshow: Students arrive on campus
  • Students arrive for the 2018 High School Summer Program
    Slideshow: Students arrive on campus
  • Students arrive for the 2018 High School Summer Program
    Slideshow: Students arrive on campus
  • Students arrive for the 2018 High School Summer Program
    Slideshow: Students arrive on campus
  • Students arrive for the 2018 High School Summer Program
    Slideshow: Students arrive on campus
  • Students arrive for the 2018 High School Summer Program
    Slideshow: Students arrive on campus
  • Students arrive for the 2018 High School Summer Program
    Slideshow: Students arrive on campus

Students began arriving at Los Angeles International Airport this morning — the earliest came in from New Zealand at 6:30! —  where they were met by the Summer Program prefects, who took them on one of several buses back to campus. Over the course of the afternoon, more buses arrived, as did cars carrying students who live closer to the College. Upon settling in their residence halls, the students began visiting, playing sports, and touring the grounds.

Let the adventure begin!


July 15,
2018

After students arrived and settled in on Monday afternoon, parents attended an orientation meeting and campus tour, followed by the family barbeque …

  • Summer Program Opening Barbeque 2018
    Slideshow: Opening BBQ
  • Summer Program Opening Barbeque 2018
    Slideshow: Opening BBQ
  • Summer Program Opening Barbeque 2018
    Slideshow: Opening BBQ
  • Summer Program Opening Barbeque 2018
    Slideshow: Opening BBQ
  • Summer Program Opening Barbeque 2018
    Slideshow: Opening BBQ
  • Summer Program Opening Barbeque 2018
    Slideshow: Opening BBQ
  • Summer Program Opening Barbeque 2018
    Slideshow: Opening BBQ
  • Summer Program Opening Barbeque 2018
    Slideshow: Opening BBQ
  • Summer Program Opening Barbeque 2018
    Slideshow: Opening BBQ
  • Summer Program Opening Barbeque 2018
    Slideshow: Opening BBQ
  • Summer Program Opening Barbeque 2018
    Slideshow: Opening BBQ
  • Summer Program Opening Barbeque 2018
    Slideshow: Opening BBQ
  • Summer Program Opening Barbeque 2018
    Slideshow: Opening BBQ
  • Summer Program Opening Barbeque 2018
    Slideshow: Opening BBQ
  • Summer Program Opening Barbeque 2018
    Slideshow: Opening BBQ
  • Summer Program Opening Barbeque 2018
    Slideshow: Opening BBQ
  • Summer Program Opening Barbeque 2018
    Slideshow: Opening BBQ
  • Summer Program Opening Barbeque 2018
    Slideshow: Opening BBQ
  • Summer Program Opening Barbeque 2018
    Slideshow: Opening BBQ
  • Summer Program Opening Barbeque 2018
    Slideshow: Opening BBQ

… and then a travelers’ Mass in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel:

Mass in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel

Check the Summer Blog tomorrow for more photos!


Now that readers have had a chance to meet the tutors and prefects for the 2018 High School Summer Program (see parts one, two, and three), Thomas Aquinas College would like to introduce the program’s counselors. These are the regular members of the Admissions Office who, for 50 weeks of the year, focus on putting together the College’s next freshman class, but for two weeks each summer pour out their hearts and souls into creating a program that showcases the goodness, joy, and fun of the Thomas Aquinas College experience. In the upcoming weeks, we may also introduce you to some of the behind-the-scenes folks who help to make the program possible.

Jon Daly (’99) Jon Daly (’99)Jon Daly (’99)

First on the list is Jon Daly, who grew up in South Dakota but has been in Southern California more or less since he came to the College as a freshman in 1995. He graduated in 1999 and began working in the Admissions Office in 2000, becoming its director in 2004. Mr. Daly has been part of every Summer Program since 2000. “It’s been a joy to see it grow from about 40 students to 140 students over the years!” he says.

Mr. Daly and his wife, Marie (Sale ’00), live in Santa Paula with their five sons and two daughters. The family occasionally makes it up to campus for barbeques and other Summer Program events, so students will likely get a chance to meet some of the crew before the two weeks are up.

“Meeting the Summer Program students has always been the high point of the year for me,” says Mr. Daly. “What I most appreciate, though, is seeing the students come together as one from so many different places and backgrounds, with their varied interests, and become a true community. I also deeply appreciate working with the prefects — some of them are students here themselves, others are graduates from around the country. Seeing how they give themselves into this program so intensely and fully for love of the students is inspiring and edifying.”

Scott Benigar Scott BenigarScott Benigar

Part of the magic of the Summer Program is the logistics: buses shuttling students to destinations throughout Southern California; mountains of food materializing, as though out of thin air, whenever they are needed; the endless stream of intellectually, spiritually, and physically rewarding activities. Much of the credit for this marvel belongs to Scott Benigar, who — with lots of help from the Admissions counselors, prefects, and numerous others — works diligently behind the scenes to make it all look easy.

Returning for his eighth program, Mr. Benigar is an Orange County native who now lives in Santa Paula with his wife, Mary (Conklin ’01), and their four boys. He is a regular presence on the basketball courts, both as a player and as a referee, and a known card shark. (Look for him at lunch, playing games with others on the program.) His friends in the Admissions Office often call him a “rock star” for his ability to help prospective students learn about the College’s program of Catholic liberal education.

“A big part of my role in the Summer Program is to try to ensure that our activities, dorm life, BBQs, and trips to the Hollywood Bowl, Getty Museum, and Santa Barbara, are well planned and run smoothly,” he says. Some of his favorite events include the “Theology on Float” question-and-answer session over root-beer floats with Rev. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem. (’94), the students vs. prefects basketball game, and Mr. Daly’s world-famous roll calls. “Most of all, though, I enjoy meeting students from all over the country and the world,” he says, “and watching them build relationships with one another.”

Sadly this will be Mr. Benigar’s last year on the program. After seven years as an Admissions counselor, he is moving on to become the College’s director of student services. He is pleased to be taking on the new position, but heavy-hearted about leaving the program behind!

Patrick Cross (’14) Patrick Cross (’14)Patrick Cross (’14)

A native of Western Massachusetts, Patrick Cross came to Southern California for Thomas Aquinas College. Last fall he returned to Western Massachusetts … for Thomas Aquinas College.

Back in 2010 Mr. Cross entered the College as a freshman. When he graduated in 2014, he joined the Admissions crew as a counselor. And shortly after the conclusion of last year’s Summer Program, he headed back to the Bay State to become the Admissions Office’s point man at the New England property on which the College hopes to establish an East Coast campus — contingent upon the approval of the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education — in the fall of 2019. He looks forward to talking with students at this year’s program about what the College’s aspirations are for the region and answering any questions they may have.

In his spare time — “pretty much all I do with my free time,” he says — Mr. Cross draws political cartoons. His work, which has appeared in the National Catholic Register, is regularly published on various political and Catholic websites.

This year marks Mr. Cross’ fifth working on the Summer Program. “I love the fact that the program gives students a chance to experience the intellectual traditions of the West, if only for two weeks,” he says. “Many students have never experienced that before. Some might not have a chance to experience it again. They are immersed in a genuine Catholic culture on campus. It’s really wonderful to see students experience the beauty of that culture.”

Sarah Dufresne (’14) Sarah Dufresne (’14)“Sarah Dufresne (’14)

“During the Summer Program, the students have a real encounter with the true, the good and the beautiful,” says Sarah Dufresne. “It is a joy to witness how this encounter transforms them into young people with hope and zeal for their futures.”

Miss Dufresne began working on the Summer Program while she was still a student at the College, and has continued ever since. For the first three years after her graduation in 2014 she worked in student life at the College, after which transitioned into a job as an Admissions counselor. “It is a great blessing to work for a college whose mission is that of an intellectual apostolate,” she says. “Our founders believed that a renewal of Catholic liberal education was necessary, and we carry on this mission in our intellectual life here. The formation of the mind and heart is so essential for our Church and our culture, and here we strive to do this joyfully, with the hope that our graduates will be part of the renewal and strengthening of our Church.”

As an Admissions counselor, she considers it her privilege to help pass along the blessings of a Catholic liberal education. “I have the opportunity to invite young people into our community,” she explains. “As a student here myself I began to understand the meaning of true freedom as I was given the opportunity to learn the timeless truths that, when understood under the light of faith, truly set us free. What a gift! I want others to have this incredible gift as well.”

Matthew Plaisted (’18) Matthew Plaisted (’18)Matthew Plaisted (’18)

Matthew Plaisted (’18) attended the Summer Program as a student in 2013 and worked as a prefect in 2015 and 2016. This year the recent graduate returns as the newest member of the College’s Admissions staff.

“I am excited to be back on the program as an Admissions counselor and in a position to be of even more assistance to the students in their discernment process,” he says. “I am especially excited for the Santa Barbara trip! It is always one of the most memorable days!”

It was his experience as a student on the program that convinced him to apply to, and then later enroll as a freshman, at Thomas Aquinas College. But one of his fondest memories of the program came as a prefect. “A group of guys woke up early in the morning, well before breakfast,” he recalls. “We went on a hike to watch the sunrise from a spot around the campus. We discussed the program, classes, and manhood.”

The High School Summer Program, he finds, is full of such profound moments. “I encourage all of the students, whether they are interested in attending the College or not, to immerse themselves in the program,” he says. “Read the assignments and avail yourself of the sacraments. This program can truly be a life-changing experience for the good … if you let it be!”

If you need to find him during recreation time, try the game room. “I have been honing my ping-pong skills this summer,” he says, “should anyone want to challenge me!”