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Summer Program Blog

Student runs past Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel

Any jitters that the high school students may have had going into this morning’s class — where, for the first time, they would be called upon to demonstrate Euclidean propositions on the blackboard — were for naught. By all indications, the students passed their first test with flying colors!

At the afternoon class, after Mass and lunch, students discussed the first two books of Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy. Written in 524 A.D., while Boethius awaited his martyrdom in prison, this work is presented in the form of a dialogue between Boethius and Lady Philosophy, in which they discuss evil, happiness, suffering, fate, God, and free will. In short, it’s the perfect work to tie up the big questions that the students have been pondering for the last week.

Then, at the start of the afternoon recreation period, came one of the favorite California Summer Program events: the quad run!

  • HSSP19 -- Quad Run
    Slideshow: Quad Run
  • HSSP19 -- Quad Run
    Slideshow: Quad Run
  • HSSP19 -- Quad Run
    Slideshow: Quad Run
  • HSSP19 -- Quad Run
    Slideshow: Quad Run
  • HSSP19 -- Quad Run
    Slideshow: Quad Run
  • HSSP19 -- Quad Run
    Slideshow: Quad Run
  • HSSP19 -- Quad Run
    Slideshow: Quad Run
  • HSSP19 -- Quad Run
    Slideshow: Quad Run
  • HSSP19 -- Quad Run
    Slideshow: Quad Run
  • HSSP19 -- Quad Run
    Slideshow: Quad Run
  • HSSP19 -- Quad Run
    Slideshow: Quad Run
  • HSSP19 -- Quad Run
    Slideshow: Quad Run

A relatively new but already beloved Thomas Aquinas College tradition, the Quad Run was inspired by a classic scene from Chariots of Fire, in which Harold Abrahams successfully completes Cambridge University’s Trinity Great Court Run before the King’s Gate Clock strikes 12. This afternoon, some 20 Summer Program students staged their own quad run. The athletes sprinted, in pairs, a clockwise course around the academic quadrangle, beginning and ending by St. Bernardine of Siena Library.

The Winners!

On the women’s side, the top runner was Molly Z., a Summer Program student from Olympia, Washington, who completed the course in 44.73 seconds. On the men’s side, Austin T. from Phoenix, Arizona, blew away all competitors, finishing with a time of 32.63 seconds. Austin shaved nearly a half second from the previous men’s course record set last year! Both winners’ names will be engraved on the commemorative plaque which hangs in the Admissions office:

plaque              

The quad run is one of many events planned for this afternoon. A softball game is also under way, as well as a hike in the Los Padres National Forest. Finally, students will end the night with “Theology on Float,” wherein students enjoy root-beer floats and Summer Program Chaplain Fr. Sebastian answers questions about the Faith, distributed throughout the day via this box, stationed in Commons.

questions box

Come back Wednesday for updates!


HSSP students in Santa Barbara

As promised yesterday, we now have a full report — and photos! — from Sunday at the California High School Summer Program.

Students began the day by giving thanks to God at one of two Masses in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel. Early risers attended the first Mass, offered in the extraordinary form, while most others came to the second Mass, offered in the ordinary form. Several of the Summer Program students joined the Thomas Aquinas College Choir, delighting their fellow students with beautifully sung hymns from the Chapel’s choir loft. 

  • HSSP19 -- Sunday Mass
    Slideshow: Sunday Mass
  • HSSP19 -- Sunday Mass
    Slideshow: Sunday Mass
  • HSSP19 -- Sunday Mass
    Slideshow: Sunday Mass
  • HSSP19 -- Sunday Mass
    Slideshow: Sunday Mass
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    Slideshow: Sunday Mass
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    Slideshow: Sunday Mass
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    Slideshow: Sunday Mass
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    Slideshow: Sunday Mass
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    Slideshow: Sunday Mass
  • HSSP19 -- Sunday Mass
    Slideshow: Sunday Mass
  • HSSP19 -- Sunday Mass
    Slideshow: Sunday Mass
  • HSSP19 -- Sunday Mass
    Slideshow: Sunday Mass

After changing their clothes, students loaded into three coach buses for a day of adventure. First stop: Carpinteria State Beach, which is about a 45-minute drive from campus. Highlights of the trip included volleyball, swimming, spikeball, and a picnic lunch of turkey-bacon wraps brought from campus.

  • HSSP19 -- Beach
    Slideshow: Beach Trip
  • HSSP19 -- Beach
    Slideshow: Beach Trip
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    Slideshow: Beach Trip
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    Slideshow: Beach Trip
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    Slideshow: Beach Trip
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    Slideshow: Beach Trip
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    Slideshow: Beach Trip
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    Slideshow: Beach Trip
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    Slideshow: Beach Trip
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    Slideshow: Beach Trip
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    Slideshow: Beach Trip
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    Slideshow: Beach Trip
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    Slideshow: Beach Trip
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    Slideshow: Beach Trip
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    Slideshow: Beach Trip
  • HSSP19 -- Beach
    Slideshow: Beach Trip

Next stop: Santa Barbara, where students enjoyed dinner at various spots of their choosing: family-style Italian, burgers, Mexican, seafood, and others. Prefects accompanied small groups down State Street for shopping, ice cream, boba, and frozen yogurt; then all met up at Stearns Wharf for the group photo at the top of the page.

  • HSSP19 -- Santa Barbara
    Slideshow: Santa Barbara
  • HSSP19 -- Santa Barbara
    Slideshow: Santa Barbara
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    Slideshow: Santa Barbara
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    Slideshow: Santa Barbara
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    Slideshow: Santa Barbara
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    Slideshow: Santa Barbara
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    Slideshow: Santa Barbara
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    Slideshow: Santa Barbara
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    Slideshow: Santa Barbara
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    Slideshow: Santa Barbara
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    Slideshow: Santa Barbara
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    Slideshow: Santa Barbara
  • HSSP19 -- Santa Barbara
    Slideshow: Santa Barbara
  • HSSP19 -- Santa Barbara
    Slideshow: Santa Barbara

In the buses on the way back to campus, the group prayed the Rosary while driving down the Pacific Coast Highway, enjoying a spectacular ocean sunset to their right. Upon returning to campus, there was an optional, but well attended, study hall, where students prepared for today’s classes on Euclid and Boethius — details of which will be available this afternoon.


Students walk past St. Joseph Commons

Students may have woken up a little groggy this morning after a hyper-stimulating weekend, but they were nonetheless ready to get back to work. In the morning class they began on Euclid’s definitions, common notions, and postulates in lively discussions. Having consdered the meanings of such terms as “line” and “point,” they are now ready to take on Euclidean propositions throughout the rest of the week’s morning sessions.

At the afternoon class, after Mass and lunch, students discussed the first two books of Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy. Written in 524 A.D., while Boethius awaited his martyrdom in prison, this work is presented in the form of a dialogue between Boethius and Lady Philosophy, in which they discuss evil, happiness, suffering, fate, God, and free will. In short, it’s the perfect work to tie up the big questions that the students have been pondering for the last week.

On another note, we finally have photos available from Saturday night! Sorry for the delay! Below are slideshows from the Stations of the Cross …

  • HSSP19 -- stations
    Slideshow: Stations of the Cross
  • HSSP19 -- stations
    Slideshow: Stations of the Cross
  • HSSP19 -- stations
    Slideshow: Stations of the Cross
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    Slideshow: Stations of the Cross
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    Slideshow: Stations of the Cross
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    Slideshow: Stations of the Cross
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    Slideshow: Stations of the Cross
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    Slideshow: Stations of the Cross
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    Slideshow: Stations of the Cross
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    Slideshow: Stations of the Cross
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    Slideshow: Stations of the Cross
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    Slideshow: Stations of the Cross
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    Slideshow: Stations of the Cross
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    Slideshow: Stations of the Cross
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    Slideshow: Stations of the Cross
  • HSSP19 -- stations
    Slideshow: Stations of the Cross

… and Open-Mic night:

  • HSSP19 -- Open-Mic Night
    Slideshow; Open-Mic Night
  • HSSP19 -- Open-Mic Night
    Slideshow; Open-Mic Night
  • HSSP19 -- Open-Mic Night
    Slideshow; Open-Mic Night
  • HSSP19 -- Open-Mic Night
    Slideshow; Open-Mic Night
  • HSSP19 -- Open-Mic Night
    Slideshow; Open-Mic Night
  • HSSP19 -- Open-Mic Night
    Slideshow; Open-Mic Night
  • HSSP19 -- Open-Mic Night
    Slideshow; Open-Mic Night
  • HSSP19 -- Open-Mic Night
    Slideshow; Open-Mic Night
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    Slideshow; Open-Mic Night
  • HSSP19 -- Open-Mic Night
    Slideshow; Open-Mic Night
  • HSSP19 -- Open-Mic Night
    Slideshow; Open-Mic Night
  • HSSP19 -- Open-Mic Night
    Slideshow; Open-Mic Night
  • HSSP19 -- Open-Mic Night
    Slideshow; Open-Mic Night
  • HSSP19 -- Open-Mic Night
    Slideshow; Open-Mic Night
  • HSSP19 -- Open-Mic Night
    Slideshow; Open-Mic Night
  • HSSP19 -- Open-Mic Night
    Slideshow; Open-Mic Night
  • HSSP19 -- Open-Mic Night
    Slideshow; Open-Mic Night


Student on State Street

It’s Sunday, and the students of the California Summer Program have made the most of their day of rest. The morning began with Mass in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel, where, according to one prefect, “Three rows of Summer Program boys gave up their seats to various mothers and children who didn’t have spots.” This winsome act of chivalry, she adds, was initiated by a certain Jack B. — we hope his proud parents are reading this!

The day continued with a trip to the beach and dinner in historic Santa Barbara. We’ll have photos from all the main events tomorrow, but here are a couple more to tide you over until then:

Student on State Street

Students in ice cream store

PS — We’re sorry that, due to logistical difficulties, we have been unable to deliver the promised photos from Saturday night. We’ll do our best to rectify that situation ASAP!


In addition to the wonderful photos we’ve already posted from Saturday — including the hike, Mass, and volleyball tournament — we now have some spectacular aerial videography as well!

The above footage comes courtesy of Jake Schmiedicke (’09), videographer and editor at Ice Pictures Productions, who is working on some new promotional videos for Thomas Aquinas College. Thanks for the great shots, Jake!


Fr. Sebastian serves

This blog last left off at the close of Friday’s classes, after which came the afternoon recreation period. Once again, Summer Program Chaplain Rev. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem. (’94) — pictured, above, delivering a mean serve — was a formidable presence. He will no doubt have students well-prepared for today’s tournament!

  • HSSP19 -- 1st Friday Recreation
    Slideshow: Friday Afternoon Recreation
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    Slideshow: Friday Afternoon Recreation
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    Slideshow: Friday Afternoon Recreation
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    Slideshow: Friday Afternoon Recreation
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    Slideshow: Friday Afternoon Recreation
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    Slideshow: Friday Afternoon Recreation
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    Slideshow: Friday Afternoon Recreation
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    Slideshow: Friday Afternoon Recreation
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    Slideshow: Friday Afternoon Recreation
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    Slideshow: Friday Afternoon Recreation
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    Slideshow: Friday Afternoon Recreation
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    Slideshow: Friday Afternoon Recreation
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Friday Recreation
    Slideshow: Friday Afternoon Recreation
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Friday Recreation
    Slideshow: Friday Afternoon Recreation

It was an abbreviated recreation period, however, so that students could then go to the Program’s second dance class. Prefect Dan Selmeczy taught some more swing steps and introduced the group to the rhumba. He has little doubt that students will be ready for the end-of-the-program dance … only one week away!

  • HSSP19 -- 2nd Dance Class
    Slideshow: Second Dance Class
  • HSSP19 -- 2nd Dance Class
    Slideshow: Second Dance Class
  • HSSP19 -- 2nd Dance Class
    Slideshow: Second Dance Class
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    Slideshow: Second Dance Class
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    Slideshow: Second Dance Class
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    Slideshow: Second Dance Class
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    Slideshow: Second Dance Class
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    Slideshow: Second Dance Class
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    Slideshow: Second Dance Class
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    Slideshow: Second Dance Class
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    Slideshow: Second Dance Class
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    Slideshow: Second Dance Class
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    Slideshow: Second Dance Class
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    Slideshow: Second Dance Class
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    Slideshow: Second Dance Class
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    Slideshow: Second Dance Class
  • HSSP19 -- 2nd Dance Class
    Slideshow: Second Dance Class
  • HSSP19 -- 2nd Dance Class
    Slideshow: Second Dance Class

After dinner came the much-anticipated “Arts Night,” which featured a dramatic reading of The Importance of Being Earnest as well performances of several scenes from the works of William Shakespeare. The entire group came out to watch the production, which took place in the St. Cecilia auditorium.

  • HSSP19 -- Arts
    Slideshow: Arts Night
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    Slideshow: Arts Night
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    Slideshow: Arts Night
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    Slideshow: Arts Night
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    Slideshow: Arts Night
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    Slideshow: Arts Night
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    Slideshow: Arts Night
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    Slideshow: Arts Night
  • HSSP19 -- Arts
    Slideshow: Arts Night

Next students made a candlelit Rosary procession around the academic quadrangle, ending at the statue of Our Lady in Founders Plaza:

Students with candles standing in front of the Chapel

Then, as the sun set and the sky grew dark, they came to the Guadalupe Fountain for ice-cream sandwiches and songs around a “campfire.” Alas, there was no actual fire this year, due to temporary restrictions owing to the campus’ proximity to the Los Padres National Forest. But there was still the same campfire spirit: Students, prefects, and even Summer Program Director Brian Dragoo played guitars, and the words of various campfire favorites were projected onto a large screen.

  • HSSP19 -- Singalong
    Slideshow: Friday Night Singalong
  • HSSP19 -- Singalong
    Slideshow: Friday Night Singalong
  • HSSP19 -- Singalong
    Slideshow: Friday Night Singalong
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    Slideshow: Friday Night Singalong
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    Slideshow: Friday Night Singalong
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    Slideshow: Friday Night Singalong
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    Slideshow: Friday Night Singalong
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    Slideshow: Friday Night Singalong
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    Slideshow: Friday Night Singalong
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    Slideshow: Friday Night Singalong
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    Slideshow: Friday Night Singalong
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    Slideshow: Friday Night Singalong
  • HSSP19 -- Singalong
    Slideshow: Friday Night Singalong
  • HSSP19 -- Singalong
    Slideshow: Friday Night Singalong
  • HSSP19 -- Singalong
    Slideshow: Friday Night Singalong

Then it was time to return to the residence halls and get a quick night’s rest before rising early for this morning’s hike and Mass. Photos to come later today!


Students sitting on the fountain in Founders Plaza

After recharging from a busy Friday night, students rose Saturday morning, ate breakfast, and then made their way into the foothills surrounding the California campus. When they reached the top, they found High School Summer Program Chaplain Rev. Sebastian Walshe (’94) preparing an altar for a reverent Mass with a majestic view:

  • HSSP19 -- Hike and Mass
    Slideshow: Hike and Mass
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    Slideshow: Hike and Mass
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    Slideshow: Hike and Mass
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    Slideshow: Hike and Mass
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    Slideshow: Hike and Mass
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    Slideshow: Hike and Mass
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    Slideshow: Hike and Mass
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    Slideshow: Hike and Mass
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    Slideshow: Hike and Mass
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    Slideshow: Hike and Mass
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    Slideshow: Hike and Mass
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    Slideshow: Hike and Mass
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    Slideshow: Hike and Mass
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    Slideshow: Hike and Mass
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    Slideshow: Hike and Mass
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    Slideshow: Hike and Mass
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    Slideshow: Hike and Mass
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    Slideshow: Hike and Mass
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    Slideshow: Hike and Mass
  • HSSP19 -- Hike and Mass
    Slideshow: Hike and Mass

“It is very important that we conform ourselves to the natural world, that we immerse ourselves in the natural world,” Fr. Sebastian said in his homily. “We live in a society that has been marked, or characterized, by the triumph of the artificial. You’re on your phones, your Internet, you’re constantly surrounded by artificial, manmade things. But you know the things made by man come from the mind of man, and they are no greater than you are. They just come from a human source, a human mind. And therefore, by immersing yourself in them, you’re never elevated or lifted above yourself. But the things of nature come from the mind of God. And so by investigating and studying and immersing yourself in the things of nature, your mind is ordered by God’s own mind and elevated to the Divine.”

When the students returned to campus, the prefects set up a giant slip-n-slide by the athletic field, which provided a fun way to beat the heat. One of the favorite activities was when a number of the boys made a “bridge” under which their fellow programmers could slide!

Then came the much-anticipated 2019 California High School Summer Program Volleyball Tournament. There were 12 teams of six members, each captained by a prefect or Admissions counselor. The tournament, played on the campus athletic fields, was double-elimination. A few teams flamed out early, while others battled throughout the afternoon, with the squad captained by John Jost (’17), admissions counselor for the New England campus, emerging triumphant.

Even after that grueling tournament, however, Team Jost had enough stamina to hold on for one more game — besting a team of the College’s tutors and chaplains.

Of course, that was only the beginning of the day: Up next is the BBQ dinner, Open Mic Night, and a movie. Come back Sunday for news and photos!


Students in class

A late night in Los Angeles did little to slow down the students at this year’s California High School Summer Program — several of whom made their way, per usual, to the basketball court at 6:00 this morning. “I don’t know, they’re good,” fretted one prefect, looking ahead to next week’s Students vs. Prefects Basketball Game. “We might get stomped.”

  • HSSP19 -- 1st Friday AM
    Slideshow: Friday Morning
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    Slideshow: Friday Morning
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    Slideshow: Friday Morning
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    Slideshow: Friday Morning
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    Slideshow: Friday Morning
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    Slideshow: Friday Morning
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    Slideshow: Friday Morning
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    Slideshow: Friday Morning
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    Slideshow: Friday Morning
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    Slideshow: Friday Morning
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    Slideshow: Friday Morning
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    Slideshow: Friday Morning
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Friday AM
    Slideshow: Friday Morning
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Friday AM
    Slideshow: Friday Morning

After breakfast came the first of the day’s classes, where students began to consider a question with which they would wrestle all day: Can we know by reason that God exists?

The subject of the morning class was Blaise Pascal’s famous “wager” from the Pensées. Pascal argues that, absent definitive proof, man should operate under the assumption that God exists. He puts the matter in betting terms, explaining that, if there is no God, the believer’s belief will cost him very little, but if God does exist, then the believer’s faith will win him eternal life.

That may be so, but is there not a better case to be made for God than “play the odds”?

That brings us to this afternoon’s class, in which students considered two very different, but complementary texts.

The first is Jean Henri Fabre’s detailed account of the workings of bees. Fabre’s descriptions of insect life reflect brilliantly complex operations performed by hopelessly simple-minded creatures. The insects partake in a process far beyond their comprehension, yet essential to their existence, offering the hint of a design and, thus, a Designer. St. Thomas Aquinas makes this argument explicitly in the students’ second reading, from the Summa Theologiae. In one of his “Five Proofs” for the existence of God, St. Thomas contends that “whatever lacks intelligence cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence … Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God.”

As one prefect described it, “With Aquinas, we looked at a reasoned argument for faith, as opposed to Pascal’s probabilistic argument.” And so, drawing upon three of history’s greatest thinkers in a variety of disciplines, the students made a good “first start,” into the question of God’s existence. Not bad for a day’s work— but the day has just begun!

By night’s ends the students will also perform their dramatic reading of The Importance of Being Earnest, pray at the College’s walkable Stations of the Cross, and enjoy a sing-along by the Guadalupe Fountain. Come back to the blog Saturday morning for a full report, complete with photos!


Alberto shoots a photo in the St. Thomas Hall rotunda

One of this year’s High School Summer Program students, Alberto from Fontana, California, has taken some photos of the campus, which he has graciously agreed to share with this blog’s readers. Below is just a small sampling of his beautiful work:

  • HSSP19 -- Photos by Alberto
    Slideshow: Alberto’s photos
  • HSSP19 -- Photos by Alberto
    Slideshow: Alberto’s photos
  • HSSP19 -- Photos by Alberto
    Slideshow: Alberto’s photos
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    Slideshow: Alberto’s photos
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    Slideshow: Alberto’s photos
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    Slideshow: Alberto’s photos
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    Slideshow: Alberto’s photos
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    Slideshow: Alberto’s photos
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    Slideshow: Alberto’s photos
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    Slideshow: Alberto’s photos
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    Slideshow: Alberto’s photos
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    Slideshow: Alberto’s photos
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    Slideshow: Alberto’s photos
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    Slideshow: Alberto’s photos
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    Slideshow: Alberto’s photos
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    Slideshow: Alberto’s photos
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    Slideshow: Alberto’s photos
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    Slideshow: Alberto’s photos
  • HSSP19 -- Photos by Alberto
    Slideshow: Alberto’s photos
  • HSSP19 -- Photos by Alberto
    Slideshow: Alberto’s photos

Thank you, Alberto!

 


Students at Getty

After lunch, students boarded three coach buses for the big city. The first stop was the J. Paul Getty Museum in the Santa Monica Mountains, with its panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and the vast expanse of metropolitan Los Angeles. Students wandered the grounds, gazing upon world-renowned paintings, illuminated manuscripts, Greek and Roman sculptures, photographs, and other works of art, including some by Cézanne, Monet, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, and Bernini. They also found time to take plenty of pictures around the beautiful gardens, fountains, and outdoor patios.

  • HSSP19 -- Getty Center
    Slideshow: The Getty Center
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    Slideshow: The Getty Center
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    Slideshow: The Getty Center
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    Slideshow: The Getty Center
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    Slideshow: The Getty Center
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    Slideshow: The Getty Center
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    Slideshow: The Getty Center
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    Slideshow: The Getty Center
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    Slideshow: The Getty Center
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    Slideshow: The Getty Center
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    Slideshow: The Getty Center
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    Slideshow: The Getty Center
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    Slideshow: The Getty Center
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    Slideshow: The Getty Center
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    Slideshow: The Getty Center
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    Slideshow: The Getty Center
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    Slideshow: The Getty Center
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    Slideshow: The Getty Center
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    Slideshow: The Getty Center
  • HSSP19 -- Getty Center
    Slideshow: The Getty Center

One student even got the curator to sign his program!

Student with signed program

At about 5:00 p.m. the group re-boarded the buses for a trip to the Hollywood Bowl, where students feasted on some 53 pizzas at the picnic grounds before settling in for the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and “Music of Hollywood’s Golden Age.” To celebrate the 10t0th anniversary of the hiring of the Philharmonic’s conductor, Gustavo Dudamel, the concert concluded with a surprise — and fabulous — fireworks display:

fireworks over the Hollywood Bowl

“It was most spectacular fireworks display I’ve very seen it, perfectly synched with the music,” said one prefect. “A lot of people said that was their favorite part of the night.”

fireworks over the Hollywood Bowl

The concert ended fairly late, and students prayed the Rosary on the bus ride home. They made back to campus past midnight — but that didn’t stop the committed basketball players from meeting on the court, yet again, for a 6:00 a.m. game! Today’s will focus on Pascal’s “wager” and Fabre’s observations of order in nature.

Stay tuned for more!