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Summer Program Blog

Jon Daly spikes a volleyball

That man you see delivering  the massive spike in the above photo is none other than Admissions Director Jon Daly, who mixed it up with students on the volleyball court Wednesday afternoon (in slacks, shirt & tie, and dress shoes!). Sports, as usual, was a big part of the day’s recreation period, while others opted for a swim in the campus ponds. The period was abbreviated, though, to make space for some other worthwhile events, including Dr. John Nieto’s annual “Art and Beauty” talk and auditions for Friday night’s dramatic reading of The Importance of Being Earnest.

After a dinner of chicken tenders, mashed potatoes, and assorted vegetables, students attended study hall in the library, where they read Søren Kierkegaard’s four variations of the Sacrifice of Isaac for this morning’s class. “You know, even if I don’t end up coming to college here,” one student reflected, “speaking in class has helped me to become a lot more confident. I can approach people. I can already see that just being here for the Summer Program will help me out in my senior year.”

For the first time, students led the nightly recitation of the Rosary in Our Lady of the Most Holy Chapel, after which Fr. Sebastian offered a mediation on the Prodigal Son. He and two of the College’s chaplains then heard confessions while students prayed before the Blessed Sacrament in a “Holy Half Hour” of Eucharistic Adoration.

Adoration

Then came the night’s main event: the first dance class. In all candor, the students were, at first, not at all excited about the prospect. As one prefect summarized the prevalent attitude: “Is this mandatory? Kill me now.” But once prefects Dan Selmeczy and Helen Blain began teaching the swing and some other dance steps, the students’ attitudes quickly changed. “Everyone had so much fun,” one prefect reports. “Most of the students stayed long after the class, skipping Coffee Shop and dancing all the way up until curfew!”

  • HSSP19 -- First Dance Class
    Slideshow: Dance Class
  • HSSP19 -- First Dance Class
    Slideshow: Dance Class
  • HSSP19 -- First Dance Class
    Slideshow: Dance Class
  • HSSP19 -- First Dance Class
    Slideshow: Dance Class
  • HSSP19 -- First Dance Class
    Slideshow: Dance Class
  • HSSP19 -- First Dance Class
    Slideshow: Dance Class
  • HSSP19 -- First Dance Class
    Slideshow: Dance Class
  • HSSP19 -- First Dance Class
    Slideshow: Dance Class
  • HSSP19 -- First Dance Class
    Slideshow: Dance Class
  • HSSP19 -- First Dance Class
    Slideshow: Dance Class
  • HSSP19 -- First Dance Class
    Slideshow: Dance Class
  • HSSP19 -- First Dance Class
    Slideshow: Dance Class
  • HSSP19 -- First Dance Class
    Slideshow: Dance Class
  • HSSP19 -- First Dance Class
    Slideshow: Dance Class
  • HSSP19 -- First Dance Class
    Slideshow: Dance Class
  • HSSP19 -- First Dance Class
    Slideshow: Dance Class
  • HSSP19 -- First Dance Class
    Slideshow: Dance Class
  • HSSP19 -- First Dance Class
    Slideshow: Dance Class
  • HSSP19 -- First Dance Class
    Slideshow: Dance Class
  • HSSP19 -- First Dance Class
    Slideshow: Dance Class

Back in the residence halls, students feasted on freshly baked pretzels and otherwise enjoyed a quiet evening:

Boys in their common room

Although in the girls’ hall, there was even an impromptu “hootenanny,” as one student dubbed it, of spontaneous song.

Then it was time for consecration and lights out in preparation for a busy day Thursday — including the much-anticipated trip to the Getty Center and the Hollywood Bowl!


three buses

Thursday has been a whirlwind for the students on the 2019 High School Summer Program — and it’s only just begun! In anticipation of today’s excitement, the group had a (relatively) quiet evening last night (no dodgeball or dance party), and even slept in (relatively) late this morning (no 6:00 a.m. basketball game).

After breakfast students explored the nature of faith in their first class, where they discussed Christian existentialist Søren Kierkegaard’s  Fear and Trembling. The work offers several scenarios of the story of Abraham in an attempt to determine whether or not his faith seems rational. Conversations were spirited, and the students were intrigued by the question of what faith is and what it entails, especially as modeled by our father in faith. Among the questions considered were, “Where does reason end and faith begin?”

Then came Mass, followed by lunch, after which the group boarded the three coach buses pictured above for Los Angeles. As of this writing, they are taking in the art and panoramic views at the Getty Center. From there they will find their way to the city’s famed Hollywood Bowl for a concert which will feature both something old and something (relatively) new: Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and music of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

Tomorrow morning’s blog post will include news and photos from the trip, but here’s a sneak preview:

Students pose before the L.A. skyline


Student reading in a chair in the library

Two days in, the students of the California Summer Program seems to be settling into a routine. They are becoming more familiar with the schedule, each other, and life on a college campus.

They are also becoming more comfortable with the Discussion Method, having taken to heart yesterday’s advice to step out in courage and speak more in class — and that’s helping them to gain a better understanding of the material. “When the students were heading into Tuesday afternoon’s class on the pre-Socratics, I asked them, ‘On a scale of 1-10, how well do you think you understand the material?’ The average answer was 3.5,” says one prefect. “I asked them again on the way out, and the average was more like 7 — that’s pretty good for one class!”

After class it was time for the afternoon recreation period, with one small group taking a hike up to the Painter’s Shack and then a dip in the campus ponds. Most, however, found their way to the athletic fields. According to a prefect scouting report: “Natalia is very, very good at Ultimate Frisbee and volleyball, too.”

  • HSSP19 -- 1st Tuesday -- Recreation
    Slideshow: Tuesday Recreation
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Tuesday -- Recreation
    Slideshow: Tuesday Recreation
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Tuesday -- Recreation
    Slideshow: Tuesday Recreation
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Tuesday -- Recreation
    Slideshow: Tuesday Recreation
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Tuesday -- Recreation
    Slideshow: Tuesday Recreation
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Tuesday -- Recreation
    Slideshow: Tuesday Recreation
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Tuesday -- Recreation
    Slideshow: Tuesday Recreation
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Tuesday -- Recreation
    Slideshow: Tuesday Recreation
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Tuesday -- Recreation
    Slideshow: Tuesday Recreation
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Tuesday -- Recreation
    Slideshow: Tuesday Recreation
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Tuesday -- Recreation
    Slideshow: Tuesday Recreation
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Tuesday -- Recreation
    Slideshow: Tuesday Recreation
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Tuesday -- Recreation
    Slideshow: Tuesday Recreation
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Tuesday -- Recreation
    Slideshow: Tuesday Recreation
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Tuesday -- Recreation
    Slideshow: Tuesday Recreation
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Tuesday -- Recreation
    Slideshow: Tuesday Recreation
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Tuesday -- Recreation
    Slideshow: Tuesday Recreation
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Tuesday -- Recreation
    Slideshow: Tuesday Recreation
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Tuesday -- Recreation
    Slideshow: Tuesday Recreation

Then came dinner in St. Joseph Commons (pork loin, potatoes, green beans, and blueberry cobbler) and study hall, where students read Genesis in preparation for this morning’s class. They then made their way to the Chapel for the nightly Rosary, followed by Coffee Shop, where the prefects served Italian sodas, and students played a variety of games:

  • HSSP19 -- 1st Tuesday -- Coffee Shop
    Slideshow: Tuesday Coffee Shop
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Tuesday -- Coffee Shop
    Slideshow: Tuesday Coffee Shop
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Tuesday -- Coffee Shop
    Slideshow: Tuesday Coffee Shop
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Tuesday -- Coffee Shop
    Slideshow: Tuesday Coffee Shop
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Tuesday -- Coffee Shop
    Slideshow: Tuesday Coffee Shop
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Tuesday -- Coffee Shop
    Slideshow: Tuesday Coffee Shop
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Tuesday -- Coffee Shop
    Slideshow: Tuesday Coffee Shop
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Tuesday -- Coffee Shop
    Slideshow: Tuesday Coffee Shop
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Tuesday -- Coffee Shop
    Slideshow: Tuesday Coffee Shop
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Tuesday -- Coffee Shop
    Slideshow: Tuesday Coffee Shop
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Tuesday -- Coffee Shop
    Slideshow: Tuesday Coffee Shop
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Tuesday -- Coffee Shop
    Slideshow: Tuesday Coffee Shop
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Tuesday -- Coffee Shop
    Slideshow: Tuesday Coffee Shop
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Tuesday -- Coffee Shop
    Slideshow: Tuesday Coffee Shop

The night concluded with parties in the residence halls. For the boys, there was tug-of-war and whiffle-ball dodgeball, then grilled hot dogs in the courtyard. The whiffle balls stung a little upon impact, said one prefect, and that was a good thing. “Just as when the Trojans suffered together, that created a sense of camaraderie, our boys unified through their shared battle,” he observed. “I could see it in their eyes as they were eating their hot dogs — and in the lively conversation. They bonded over that hardship!”

For the girls, there were fun icebreakers followed by dancing in the common room. Students Amanda and Rocio taught a new dance which was quickly dubbed “The Cuban Shuffle,” and Molly Zepeda led a 90s-era performance of the Macarena.

  • HSSP19 -- 1st Tuesday -- Womens Dorm Party
    Slideshow: Girls' Dorm Party
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Tuesday -- Womens Dorm Party
    Slideshow: Girls' Dorm Party
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Tuesday -- Womens Dorm Party
    Slideshow: Girls' Dorm Party
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Tuesday -- Womens Dorm Party
    Slideshow: Girls' Dorm Party
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Tuesday -- Womens Dorm Party
    Slideshow: Girls' Dorm Party
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Tuesday -- Womens Dorm Party
    Slideshow: Girls' Dorm Party
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Tuesday -- Womens Dorm Party
    Slideshow: Girls' Dorm Party
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Tuesday -- Womens Dorm Party
    Slideshow: Girls' Dorm Party

It was then time for Consecration and lights out. And, for the second day in a row, a group of hearty students arose early for basketball at 6:00 a.m.!


Chapel with students in foreground

Well prepared from their diligent reading at study hall last night, the California High School Program students dove into Genesis at this morning’s class. They compared the two different Creation narratives, contemplated the perennial battle between good and evil, and asked how Adam and Eve’s free will could coexist with God’s foreknowledge of the Fall. “We came up with hundreds of profound questions to consider,” one student lamented, “but before we knew it, the 90 minute were up!”

Next up was Mass in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel and lunch (burger bar!) in St. Joseph Commons. Prefects also brought slices of cake — and led the whole group in a rousing singing of “Happy Birthday” — for three students celebrating their birthdays today. Pictures of the celebration and other sights around campus are available in the slideshow below:

  • HSSP19 -- 1st Wednesday Morning
    Slideshow: Wednesday Morning
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Wednesday Morning
    Slideshow: Wednesday Morning
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Wednesday Morning
    Slideshow: Wednesday Morning
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Wednesday Morning
    Slideshow: Wednesday Morning
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Wednesday Morning
    Slideshow: Wednesday Morning
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Wednesday Morning
    Slideshow: Wednesday Morning
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Wednesday Morning
    Slideshow: Wednesday Morning
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Wednesday Morning
    Slideshow: Wednesday Morning
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Wednesday Morning
    Slideshow: Wednesday Morning
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Wednesday Morning
    Slideshow: Wednesday Morning
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Wednesday Morning
    Slideshow: Wednesday Morning
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Wednesday Morning
    Slideshow: Wednesday Morning
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Wednesday Morning
    Slideshow: Wednesday Morning
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Wednesday Morning
    Slideshow: Wednesday Morning
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Wednesday Morning
    Slideshow: Wednesday Morning
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Wednesday Morning
    Slideshow: Wednesday Morning
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Wednesday Morning
    Slideshow: Wednesday Morning
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Wednesday Morning
    Slideshow: Wednesday Morning
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Wednesday Morning
    Slideshow: Wednesday Morning
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Wednesday Morning
    Slideshow: Wednesday Morning

As lunch got out, Head Men’s Prefect Andrew Rossi announced tomorrow’s trip to the Getty Museum and Hollywood Bowl, encouraging students to do their next day’s reading during the bus ride to Los Angeles. His parting words, “Bring your Boethius!”


Student studying on a bench

After a busy Monday afternoon and evening, students woke up refreshed and ready to go on Tuesday morning. Some  even got out of bed early, rising for a 6:00 a.m., early-bird basketball game organized by prefect Kayla Grimm. Then, at breakfast, there were two principle conversation topics: Antigone and dancing. (The first dance class will take place tomorrow evening.)

  • HSSP19 -- 1 Tuesday Morning
    Slideshow: Tuesday
  • HSSP19 -- 1 Tuesday Morning
    Slideshow: Tuesday
  • HSSP19 -- 1 Tuesday Morning
    Slideshow: Tuesday
  • HSSP19 -- 1 Tuesday Morning
    Slideshow: Tuesday
  • HSSP19 -- 1 Tuesday Morning
    Slideshow: Tuesday
  • HSSP19 -- 1 Tuesday Morning
    Slideshow: Tuesday
  • HSSP19 -- 1 Tuesday Morning
    Slideshow: Tuesday
  • HSSP19 -- 1 Tuesday Morning
    Slideshow: Tuesday
  • HSSP19 -- 1 Tuesday Morning
    Slideshow: Tuesday
  • HSSP19 -- 1 Tuesday Morning
    Slideshow: Tuesday
  • HSSP19 -- 1 Tuesday Morning
    Slideshow: Tuesday

The Antigone conversation (but alas, not the dancing one) continued at that morning’s class, where the discussion focused on such questions as “Was Antigone senseless?” “Does Creon have morals? “Is Creon a bad man?” That latter question endured through lunchtime, where one prefect asked students to rank the morality of the Theban king on a scale of 1-7, “with Hitler at 1, and Mother Teresa at 7.” The average ranking, he reported, was about a 3, mostly due to Creon’s awful pride.

When asked what they considered the most challenging part of the program, several students named participating in classroom conversations and working up the courage to offer an insight before the moment had passed. To which the prefect encouraged them to turn this perceived weakness into a strength. “If you are afraid to speak, go ahead and speak,” he counseled. “It will transform you into a better class participant.”

We will see how that advice pans out in this afternoon’s class, where students will consider the pre-Socratic philosophers. Then it will be time for afternoon recreation, study hall, Rosary, coffee shop — and late-night dorm parties! Check in tomorrow for an update and photos.


July 16,
2019

students playing basketball

Last we posted, students had just wrapped up their second class of the 2019 California High School Program, an examination of  Plato’s Euthyphro. One student reported that he loved his first taste of the Discussion Method: “Our class did a really good job of tackling Socrates’ argument for piety,” he said. “We got confused at one point, but we were able to  come back and make sense of things.”

From there it was the first afternoon recreation period of the program, highlighted by Section Wars — a series of relay races and other contests waged between the various sections, or classroom groupings, of students. The activities included racing while carrying an egg on a spoon in one’s mouth, sprinting in an old set of soaked clothes, and fun with water balloons! Afterward, the games continued with volleyball, ultimate Frisbee, soccer, and basketball on the athletic fields.

  • HSSP19 -- 1st Monday -- Rec Period
    Slideshow: First Recreation Period
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Monday -- Rec Period
    Slideshow: First Recreation Period
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Monday -- Rec Period
    Slideshow: First Recreation Period
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Monday -- Rec Period
    Slideshow: First Recreation Period
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Monday -- Rec Period
    Slideshow: First Recreation Period
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Monday -- Rec Period
    Slideshow: First Recreation Period
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Monday -- Rec Period
    Slideshow: First Recreation Period
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Monday -- Rec Period
    Slideshow: First Recreation Period
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Monday -- Rec Period
    Slideshow: First Recreation Period
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Monday -- Rec Period
    Slideshow: First Recreation Period
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Monday -- Rec Period
    Slideshow: First Recreation Period
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Monday -- Rec Period
    Slideshow: First Recreation Period
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Monday -- Rec Period
    Slideshow: First Recreation Period
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Monday -- Rec Period
    Slideshow: First Recreation Period
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Monday -- Rec Period
    Slideshow: First Recreation Period
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Monday -- Rec Period
    Slideshow: First Recreation Period
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Monday -- Rec Period
    Slideshow: First Recreation Period
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Monday -- Rec Period
    Slideshow: First Recreation Period
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Monday -- Rec Period
    Slideshow: First Recreation Period

Pleasantly exhausted, the group then made its way to dinner and refueled with hearty helpings of ribs, macaroni, sweet potatoes, and corn on the cob. “That was just what we needed after running around for hours and hours!” remarked one prefect. At the first study hall of the program, the students were “very studious and quiet,” one prefect happily reported. “The only time I had to quiet a student down it was because he was speaking too loudly about the pre-Socratics!” (subject of this afternoon’s class).

  • HSSP19 -- 1st Monday -- Study Hall
    Slideshow: First Study Hall
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Monday -- Study Hall
    Slideshow: First Study Hall
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Monday -- Study Hall
    Slideshow: First Study Hall
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Monday -- Study Hall
    Slideshow: First Study Hall
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Monday -- Study Hall
    Slideshow: First Study Hall
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Monday -- Study Hall
    Slideshow: First Study Hall
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Monday -- Study Hall
    Slideshow: First Study Hall
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Monday -- Study Hall
    Slideshow: First Study Hall

Then it was time for the nightly Rosary in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel, led by prefects, followed by prefect-prepared milkshakes in the Coffee Shop. In between sips, students engaged in vigorous games of air hockey, pool, cards, ping-pong, and Newspaper. The night concluded with cheese and crackers back in the residence halls, followed by consecration and lights out.

  • HSSP19 -- 1st Monday -- Coffee Shop
    Slideshow: First Coffee Shop
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Monday -- Coffee Shop
    Slideshow: First Coffee Shop
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Monday -- Coffee Shop
    Slideshow: First Coffee Shop
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Monday -- Coffee Shop
    Slideshow: First Coffee Shop
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Monday -- Coffee Shop
    Slideshow: First Coffee Shop
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Monday -- Coffee Shop
    Slideshow: First Coffee Shop
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Monday -- Coffee Shop
    Slideshow: First Coffee Shop
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Monday -- Coffee Shop
    Slideshow: First Coffee Shop
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Monday -- Coffee Shop
    Slideshow: First Coffee Shop
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Monday -- Coffee Shop
    Slideshow: First Coffee Shop
  • HSSP19 -- 1st Monday -- Coffee Shop
    Slideshow: First Coffee Shop

Come back this afternoon for the next update!


July 15,
2019

Blackboard reads: Welcome to TAC, with schedule for the first day

The 2019 California Summer Great Books Program for High School Students is under way!

Students began arriving at Los Angeles International Airport Sunday morning — some traveling from as far as the U.K. and Argentina — 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.

  • HSSP19 Arrival
    Slideshow: Arrival!
  • HSSP19 Arrival
    Slideshow: Arrival!
  • HSSP19 Arrival
    Slideshow: Arrival!
  • HSSP19 Arrival
    Slideshow: Arrival!
  • HSSP19 Arrival
    Slideshow: Arrival!
  • HSSP19 Arrival
    Slideshow: Arrival!
  • HSSP19 Arrival
    Slideshow: Arrival!
  • HSSP19 Arrival
    Slideshow: Arrival!
  • HSSP19 Arrival
    Slideshow: Arrival!
  • HSSP19 Arrival
    Slideshow: Arrival!
  • HSSP19 Arrival
    Slideshow: Arrival!
  • HSSP19 Arrival
    Slideshow: Arrival!
  • HSSP19 Arrival
    Slideshow: Arrival!
  • HSSP19 Arrival
    Slideshow: Arrival!

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

  • HSSP19 BBQ
    Slideshow: Welcome BBQ
  • HSSP19 BBQ
    Slideshow: Welcome BBQ
  • HSSP19 BBQ
    Slideshow: Welcome BBQ
  • HSSP19 BBQ
    Slideshow: Welcome BBQ
  • HSSP19 BBQ
    Slideshow: Welcome BBQ
  • HSSP19 BBQ
    Slideshow: Welcome BBQ
  • HSSP19 BBQ
    Slideshow: Welcome BBQ
  • HSSP19 BBQ
    Slideshow: Welcome BBQ
  • HSSP19 BBQ
    Slideshow: Welcome BBQ
  • HSSP19 BBQ
    Slideshow: Welcome BBQ

Then, in the evening, there was an orientation in St. Cecilia’s Hall, followed by consecration and ice-cream socials back in the residence halls:

  • HSSP19 1st Night
    Slideshow: First Night
  • HSSP19 1st Night
    Slideshow: First Night
  • HSSP19 1st Night
    Slideshow: First Night
  • HSSP19 1st Night
    Slideshow: First Night
  • HSSP19 1st Night
    Slideshow: First Night
  • HSSP19 1st Night
    Slideshow: First Night
  • HSSP19 1st Night
    Slideshow: First Night
  • HSSP19 1st Night
    Slideshow: First Night
  • HSSP19 1st Night
    Slideshow: First Night

Check thomasaquinas.edu/summerblog, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter, to get updates throughough the day all program long!


July 15,
2019

Students eat breakfast

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.

This morning, students began with an academic orientation in St. Cecilia Hall, where they met their tutors for the first time, followed by Mass in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel. There, Program Chaplain Rev. Sebastian Walshe, O.Pream., spoke about Pope Benedict XVI’s oft-quoted challenge, “The world offers you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness!” Using the Pope Emeritus’ words as a springboard, Fr. Sebastian urged the students to aspire for greatness, both academic and spiritual, over these next two weeks:

  • HSSP19 Orientation and Mass
  • HSSP19 Orientation and Mass
  • HSSP19 Orientation and Mass
  • HSSP19 Orientation and Mass
  • HSSP19 Orientation and Mass
  • HSSP19 Orientation and Mass
  • HSSP19 Orientation and Mass
  • HSSP19 Orientation and Mass
  • HSSP19 Orientation and Mass
  • HSSP19 Orientation and Mass
  • HSSP19 Orientation and Mass
  • HSSP19 Orientation and Mass
  • HSSP19 Orientation and Mass
  • HSSP19 Orientation and Mass

Then came the first class of the program, during which students discussed Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex. Among the questions considered were “Did Oedipus deserve his fate?” “Should we morally condemn him for his actions?” “Ought we to pity Oedipus?” Students met outside the library to get sized for their Summer Program t-shirts and photograhed for their IDs:

  • HSSP19 First Monday Shirts and Photos
    Slideshow: Shirt-sizing and ID photos
  • HSSP19 First Monday Shirts and Photos
    Slideshow: Shirt-sizing and ID photos
  • HSSP19 First Monday Shirts and Photos
    Slideshow: Shirt-sizing and ID photos
  • HSSP19 First Monday Shirts and Photos
    Slideshow: Shirt-sizing and ID photos
  • HSSP19 First Monday Shirts and Photos
    Slideshow: Shirt-sizing and ID photos
  • HSSP19 First Monday Shirts and Photos
    Slideshow: Shirt-sizing and ID photos
  • HSSP19 First Monday Shirts and Photos
    Slideshow: Shirt-sizing and ID photos
  • HSSP19 First Monday Shirts and Photos
    Slideshow: Shirt-sizing and ID photos
  • HSSP19 First Monday Shirts and Photos
    Slideshow: Shirt-sizing and ID photos
  • HSSP19 First Monday Shirts and Photos
    Slideshow: Shirt-sizing and ID photos

At a lunch of steak gyros and Greek salad, resumed their classroom discussions of Oedipus before making thier way back to the next class … 

  • HSSP19 First Monday After Class
    Slideshow: After the Morning Class
  • HSSP19 First Monday After Class
    Slideshow: After the Morning Class
  • HSSP19 First Monday After Class
    Slideshow: After the Morning Class
  • HSSP19 First Monday After Class
    Slideshow: After the Morning Class
  • HSSP19 First Monday After Class
    Slideshow: After the Morning Class
  • HSSP19 First Monday After Class
    Slideshow: After the Morning Class
  • HSSP19 First Monday After Class
    Slideshow: After the Morning Class
  • HSSP19 First Monday After Class
    Slideshow: After the Morning Class
  • HSSP19 First Monday After Class
    Slideshow: After the Morning Class
  • HSSP19 First Monday After Class
    Slideshow: After the Morning Class

Come back to the Summer Blog tomorrow for updates about the day’s second class — on Plato’s Euthyphro — as well as photos from the first recreation period and Monday night’s activities!


The 2019 California Summer Program prefects

Below is the final installment in our three-part series introducing the prefects for this year’s High School Summer Program. (See Part 1 and Part 2.)

Seamus O’Brien (’20) Seamus O’Brien (’20)• As a boy Seamus O’Brien (’20), a rising junior from Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin, wanted to be a priest — and Santa Claus. “But I also never got why more hotdog salesmen didn’t sell bratwurst,” he explains. “So I told my parents that when I grew up I was going to be a priest and Santa Claus who owned a hotdog cart which sold brats instead of hotdogs.” What more need be said about the man? When he is not contemplating a life of holiness, generosity, and German sausage, this third-time prefect delights in the Summer Program’s hikes, sports, and conversations. He also has some fine words of wisdom that every student should commit to memory: Leave your phones in your room,” he says. “You can check Instagram, watch YouTube, or play Angry Birds any other time. These two weeks are an amazing time to grow in wisdom, your spiritual life, and friendships. Do not waste it! Just throw yourself into the program! (Do people even play Angry Birds anymore?)”

Micaela McCall (’20) Micaela McCall (’20)• Rising senior and third-time prefect Micaela McCall (’20) of Denver, Colorado, was a “second-time freshman” who enrolled at the College after first studying elsewhere. “I spent a year at the Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati before converting to Catholicism and ‘transferring’ to TAC,” she explains. “My heart longed for a bigger conversation, one about the leading philosophies of Western civilization, the relationship between God and man, and the works of literature that stand out as the best for giving such a vibrant depiction of humanity.” This summer she has been “falling in love with opera and taking voice and organ lessons,” she reports, adding the following fun fact: “My next-door neighbor recently told me I was always a noisy kid — it’s just that at some point my crying turned into singing!”

Greg Jackson (’22) Greg Jackson (’22)• “This is my first time at the Summer Program as a prefect, and I am pumped!” says Greg Jackson (’22), a rising sophomore from Manassas, Virginia, with a passion for hiking, sports, philosophy, and “intense ping pong.” Greg attended the program as a high school student in 2017 and enrolled at the College the next year. “The dancing, sports, classes, and camaraderie made my experience immensely enjoyable and very memorable,” he recalls. “I think my two favorite memories were the Open Mic Night and dorm dodgeball.” His advice to this year’s students is, “Don’t let the conversation end in the classroom” — the best discussions often continue over lunch, in the residence halls, and even on the off-campus excursions. “There is always more you can learn from your peers.”

Helen Blain (’20) Helen Blain (’20)• Five years ago Helen Blain (’20), then a high school soccer standout, made the trip from her hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Santa Paula for the Thomas Aquinas College High School Summer Program. Five years later — and now a rising senior at the College — she is serving for the third time as a program prefect. “While I sacrificed playing college soccer to attend TAC, I am so grateful I chose this education,” she says. “It has developed how I think in tremendous ways.” As a result, she is “thrilled to witness many summer programers’ first encounter with the Great Books and Discussion Method.” Expect to see her often on the athletic field: She enjoys any and all sports, especially rock climbing and, of course, soccer.

Jack Blewett (’20 Jack Blewett (’20)• “One of the greatest blessings in life is friendship,” reflects second-time prefect Jack Blewett (’20), “and the TAC Summer Program gave me some of the best friends I have.” A resident of Santa Paula, California, Jack has been working at the College this summer. On his days off, he has taken several trips to the beach with his family — which has whetted his appetite for the Summer Program’s beach day. “I also would love to get the students involved in the talent show,” he says, adding that he has high hopes for this summer’s program. “It's incredible what can happen in two weeks!”

Monica Konizeski (’20) Monica Konizeski (’20)• A rising senior, Monica Konizeski (’20) has spent most of her summer working as an intern for the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) at the organization’s Denver headquarters near her hometown of Littleton, Colorado. Although this is her first year working on the Summer Program, she is an alumna from 2015. “My favorite memory is belting my heart out at the sing-along around the bonfire on the fairway,” she remembers. As a prefect, she looks forward to “getting to know all of the summer programmers and doing fun night-time activities and hangouts in the dorm!” She encourages students “to try not to anticipate anything: trust in the program and do it all to the best of your ability for the glory of God!”

Orion Lacour (’22) Orion Lacour (’22)Orion Lacour (’22) has some words of tough love for the students on this year’s California High School Summer Program. “Take this time seriously to see if you want to come here, but also make sure you’re having a lot of fun,” he says. “If you’re not having fun, something’s wrong with you.” Having attended the program in 2016, the rising sophomore (he took a year off after graduating from high school) from Lomita, California, knows whereof he speaks. “My favorite memory is probably the dorm party and getting to know all the guys and prefects. We played dodgeball and wrestled and just had a good time,” he says. The program gave him an appreciation for Thomas Aquinas College which ultimately led him to enroll, and he is eager to pay that gift forward.


Yesterday we began a three-part series introducing the prefects for this year’s California High School Summer Program. Below is part 2:

Joe Daly (’19) Joe Daly (’19)• At summer’s end, Joe Daly (’19), a member of this year’s graduating class from Berwyn, Illinois, will be heading off to Washington, D.C., to enroll in a master’s program at The Catholic University of America’s Busch School of Business. But before then, he is sticking around to serve, for a second time, as a Summer Program prefect. “I love that the Summer Program makes the Discussion Method and the Great Books so accessible to high school students who are trying to figure out their next big step in life,” he says. “I almost didn’t enroll at TAC. I was ready to sign on the dotted line at another university to study music until I visited for the first time. The classes blew me away then, and continue to do so now.”

Katie Ellefson (’16) Katie Ellefson (’16)• When she was just 8 years old, Katie Ellefson (’16) decided that she wanted to become a nurse — a conviction that has remained with her to this day. Yet rather than enter a nursing program directly out of high school, she chose to come to Thomas Aquinas College first. “I’m so happy I did,” she says, “because it helped prepare me in ways I never imagined for things that challenge me now.” In December she will graduate from an accelerated Bachelor of Science nursing program in Cleveland, Ohio. She is taking a break from her studies to serve as a prefect this summer because “I want to help give the high school students a sneak-peek experience of a program that I have witnessed transform many lives for the better — especially my own.”

Stephen Cyr (’21) Stephen Cyr (’21)• A Summer Program rookie, Stephen Cyr (’21) of Grand Prairie, Texas, reports that he is “thrilled to meet new friends, help show them what TAC has in store for them, and share about my experience and growth that I’ve had during my first two years here.” He encourages students to make the most of their two weeks on campus. “Soak in the small taste of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty that you will read and talk about during these short two weeks,” he says. “Be excited to meet great new people who may be your friends for the rest of your life!” A few more details about Stephen: “I love riding dirt bikes, playing football, and playing saxophone. I passionately want to end abortion. And I bet I can vibrate my eyes faster than you can.”

Mikaela Heal (’21) Mikaela Heal (’21)• Four years ago Mikaela Heal (’21) of Tucson, Arizona, attended the Thomas Aquinas College High School Summer Program. “It was my first real encounter with liberal arts education and Catholic colleges, and the prefects were incredible role models for me,” she recalls. “The friendships I made with them and other students were by far some of the biggest reasons I ended up choosing TAC.” A prolific reader, Mikaela also enjoys watercolor painting, hiking, and embroidering. “I’m thrilled to meet the high schoolers and share the same joy that I was shown at my own program four years ago,” she says. “For me, the Summer Program offered perhaps some of the strongest formation I underwent in high school and my only regret was not taking advantage of it all as much as I could have.”

Cory Turner (’22) Cory Turner (’22)• Here’s an interesting fact about Cory Turner (’22), a rising sophomore from Huntington Beach, California: Growing up, he hated reading. Yet now he is an avid reader. “The difference now is what I’m reading, which are the Great Books,” he says. “The opportunity to read, discuss, and understand the greatest ideas ever is what makes reading here so enjoyable.” Cory also loves to surf, play soccer, hike, and camp. “The best advice I can give to those attending the Summer Program is to use this time to pray and ask God where and what He is calling you to be,” he says. “Whether you are unsure of what college to attend, or even if you are unsure of going to college at all, ask the Lord to reveal His will for you, and then trust in whatever that may be.”

Veronica Jost (’20) Veronica Jost (’20)• Veronica Jost (’20), a rising senior from Algonquin, Illinois, has spent much of her summer planning for post-college life by shadowing a physical therapist. “It’s been a great experience,” she says, “and I think I have more questions about physical therapy than my PT can answer!” At this point, she’s ready to take a break from PT by returning to campus to “meet more great people” and “share the beauty and fun that I experienced at my own  Summer Program.” Veronica is especially eager to take students to the Painter’s Shack Loop — “a challenging hiking or running path,” on the College’s property adjacent to campus, “with a beautiful view of the valley below.”

Daniel Selmeczy (’08) Daniel Selmeczy (’08)• A teacher at St. Monica Academy in Pasadena, California, Daniel Selmeczy (’08) is best known as the Summer Program’s dance instructor, turning neophytes into skilled dancers in time for the end-of-the-program dance. Now returning for his twelfth year as a prefect, he marvels at how he came to attend the College at all. “I was an atheist and was accepted to study marine biology at UC Santa Barbara when I first visited TAC,” he recalls. “During that visit, I fell in love with the program and was accepted to attend as a freshman that same year. Within a year I had converted to Catholicism, which to this day has been the single greatest blessing of my entire life.” His favorite memories of past years’ programs are the conversations in the residence halls and, not surprisingly, the dance lessons.

 Rebecca Montanaro (’19) Rebecca Montanaro (’19)• A member of the College’s newest graduating class, Rebecca Montanaro (’19) of Fillmore, California, is a teacher with the Mother of Divine Grace distance-learning program. She is a  self-proclaimed “philosophy geek” with a passion for art and all things aeronautic. She is also a Summer Program alumna (2014). “It was a fantastic experience, outside the class as well as in,” she says. “I ended up learning some things which actually helped me write my Senior Thesis this past year. My favorite part, though, was probably going to the Getty Center and bringing that experience back to the classroom.” She is eager to reread some of her favorite Great Books and share them with the students. “Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy,” for example, “was pivotal in my thesis, and I’m always interested to see what other people think of it and what they got out of it.”

Stay tuned for Part 3!