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Summer Program Blog

Summer Program Blog

August 06,
2019

Students demonstrate propositions at last night’s study hall Students demonstrate propositions at last night’s study hall

By all reports, the hard work that New England High School Summer put in to studying their Euclidian propositions last night paid off! “The students were universally positive about doing demonstrations on the blackboards at this morning’s class,” one prefect reports — “even though they were nervous yesterday.”

After midday Mass lunch came the afternoon class, the second on Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy. Students considered the question of happiness and what is commonly thought to bring it about, such as wealth, power, or honor. Gradually, the sections worked their way through the text to the realization that those things we often associate with happiness are limited goods — fragments of a larger, true happiness that can be found only in God, the supreme good.

A busy afternoon is already way with practice and a soccer match against the prefects. Then, looking ahead to this evening, Fr. Markey will lead a session of “Theology on Float,” in which he will answer anonymous questions about the Faith while students enjoy root beer and ice cream. Prefects have placed a questions box in the library and a questions basket (see below) in the dining commons.

Of course, we will have reports and photos tomorrow, so be sure to come back to thomasaquinas.edu/summerblog.

Questions basket


In our last post, we noted that yesterday afternoon some students and a prefect sought out the nearby New Hampshire state border. We now have learned that another group made the comparably short trip to Vermont. That’s three states in one afternoon — welcome to New England!

After an excitement-filled weekend — including Saturday’s trip to Boston and open-mic night, plus Sunday’s family-style barbeque — the Summer Program students returned to the classroom this morning. There they worked out Euclid’s definitions, common notions, and postulates in lively discussions. Having discussed the meaning 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 consider the big questions that the students have been pondering for the last week.

At tonight’s study hall, students will get their first chance to try out their new knowledge of geometry when they practice demonstrating Euclidean propositions on classroom chalkboards. The words “lines” and “points” will then take on new meaning as the students head over to Meany Gymnasium for the highly anticipated students vs. prefects basketball games. In preparation, during this afternoon’s recreation period, they practiced …

Basketball practice

… made their uniforms …

Students make uniforms

… and even prepared a choreographed dance routine for halftime:

Students choreograph a dance routine

Come back tomorrow for the photos and scores!


Students at the Creamie

When we left off yesterday, the New England High School Summer Program crew were off to the Creamie, and the trip did not disappoint! The walk to Northfield’s beloved ice-cream shop took about 25 minutes, after which students delighted in cones, sundaes, and milkshakes made from the wide array of gourmet ice creams that the creamery imports from dairies throughout the northeast. Some popular flavors included Columbian Coffee, Peanut Butter Thunder, and Deep Purple Cow (blackberries in cream with chunks of dark chocolate).

  • HSSP-NE19 -- Creamie
    Slideshow: The Creamie
  • HSSP-NE19 -- Creamie
    Slideshow: The Creamie
  • HSSP-NE19 -- Creamie
    Slideshow: The Creamie
  • HSSP-NE19 -- Creamie
    Slideshow: The Creamie
  • HSSP-NE19 -- Creamie
    Slideshow: The Creamie
  • HSSP-NE19 -- Creamie
    Slideshow: The Creamie
  • HSSP-NE19 -- Creamie
    Slideshow: The Creamie
  • HSSP-NE19 -- Creamie
    Slideshow: The Creamie
  • HSSP-NE19 -- Creamie
    Slideshow: The Creamie
  • HSSP-NE19 -- Creamie
    Slideshow: The Creamie
  • HSSP-NE19 -- Creamie
    Slideshow: The Creamie

A two-hour “siesta” was supposed to follow the return to campus — at least that’s what the prefects encouraged — but a good many students (and prefects!) used the time to explore the area instead. Several asked prefect Jean Guerriro to bring them to New Hampshire, whose border is only one mile from campus, and he gladly obliged.

Students at New Hampshire border

The highlight of this peaceful day, though, was the family-style barbeque, hosted by Assistant Dean Patrick Gardner, his wife, Kate, and their six sons at their on-campus home. Because Thomas Aquinas College, New England, is starting out small, the tutors expect that, at least in its first years, the school will be much like Thomas Aquinas College, California, was at the time of its founding — intimate and family-focused, with students coming to know well the tutors, their spouses, and their children. The barbeque gave the Summer Program students a great sense of that kind of community, which will be their home for four years, should they come here for college.

Family BBQ

Dr. Gardner — famous for his ability to cook delicious meals for large crowds — lived up to his reputation by preparing pulled pork on his smoker, accompanied with coleslaw and macaroni and cheese. The students, meanwhile, played Spikeball and tossed around a football, while others took on the tutors’ children in an unexpectedly lopsided game of ultimate Frisbee. “The tutors’ kids were, on average, about half as tall as the high schoolers,” one prefect reported, “but they crushed them.” It was a humbling experience for the high school students, to be sure, but it gave them something to look forward to should they become students at TAC, New England — vengeance.

Family BBQ

With the weekend winding down, the students attended Rosary in the temporary chapel …

Nightly Rosary

… they then got back to work at a 90-minute study hall in Dolben Library. After a weekend of travel and adventure, the group found the silence a refreshing respite, happily returning its attention to the great books that make up the College’s classical curriculum. The students got their first taste of Euclid, learning about his definitions, common notions, and postulates, as well as Boethius — the subjects of today’s two classes.

The night concluded with a campus-wide detective game loosely based on the classic mystery board game, Clue. Teams of students made their way from building to building, trying to solve the “murder” of Resident Assistant Isaac Cross (chosen to be the victim because, since it was his night off, he was nowhere to be see). At each building they met one prefect, who, playing the role of one of the suspects, provided them with some information about who committed the crime, where, and with what weapon. Once they assembled all the clues, they were able to solve the crime. (Spoiler alert: It was Professor Selmeczy, with his dance moves, in Gould Hall.)

Clue

Mystery solved, it was time for bed. Euclid and Boethius await!


Students at USS Constitution

We have photos to share from yesterday’s trip to Boston!

The adventure began with a two-hour bus ride that began on campus and ended at the Boston Common. Once there, the students split into small groups led by prefects, each of which explored different parts of the city.

  • HSSP -- NE19 -- Boston2
    Slideshow: Saturday in Boston
  • HSSP -- NE19 -- Boston2
    Slideshow: Saturday in Boston
  • HSSP -- NE19 -- Boston2
    Slideshow: Saturday in Boston
  • HSSP -- NE19 -- Boston2
    Slideshow: Saturday in Boston
  • HSSP -- NE19 -- Boston2
    Slideshow: Saturday in Boston
  • HSSP -- NE19 -- Boston2
    Slideshow: Saturday in Boston
  • HSSP -- NE19 -- Boston2
    Slideshow: Saturday in Boston
  • HSSP -- NE19 -- Boston2
    Slideshow: Saturday in Boston
  • HSSP -- NE19 -- Boston2
    Slideshow: Saturday in Boston
  • HSSP -- NE19 -- Boston2
    Slideshow: Saturday in Boston
  • HSSP -- NE19 -- Boston2
    Slideshow: Saturday in Boston
  • HSSP -- NE19 -- Boston2
    Slideshow: Saturday in Boston
  • HSSP -- NE19 -- Boston2
    Slideshow: Saturday in Boston
  • HSSP -- NE19 -- Boston2
    Slideshow: Saturday in Boston
  • HSSP -- NE19 -- Boston2
    Slideshow: Saturday in Boston
  • HSSP -- NE19 -- Boston2
    Slideshow: Saturday in Boston
  • HSSP -- NE19 -- Boston2
    Slideshow: Saturday in Boston
  • HSSP -- NE19 -- Boston2
    Slideshow: Saturday in Boston
  • HSSP -- NE19 -- Boston2
    Slideshow: Saturday in Boston
  • HSSP -- NE19 -- Boston2
    Slideshow: Saturday in Boston

In the Commons, students admired the Make Way for Ducklings statues and swan boats; visited the graves of John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and Paul Revere in the Granary Burying Ground; and walked up Beacon Hill to the Massachusetts State House. Some groups followed the Freedom Trail, visited King’s Chapel, and lunched in Quincy Market or Boston’s Italian North End. Those with a nautical bent checked out the USS Constitution, a storied 18th century frigate, or the USS Cassin Young, a World War II–era destroyer.

Late in the afternoon the students re-grouped and made their way back to campus for open-mc night, which consisted of story-telling, musical performances, and a raucous-sing-along! Below are photos …

  • HSSP -- NE19 -- Open-Mic Night
    Slideshow: Open-Mic Night
  • HSSP -- NE19 -- Open-Mic Night
    Slideshow: Open-Mic Night
  • HSSP -- NE19 -- Open-Mic Night
    Slideshow: Open-Mic Night
  • HSSP -- NE19 -- Open-Mic Night
    Slideshow: Open-Mic Night
  • HSSP -- NE19 -- Open-Mic Night
    Slideshow: Open-Mic Night
  • HSSP -- NE19 -- Open-Mic Night
    Slideshow: Open-Mic Night
  • HSSP -- NE19 -- Open-Mic Night
    Slideshow: Open-Mic Night
  • HSSP -- NE19 -- Open-Mic Night
    Slideshow: Open-Mic Night
  • HSSP -- NE19 -- Open-Mic Night
    Slideshow: Open-Mic Night
  • HSSP -- NE19 -- Open-Mic Night
    Slideshow: Open-Mic Night
  • HSSP -- NE19 -- Open-Mic Night
    Slideshow: Open-Mic Night
  • HSSP -- NE19 -- Open-Mic Night
    Slideshow: Open-Mic Night
  • HSSP -- NE19 -- Open-Mic Night
    Slideshow: Open-Mic Night
  • HSSP -- NE19 -- Open-Mic Night
    Slideshow: Open-Mic Night
  • HSSP -- NE19 -- Open-Mic Night
    Slideshow: Open-Mic Night
  • HSSP -- NE19 -- Open-Mic Night
    Slideshow: Open-Mic Night
  • HSSP -- NE19 -- Open-Mic Night
    Slideshow: Open-Mic Night
  • HSSP -- NE19 -- Open-Mic Night
    Slideshow: Open-Mic Night
  • HSSP -- NE19 -- Open-Mic Night
    Slideshow: Open-Mic Night
  • HSSP -- NE19 -- Open-Mic Night
    Slideshow: Open-Mic Night

… and some video:

The night concluded with a brief bonfire, then curfew and consecration. This morning the day began with Mass, both in the extraordinary (7:15 a.m.) and ordinary forms (9:00 a.m.). Then came a morning dance class …

students dance

…followed a trip to Northfield’s beloved ice-cream shop, the Creamie, and a two-hour “siesta.” The big event later today will be a family-style barbeque, held at the home of tutor Dr. Patrick Gardner and his family. Check back tomorrow for photos!


August 03,
2019

Students on campus before leaving for Boston

After Friday night’s full schedule of soccer, dancing, drama, and prayer, students arose this morning for their next adventure — a trip to Boston! After breakfast and Mass, they loaded into a coach bus for the two-hour trip:

Students in bus

Below are a few early photo highlights. Come back Sunday for a full report complete with slideshows!

Students post before duck  boat

Students at statue

Students walk down street

Students post before plaque

Students climb steps of State House


fire pit

The above photo is a carryover from Thursday night’s bonfire. Thomas Aquinas, New England, owns two of these gorgeous fire pits, the handiwork of Facilities Manager Steve Wiggin. The fire pits feature the College crest plus “1971” and “2019” — the founding dates, respectively, of the California and New England campuses!

As previously reported, students awoke from the bonfire revelry on Friday morning and plunged themselves into two different kinds of arguments for the existence of God, probabilistic and reasoned. Afterward it was time for the daily recreation period, which featured soccer on the athletic field …

  • HSSP-NE19 -- Soccer
    Slideshow: Soccer
  • HSSP-NE19 -- Soccer
    Slideshow: Soccer
  • HSSP-NE19 -- Soccer
    Slideshow: Soccer
  • HSSP-NE19 -- Soccer
    Slideshow: Soccer
  • HSSP-NE19 -- Soccer
    Slideshow: Soccer
  • HSSP-NE19 -- Soccer
    Slideshow: Soccer
  • HSSP-NE19 -- Soccer
    Slideshow: Soccer
  • HSSP-NE19 -- Soccer
    Slideshow: Soccer
  • HSSP-NE19 -- Soccer
    Slideshow: Soccer
  • HSSP-NE19 -- Soccer
    Slideshow: Soccer
  • HSSP-NE19 -- Soccer
    Slideshow: Soccer
  • HSSP-NE19 -- Soccer
    Slideshow: Soccer

… and a rehearsal for the evening’s theatrical productions, held in Gould Hall:

Afterward prefect Dan Selmeczy led his second dance class, also in Gould Hall. He tried this new location because the last one — the dance studio — proved, ironically, to be a less than ideal place to dance. “The studio was made for ballet, and so the floor was almost sticky,” Dan says. “It didn’t have that smooth, practically slippery surface you want for rhumba and swing steps.” So this time Dan tried Gould, where the hardwood floors were just resurfaced this spring. “The result was great,” he says. “The students found their dance steps much more satisfying!”

  • HSSP-NE19 -- 2nd Dance Class
    Slideshow: Dance Class
  • HSSP-NE19 -- 2nd Dance Class
    Slideshow: Dance Class
  • HSSP-NE19 -- 2nd Dance Class
    Slideshow: Dance Class
  • HSSP-NE19 -- 2nd Dance Class
    Slideshow: Dance Class
  • HSSP-NE19 -- 2nd Dance Class
    Slideshow: Dance Class
  • HSSP-NE19 -- 2nd Dance Class
    Slideshow: Dance Class
  • HSSP-NE19 -- 2nd Dance Class
    Slideshow: Dance Class
  • HSSP-NE19 -- 2nd Dance Class
    Slideshow: Dance Class
  • HSSP-NE19 -- 2nd Dance Class
    Slideshow: Dance Class
  • HSSP-NE19 -- 2nd Dance Class
    Slideshow: Dance Class
  • HSSP-NE19 -- 2nd Dance Class
    Slideshow: Dance Class
  • HSSP-NE19 -- 2nd Dance Class
    Slideshow: Dance Class

From there the group moved on to the small theater in Dolben Library, where students performed scenes from The Importance of Being Earnest and Antigone, as well as the St. Crispin’s Day Speech from Henry V, a Shakespearean rendition of “The Three Little Pigs,” and a comical, accelerated version of Romeo and Juliet. The student actors were a big hit — eliciting a standing ovation from their peers at the end of the performance.

  • HSSP-NE19 -- Arts Night
    Slideshow: Friday Night Arts
  • HSSP-NE19 -- Arts Night
    Slideshow: Friday Night Arts
  • HSSP-NE19 -- Arts Night
    Slideshow: Friday Night Arts
  • HSSP-NE19 -- Arts Night
    Slideshow: Friday Night Arts
  • HSSP-NE19 -- Arts Night
    Slideshow: Friday Night Arts
  • HSSP-NE19 -- Arts Night
    Slideshow: Friday Night Arts
  • HSSP-NE19 -- Arts Night
    Slideshow: Friday Night Arts
  • HSSP-NE19 -- Arts Night
    Slideshow: Friday Night Arts
  • HSSP-NE19 -- Arts Night
    Slideshow: Friday Night Arts
  • HSSP-NE19 -- Arts Night
    Slideshow: Friday Night Arts
  • HSSP-NE19 -- Arts Night
    Slideshow: Friday Night Arts
  • HSSP-NE19 -- Arts Night
    Slideshow: Friday Night Arts
  • HSSP-NE19 -- Arts Night
    Slideshow: Friday Night Arts

As the sun began to set, the students then participated in a Stations of the Cross procession around campus, led by Chaplain Rev. Greg Markey. As there are no permanent Stations on the new campus (yet!), student prefects held up images of scenes from the passion and death of Christ, at which the students prayed at regular intervals during their walk across campus.

Stations of the Cross

Stations of the Cross

To conclude the night, the students returned to the library theater, where prefects Maggie Dillon and Joe Guinee put on a presentation about all the group will experience on today’s outing — a trip to Boston! Afterward the students remained the theater to watch Remember the Titans, enjoying a snack of movie-theater popcorn and candy. Then it was time for consecration and bed, in anticipation of today’s big trip!

Come back later for photos from Boston!


August 02,
2019

Students walk on campus

On the heels of a busy Thursday night came a pensive Friday morning, as members of the New England High School Summer Program began the day considering Pascal’s famous “Wager.” The opening question was, “What is a wager,” and moved from there to discussions of the finite vs. the infinite, the difference between pleasure and true happiness, the existence of objective truth and morality, and whether we are capable of recognizing them.

More important, is faith reasonable? Can one reason one’s way to the existence of God — or is supernatural revelation necessary? These questions dominated the conversation at Friday’s fish-and-chips lunch in Gould Hall. It was a good preparation for what would follow in the afternoon class,  where students considered two readings: French naturalist J. Henri Fabre’s detailed account of the workings of bees and St. Thomas Aquinas’ fifth proof for the existence of God, the argument from design.

Students eat lunch

Bees, students learned from reading Fabre’s meticulous descriptions of their activities, are expert geometricians because they are moved by a heavenly geometer: Every part of their bodies— from their antennae, to their stomachs, to their cells — has a purpose. The beauty and complexity of this order, the classes found, contradicted the Pre-Socratics’ presumption of a meaningless universe, while lending support to St. Thomas’ argument that the presence of a design requires a designer.

Students walk by chapel

Speaking of the Designer, we were able to secure a brief clip of the student choir singing “Adoramus Te” at yesterday’s Mass:

Pretty good for a group that has only had two practices! The choir should be in great shape in time for Sunday!

Students on  walkway


Students at Connecticut River

As promised yesterday, we now have news and photos from yesterday’s visit to the Connecticut River!

  • HSSP 19 -- Connecticut River
    Slideshow: Trip to the Connecticut River
  • HSSP 19 -- Connecticut River
    Slideshow: Trip to the Connecticut River
  • HSSP 19 -- Connecticut River
    Slideshow: Trip to the Connecticut River
  • HSSP 19 -- Connecticut River
    Slideshow: Trip to the Connecticut River
  • HSSP 19 -- Connecticut River
    Slideshow: Trip to the Connecticut River
  • HSSP 19 -- Connecticut River
    Slideshow: Trip to the Connecticut River
  • HSSP 19 -- Connecticut River
    Slideshow: Trip to the Connecticut River
  • HSSP 19 -- Connecticut River
    Slideshow: Trip to the Connecticut River
  • HSSP 19 -- Connecticut River
    Slideshow: Trip to the Connecticut River
  • HSSP 19 -- Connecticut River
    Slideshow: Trip to the Connecticut River
  • HSSP 19 -- Connecticut River
    Slideshow: Trip to the Connecticut River
  • HSSP 19 -- Connecticut River
    Slideshow: Trip to the Connecticut River
  • HSSP 19 -- Connecticut River
    Slideshow: Trip to the Connecticut River

The trip began immediately after lunch with a quick, 10-minute bus ride. After arriving at a recreation area, students relaxed, playing cornhole and Frisbee. They also enjoyed a dinner of hot dogs and hamburgers, grilled by the prefects.

After returning to campus, the students attended an abbreviated study hall, where they read up on Pascal, Fabre, and St. Thomas Aquinas in preparation for today’s classes, which will examine the authors’ various proofs for the existence of God. They then led the nightly Rosary in the temporary chapel, after which came auditions for Saturday’s open-mic night. The prefects are pleased to report that this is a talented group, and the entertainment for Saturday looks promising!

Then it was to the lawn outside Gould Hall, where the New England students got to enjoy a special event that, due to climate restrictions, has been off limits to California students these last few years — a bonfire! Actually, there were two bonfires, around which students played instruments, sang, and made s’mores. Prefect Maggie Dillon distributed glow sticks — via a potato gun! — which created much excitement. Before night’s end, a few students prayed compline with Fr. Markey.

Bonfire

Not surprisingly, students were ready to retire when curfew rolled around. After showers, some light conversation, and nightly consecration, the group turned in to re-charge and refresh for Friday and the weekend.

Consecration in the men's residence hall


Students outside Dolben Library

After a heavy dose of Genesis on Wednesday, students in the New England High School program relaxed that afternoon with a recreation period in Meany Gymnasium, marking the gym’s first official use as part of Thomas Aquinas College. The session began with a punishing game of dodgeball — punishing because those who got knocked out of the game could only earn their way back in by running five laps around the gym floor! 

Dodgeball

Then came some basketball …

Basketball

… and even some weight-lifting in the men’s exercise room:

student with dumbbells

Meanwhile, over in the temporary chapel, prefect Micaela McCall held her second choir practice, offering students an introduction to sacred music. She also taught the group “Adoramus Te,” which it will sing at Mass later today. (We will try to get video — stay tuned!) And, to complete this busy afternoon, there were auditions for Friday’s theatrical performances, which are set to include scenes from The Importance of Being Earnest and Antigone, as well as the St. Crispin’s Day Speech from Henry V, a Shakespearean rendition of “The Three Little Pigs,” and a comical, accelerated version of Romeo and Juliet.

After dinner students attended study hall in Dolben Library, where they read Søren Kierkegaard’s four variations of the Sacrifice of Isaac for this morning’s class. Then, at nightly Rosary they were blessed with a “Holy Half Hour” — 30 minutes of exposition and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, preceded by a beautiful reflection about vocation and God’s mercy from Chaplain Rev. Greg Markey. Father offered confession during adoration, and many prefects and students alike availed themselves of the sacrament.

Adoration

Adoration

Then came the night’s main event: the first dance class, held in Meany Gymnasium’s dance studio. Between the summer heat and natural shyness, the students seemed a little reluctant at first, but once prefect Dan Selmeczy began teaching some meringue, American-style rhumba, and swing, their attitudes quickly changed. Indeed, after curfew the girls were seen practicing their steps back in their residence halls!

Dance class

To cool off, the students then enjoyed prefect-prepared glasses of ice-cold sparkling lemonade, served in Gould Hall. Finally they returned to their residence halls, where, dance practice notwithstanding, they soon retired in anticipation of an exciting Thursday — to be highlighted with Kierkegaard in the classroom and kayaking along the Connecticut River!

 


August 01,
2019

Students reading

Thursday has been a whirlwind for the students on the 2019 New England 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, then rose for breakfast before heading over to Palmer Hall for the morning’s class: an examination of Fear and Trembling by the Christian existentialist Søren Kierkegaard.

Fear and Trembling offers several scenarios of the story of Abraham in an attempt to determine whether or not the patriarch’s faith seems rational. This morning’s 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?”

After the midday Mass, the conversation continued over a lunch of sandwiches. Students discussed the meaning of Kierkegaard’s claim that Abraham, by virtue of his great faith, could believe the impossible. Is this an accurate characterization of faith, as opposed to the harmony between faith and reason?

There is only one class today, in order to make time for this afternoon’s highly anticipated event: a visit to the Connecticut River! After lunch, the group loaded onto a bus and drove down to the river’s bank.

Check out tomorrow morning’s blog post for photos from the trip!