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Summer Program Blog

Summer Program Blog

July 31,
2019

Students in classroom discussion

Having discussed the pre-Socratic philosophers’ notions of nature on Tuesday, the Summer Program students turned their attention this morning to the Biblical account of Creation in the first 10 chapters of Genesis. 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.

At the mid-day Mass, Chaplain Rev. Greg Markey began his homily with a quote from the suggested patron of the boys’ residence hall, St. John Bosco: “Only God knows the good that can come about by reading one good Catholic book.” Father then related that quote to the day’s saint, Ignatius of Loyola, whose own formation and life was heavily influenced by reading the lives of the saints. St. Ignatius, Father continued, was led to do great works by reading great books — and so, too, should the students on the Summer Program, who are getting a taste of the Great Books of Western civilization, readings which, when pursued under the light of faith, can prepare them, too, for lives of greatness.

Lunch in Gould Hall

The day’s lunch consisted of burgers and more conversation of Genesis, with students debating such questions as, “How do we know that what God created is actually good?” One answer was that, since God has the knowledge of good and evil, He knows whereof He speaks when he pronounces Creation “good.” Another was that Genesis’ depiction of nature points to a purpose and order in all things, which, if they function in accordance with that purpose and order, make them good.

There was still more discussion of Genesis in the afternoon class, which focused on chapters 11 to 25. This time students considered Abraham and Isaac, focusing on such questions as, “What is meant by the various blessings given to Abram?” “What does it mean to bless God?” “Was Abraham good, so God chose him to be father of faith, or was he good because God chose him?” “Can you have faith and still question God or be anxious?” Discussions also made reference to Plato’s treatment of filial piety in the Euthyphro, giving the students a sense of how the College’s curriculum is fully integrated. They will get an even greater appreciation of that integration tomorrow, when they discuss Kierkegaard’s various presentations of the Sacrifice of Isaac in Fear and Trembling.

Student with Dr. Froula and Mr. Jost

Two students

Three students


Students walking on campus

After contemplating nature and its origins in yesterday’s afternoon class, about half of the students of the 2019 New England High School Summer Program experienced nature firsthand with a walk through the woods surrounding the campus. Leading the walk was Dr. Thomas J. Kaiser, the associate dean for the New England campus, a falconer, and an accomplished outdoorsman who holds a Ph.D. in biology:

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Meanwhile, the other half of the group stayed on campus for a hot and intense game of Ultimate Frisbee:

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    Slideshow: Ultimate Frisbee
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    Slideshow: Ultimate Frisbee

After a dinner of chicken pot pie and mashed sweet potatoes, the group moved on to study hall in Dolben Library. Students quietly prepared for today’s classes on Genesis:

Students in study hall

Then came the nightly Rosary, which took place in the temporary chapel in Olivia Music Hall, as the permanent chapel is still under renovation in preparation for the start of the academic year:

Rosary in Olivia Music Hall

Although prefects had planned to end the night with a bonfire, some brief but heavy rainfalls put that plan on hold. (If you haven’t already seen it, you must check out the rainbow photo that Dr. Hughes took last night!) The previously planned dorm parties were likewise postponed; instead, students enjoyed the nightly coffee shop session complete with ping pong, foosball, board games, and prefect-prepared chai lattes:

  • HSSP-NE19 -- 1st Tuesday -- Coffee Shop
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Come back later today for updates on today’s classes on Genesis!


An evening rainbow over the New England campus! An evening rainbow over the New England campus

At this morning’s class, the students of the 2019 New England High School Great Books Program discussed Sophocles’ Antigone, considering the perennial conflict between individual conscience and obedience to civil laws. Then, before heading to lunch, they came to Palmer Hall to pose for a group photo as well as photos of their class sections:

Dr. Froula’s section Dr. Froula’s section

Dr. Hughes’ section Dr. Hughes’ section

Dr. Shivone’s section Dr. Shivone’s section

At a lunch of beef and noodles, students continued their discussion of Antigone, specifically the question: Is Antigone character rash? At one table, where students sat with tutors Dr. Margaret Hughes and Dr. Paul Shields, they also contemplated the nature of the Discussion Method. Dr. Shields described the method as a “three-dimensional” pedagogy involving the tutor, the student, and his peers — as distinct from the “two-dimensional” pedagogy of lecturing, wherein the student interacts only with the lecturer. One of the high school students reported that she found this three-dimensional learning more dynamic, that she is challenged, and forced to grow in her thinking, when peers put forth arguments that contradict her own.

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

But first, students can look forward to tonight’s post-curfew dorm parties — come back Wednesday for details!


Water-balloon fight

Last we posted, students had just wrapped up their second class of the 2019 New England High School Program, an examination of Plato’s Euthyphro. 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.

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    Slideshow: Section Games
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The activities included racing while carrying an egg on a spoon in one’s mouth; sprinting while wearing a soaked, XXXL TAC sweatshirt; three-legged races; and a balloon toss that quickly devolved into an all-out water war complete with super-soakers! Afterward, the games continued with soccer and volleyball on the athletic fields.

Pleasantly exhausted, the group then made its way to a pizza dinner, followed by the first study hall of the program in Dolben Library. The prefects report that this is a studious, thoughtful group of students, who took on with gusto the night’s readings of Sophocles’ Antigone and texts from the pre-Socratic philosophers.

Then it was time for the nightly Rosary in the temporary chapel in Olivia Music Hall, led by prefects, followed by the first “Coffee Shop” of the program. Meeting up in Gould Hall, students enjoyed an evening of board games, ping pong, and Telephone. They were also treated to Shirley Temples and professional-grade mochas prepared by prefects Joe Guinee and Simone Kelly, who, in her part-time job back in California, was named “Barista of the Year” in Ventura County.

  • HSSPNE19 -- 1st Coffee Shop
    Slideshow: Coffee Shop
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At curfew the students returned to their residence halls for chips, salsa, and conversation. “The girls were all tired and went to bed early,” reports one of the female prefects. For the boys, however, the night was still young!

It is the College’s practice to name its buildings after saints, meaning that pretty much all of the newly acquired buildings on the New England campus need patrons. And so the boys staged a playful debate about for which saint their residence hall, Wilson, should be named. Andrew Rossi led the conversation and Joe Guinee played the role of “Devil’s Advocate,” arguing vehemently against any and all proposals. In total, some 40 saints were considered, but the clear crowd favorite was St. John Bosco. “Bosco! Bosco! Bosco!” the boys repeatedly chanted — drawing Joe’s feigned outrage.

At last they called it a night. At breakfast the seven-point scale question of the morning was: “How would you rate the character of Antigone, with 1 being a complete narcissist, and 7 being a saintly martyr?” Average ranking: 5.

Come back this afternoon for reports from today’s classes!


July 29,
2019

Student at Monday morning’s academic orientation Student at Monday morning’s academic orientation

The students at the 2019 New England High School Summer Program have completed their first day of classes!

At this morning’s session, they 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?”

At lunch, the conversation continued, and prefect Dan Selmeczy asked students to offer their analyses of the reading according to his much-beloved seven-point scales. Question one was, “With 1 being, ‘the gods control everything,’ and 7 being, ‘humans control everything,’ how would you rate the relative roles of the gods and men in shaping the course of human lives, according to Sophocles’ portrayal?” Question two: “How would you rank the morality of Oedipus, with Hitler at 1, and Mother Teresa at 7?” The average ranking to both questions, he said was around 4.

In the afternoon class on Plato’s Euthyphro, students discussed piety and its relationship to justice, concluding that piety is, in fact, justice in its most perfect form. Afterward, one student approached prefects Katie Ellefson and Seamus O’Brien and asked them what an apple is. When they asked him why he asked, he replied, “I came here thinking I know lots of things, and now I’m not sure I know anything anymore!”

This self-deprecating observation was the result, he said, of his class’ efforts to define piety — which then turned into an attempt to define “definition” — an experience that was at once both confusing and eye-opening. Being forced to reconsider set notions and define concepts that they may previously have taken for granted is, for most students, the first step toward contemplating and then understanding much larger ideas. This class already seems to be growing and expanding their intellectual horizons, which is exciting to see.

Come back tomorrow for posts — with photos — from tonight’s activities!


July 29,
2019

US and TAC flags flying over New England campus

Thomas Aquinas College, New England, is officially open for business!

Throughout the day Sunday, students and their families arrived for the campus’ first-ever High School Summer Program. They were greeted by prefects, who led students to their residence halls and offered a campus tour that afternoon:

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    Slideshow: Sunday in New England
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Nearly everyone arrived in time for a dinner that evening of tri-tip steak, corn on the cob, hot dogs, and beans in Gould Hall. Afterward Admissions Director Jon Daly and Dr. Stephen Shivone, a tutor at the College and the director of the New England Summer Program, welcomed students and gave them a sense of what they could expect for the next two weeks. Head men’s prefect Andrew Rossi urged the high schoolers to “live the life of the program to its fullest,” giving themselves completely to the experience. His fellow prefects — who report that this seems to be a very academically minded, thoughtful group — are confident that the students will take Rossi’s advice to heart!

Mr. Daly speaks at Orientation

Tired from what was, for most, a long day of travel, the students then retired for ice-cream sundaes in their residence halls, plus a visit from Chaplain Rev. Greg Markey, who spoke about the spiritual life of the College. The prefects discussed the rules of residence, after which the students played various ice-breakers, which — for the boys — included an “extreme” version of the card game “Spoons” and whiffle-ball dodgeball. A number of the young men stayed up all the way until lights out, engaged in in a profound conversation on grace, relics, and the Eucharist.

First night in girls' residence hall

After a breakfast of waffles, eggs, sausage, and blueberries this morning, there was an academic orientation, during which Dr. Shivone introduced his fellow tutors for the New England program, Dr. Josef Froula and Dr. Margaret Hughes. He also urged the students not to be too cautious about speaking up in class — they need not have formulated the perfect comment in order to move the conversation forward. With that in mind, the students then set off for the morning’s classes — the first classes ever offered at Thomas Aquinas  College, New England! — to discuss Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex.

Come back later today for pictures and updates!


Students and prefects at BOS

It’s arrival day for the inaugural Thomas Aquinas College High School Summer Program in New England! Students from throughout the country started arriving at Boston’s Logan Airport this morning, where they met up with our prefects, dressed in easily spotted red t-shirts.

Temporary chapel in Olivia Music Hall

The prefects have been busy! Last night they helped set up the temporary chapel in Olivia Music Hall (the permanent chapel is still under renovation), after which they paid a visit to the street sign that will greet students as they drive onto campus:

Prefects point to TAC-NE sign

Then they got up early this morning to make their way to the airport — early enough to get this beauty shot of the morning mist that had settled over the campus:

Mist on the NE campus

Buses are now making their way from the airport to campus, and two great weeks of learning, faith, and friendship will soon be under way!

Students and prefects on bus


Three students

The 2019 High School Summer Program has come to an end!

An amazing last day of the program was capped off with a spectacular last night at Friday’s Farewell Banquet. To start the evening, the gentlemen picked up the ladies at St. Monica’s Hall, then escorted them to dinner in St. Joseph Commons:

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    Slideshow: Farewell Banquet dinner
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Then students prayed their final Rosary together in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel:

Students praying the Rosary

The the group next made its way over to St. Cecilia Hall for the entertainment portion of the evening, which consisted of various skits and musical performances:

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    Slideshow: Banquet Entertainment
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Finally the students gathered in the plaza of St. Gladys Hall, where they danced until nearly midnight:

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    Slideshow: Farewell Banquet Dance
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After much hugging and bidding adieu, all turned in to the residence halls and prepared for their journeys back home, with the first van leaving around 4:00 a.m., and the last scheduled to depart just after noon.

From the pre-Socratics to Euclid, from Sophocles to O’Connor; from playing volleyball to diving on the slip-n-slide; praying at the Stations, at Mass, and in Adoration; going to the Getty, the beach, Santa Barbara, and the Hollywood Bowl — it has been a truly blessed two weeks. The prefects have marveled, throughout, at the thoughtfulness, the responsibility, the faith, the spiritedness, and the joy of this group. Thanks be to God!

We hope to see a good many of these students again as members of the Thomas Aquinas College Class of 2024!

We should have some photos from this morning’s depatures before too long, so be sure to check the blog again later!


July 27,
2019

Goodbyes

Never mind that they stayed up late for last night’s dance, most of the High School Summer Program students were up early this morning to bid their friends a fond farewell. The vans and buses began leaving the campus as early as 4:00 a.m. With tears, hugs, and promises to meet again, the students said goodbye.

https://thomasaquinas.edu/summerblog/last-night-santa-paula-2019

Goodbyes

Goodbyes

Goodbyes

And some girls left this sweet message behind in their residence hall:

Goodbyes

The feeling is mutual! The Admissions Staff looks forward to welcoming many of these students back to campus in the coming months. May God bless you!


As a postscript to our recent items about the last night of the California Summer Program and this morning’s farewells, we present the California Summer Program Video, which had students laughing and crying at last night’s gala:

The California program has come to an end, but the good times are not over! The New England program begins tomorrow morning — keep following thomasaquinas.edu/summerblog for photos and updates!