Summer Program Blog
On Saturday evening, after the last of the 2016 High School Summer Program students left campus and headed for home, the team that ran the program got together for a goodbye dinner. The Admissions counselors, the chaplains, and all the prefects gathered one last time to celebrate their two weeks of hard work. “It was a beautiful reminder of how dedicated so many people are to the College and to its students,” says Admissions Director Jon Daly. “It was really inspiring.”
The group also turned in some additional photos from the goodbyes on Saturday morning, which we present in one final slideshow:
The College thanks all those who helped make the 2016 program such a success — the dedicated Admissions team, the hard-working prefects, the devoted chaplains, the wise tutors, the generous parents, and the hard-working students! Special thanks, too, are in order for prefects Zoe Appleby and Patrick Nazeck, who provided the information that kept this blog running, and Martin McCann and Alexis Pomietlo, who took the photographs.
And, of course, all thanks and praise be to God!
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.
The Admissions Staff looks forward to welcoming many of these students back to campus in the coming months. May God bless them!
The 2016 High School Summer Program has, alas, come to an end!
Friday night St. Joseph Commons hosted the farewell banquet, at which several of the program’s young musicians entertained the crowd, and prefects performed some highly amusing skits. At the conclusion of dinner, all moved to the Chapel, where Fr. Sebastian exposed the Blessed Sacrament, and the group prayed the Rosary in Adoration.
Students then gathered in the plaza of St. Gladys Hall, where they danced until nearly midnight. Before saying goodbye, students penned yearbook-style notes to one another — oftentimes inside their copies of Euclid’s Elements! 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.
Thanks be to God for two amazing weeks!
We have reached the point in the High School Summer Program when people begin to speak of “lasts.” On Thursday night we had the last dance class and the last study hall; and today we have the last class, the last lunch, the last nighttime consecration.
Yet no one is getting too wistful, for now. At the conclusion of Thursday afternoon’s classes, students clashed with ferocious intensity in the 3-on-3 basketball tournament. Eight teams worked their way through a playoff bracket, culminating in a championship match won by the team of Fr. Sebastian (chaplain), Martin McCann (prefect), and Charlie C. (student).
Then it was time for dinner, study hall, Rosary, one last dance review, and an evening of iced-coffee drinks in the campus coffee shop. At 10:30 p.m., students returned to their residence halls for curfew, but the night was not over just yet.
While the ladies of St. Monica’s were enjoying s’mores — just after singing “Happy Birthday” to student Julie M. — they heard what one prefect described as “a clamor.” When they looked out their windows, they saw the men of the Summer Program, dressed in their Sunday best and bearing chocolates. The gentlemen then proceeded to serenade the ladies by singing “Red is the Rose,” Nat King Cole’s “L-O-V-E,” and “A Whole New World” from Aladdin, with the women joining in to sing the part of Jasmine.
We now enter the final day of the program, with classes on Euclid and O’Connor, plus one last lunch, recreation period, and Rosary — as well as the farewell banquet and dance — still to come.
With the completion of today’s classes, we have just about reached the end of the 2016 High School Summer Program!
This morning students met for their last class on Euclid, where they confidently demonstrated Book I, Propositions 16, 29, and 32 for their classmates. Says Admissions Director Jon Daly, “This is one of the most studious groups we have ever seen. The tutors keep telling me how impressed they are with our students!”
After Mass and lunch, it was time for the last class of the program, during which students discussed Flannery O’Connor’s Everything That Rises Must Converge. The conversation focused on the symbolism of the story and its fraught relationship between a mother and her adult son, set amid the racial tensions of the mid-twentieth century American south.
At the end of their classes, students received a few farewell gifts from the Summer Program staff, including a copy of C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, photos of their sections, and a framed photo of the entire group.
As this post is being written, the students are getting ready for tonight’s banquet, entertainment, and dance, with a video slideshow to follow. We will post pictures of tonight’s festivities — as well as tomorrow’s goodbyes — in the morning.
This post resumes where the last one left off, namely, yesterday’s dance class, during which students worked on swing, rumba, and waltz. By all reports, they are more than adequately prepared for the end-of-the-program dance which is — gulp — tomorrow!
The group then quickly moved to the campus ponds for “watermelon water polo,” in which teams of women, and then men, attempted to bring a greased watermelon across the pond and to the opposing team’s goal. “It was intense, especially the boys’ match,” a prefect reports. “We went through about five watermelons!”
This exhausting and hilarious activity was followed by a hearty dinner, then a study period in the library and classrooms. Students once more practiced their Euclidean propositions with the help of the prefects, and they also prepared for today’s last class on Boethius.
After Rosary in the Chapel came the highlight of the evening, “Theology on Float.” Prefects served scores of root-beer floats to hungry students, who sat back and heard Fr. Sebastian answer their anonymously submitted questions. The topics included evolution, Purgatory, and the natural family, and they led to further post-curfew discussions (with s’mores) around the fire pits in the residence-hall courtyards. Fr. Sebastian joined the women’s conversation and Fr. Paul, the men’s, before leading students in their nightly consecration.
Fr. Sebastian answers students’ questions
It was another great day — only two more to go!
Prefects clean up after “Theology on Float”
When we left off yesterday, the 2016 High School Summer Program students had just boarded three buses for a trip to Los Angeles. Traffic was heavy, as it often is in L.A., but the ride passed quickly. Students made good use of the time by practicing their Euclidean demonstrations, thanks to some prescient prefects who brought along paper and pencils for the whole group.
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 Monet, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, and Bernini. They delighted to see a portrait of Boethius; to search for the hallmarks of excellent art that Dr. Nieto had identified in his Tuesday talk; and to admire one of the museum’s temporary exhibits, Unruly Nature: The Landscapes of Théodore Rousseau. They also found time to take plenty of pictures around the beautiful gardens, fountains, and outdoor patios.
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 performance. The night’s concert was Mirga Conducts Beethoven and Ravel, billed as a meeting of “exhilarating power and sensuous grace,” conducted by the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s “charismatic associate conductor.” Students enjoyed the spirited performance, relaxing under the stars on a hot summer night in the Hollywood Hills.
The concert ended fairly late (about 10:30 or so), at which time students returned to the buses back to campus. Then it was off to bed for some much-needed rest before Wednesday’s classes on Euclid’s Elements and Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy.
Following Monday’s classes and an abbreviated recreation period, students took to the campus coffee shop, where Dr. John Nieto, a member of the College’s teaching faculty, presented his annual talk, “Art and Beauty.” As part of his discussion, Mr. Nieto spoke about many of the works that students would see during their Tuesday-afternoon trip to the Getty Center in Los Angeles. Then came dinner, followed by an Admissions meeting, at which Admissions counselors and Director Jon Daly took questions from students about the College and its application process.
During study hall students met with prefects and fellow members of their sections to prepare for Tuesday morning’s class, at which they would be called upon to demonstrate Euclidean propositions on the chalkboard. “They seem very well prepared,” one prefect observed. “Mostly I was only helping them put a little polish their presentation.”
After study hall and Rosary, the group gathered on the basketball courts for two highly anticipated match-ups of students vs. prefects. The women’s game was a nail-biter, with the prefects scoring the winning basket with only 10 seconds left on the clock. The men’s game was not as close, but was nonetheless hard-fought, with the prefects emerging triumphant.
Back in the residence halls after curfew, students recapped the basketball game and feasted on soft pretzels. Then it was time for consecration and lights out so that all would be fresh and alert for the next morning’s presentations!
Sunday began with two Masses in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel, the first in the extraordinary form, and the second in the ordinary form, accompanied by the Thomas Aquinas College Choir. Students then quickly ate some breakfast burritos and changed their clothes before gathering in the Commons and boarding three passenger buses for a day of adventure …
First stop: Ventura State Beach, about a 25-minute drive from campus, where students delighted in volleyball, swimming, and bountiful natural beauty. In shifts, groups took breaks for lunch at a nearby In-n-Out Burger, the iconic California burger chain. The highlight of the day, however, came when pods of dolphins delighted the group by swimming, playing, and diving close to the shoreline.
Next, students re-boarded the buses and made their way up the coast to Santa Barbara. There they enjoyed dinner at various spots of their choosing: family-style Italian at Palazzio’s, burgers at The Habit, a local Lebanese restaurant, and others. Prefects then led students down State Street for shopping and ice cream.
At the end of the trip, all met up at Stearns Wharf for a group photo. Students prayed the Rosary in the buses on the way back to campus, where many then gathered for a voluntary study hall in St. Bernardine of Siena Library. “They were excited, but also a little nervous,” reports a prefect, about Monday morning’s class — the first of five devoted to Euclid!
Following Saturday night’s barbeque dinner was Open-Mic Night, a dazzling display of the great talent to be found among this year’s students! Each performance was beautiful, but for comedic value alone, prefects Martin McCann (’16) and Patrick Nazeck (’19) stole the show with their re-enactment of the Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye “Sisters” scene from White Christmas.
Afterward students gathered in front of the Chapel for a Rosary procession to the Lourdes Grotto, which prefects had prepared ahead of time with candles. Upon arriving at the grotto and completing the Rosary, the group fell silent, deep in prayer. The silence only broke several minutes later, when the students headed back toward the upper campus, singing hymns along the way.
In the remaining time before curfew, students returned to St. Joseph Commons for a movie, Cinderella Man.
Check in Monday for photos from Sunday’s trips to the beach and Santa Barbara!