Summer Program Blog
Students greatly enjoyed this morning’s class and its discussion of Pascal’s “Wager.” The conversation focused on the terms of the wager and their implications — 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. A good many students attended the midday Mass immediately afterward.
At lunch students looked forward to this afternoon’s class, which will examine St. Thomas’s proof for the existence of God in the order of nature, complemented by the microcosm of that order on display in Jean Henri Fabre’s account of the life of the bee. Later this afternoon there will be recreation and altar-server training. Then, tonight is “Arts and Fire Night” — consisting of the highly anticipated production of Comedy of Errors, praying at the outdoor Stations of the Cross, and music and s’mores by the bonfire!
On Saturday morning, the group will take a long hike in the Los Padres National Forest. Look out for a post and photos later in the day.
Open Mic Auditions
Thursday afternoon’s class lived up to students’ expectations, with the discussion of Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling proving to be both challenging and illuminating. One student reported that, because the reading was so engrossing, her section had the most engaging and fruitful discussion to date.
All in all, the students seems to be getting a handle on the Discussion Method, with different personalities taking on certain roles in the class — e.g., one who asks questions, another who raises objections, and others who offers critical insights. Students have expressed gratitude for the tutors, who step in to right the conversation when it goes adrift, and who propose carefully chosen opening questions to launch the discourse.
The afternoon recreation period consisted, as usual, of various sports on the campus athletic fields, plus a spontaneous game of water polo in one of the campus ponds:
Meanwhile auditions continued for Saturday’s Open Mic night. “We have a lot of talented students here,” says women’s head prefect Sarah Dufresne. “There were a lot of guitars and a dueling pianists act. It looks like we are going to have a very good Open Mic Night.”
Next came study hall, during which students prepared for Friday’s classes by reading Pascal’s “Wager,” Fabre’s observations of bees, and the “fifth way” of St. Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologiae, which aims to prove the existence of God through order in nature. At nightly Rosary students were blessed with a “Holy Half Hour” — 30 minutes of exposition and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, preceded by a beautiful reflection on the Holy Eucharist from Fr. Sebastian. The chaplains offered confession during adoration, and many prefects and students alike availed themselves of Christ’s mercy, with lines forming for all three.
Afterward, the cast of The Comedy of Errors returned to St. Augustine Hall for a rehearsal, while a few students practiced swing dancing by the Guadalupe Fountain. Up in the campus coffee shop, prefect Andrew Rossi set up various board games. Admissions counselor Pat Cross and prefect Andrew Grimes, meanwhile, set up a picture-drawing station, with would-be artists’ posting their creations on the coffee-shop window. Below are some examples of their creations:
After curfew the priests once again paid a visit to the residence halls, where students enjoyed cheese and crackers before prayers and turning in for the night.
Foosball with Fr. Sebastian in the men’s residence hall
Despite their busy and late Wednesday night, a hearty group of Summer Program men arose early this morning for a sunrise hike. Led by prefects Matthew Plaisted and Matt Dugan, the crew crossed Ojai Road, climbed the hill overlooking the College campus, and returned — all before most of their peers ever got out of bed.
At this morning’s class the sections resumed yesterday’s conversation about Genesis. They pondered such questions as, “Was Cain angry with Abel, or angry with God?” “Did the Flood accomplish what it was supposed to in terms of wiping evil from the face of the earth?” Several sections then moved on to the second day’s readings and discussed God’s promises to Abraham and Abraham’s compliance with them. At lunch, students expressed excitement over this afternoon’s class, during which they will consider Abraham in a more philosophical sense based on their reading of Kierkegaard’s four variations of the story.
Toward the end of the lunch period, prefects hosted auditions for Saturday’s Open Mic night, including vocal numbers, piano duets, a guitar performance, two skits, and a dance. There will be more auditions later today, as well as afternoon recreation, dinner, and — at tonight’s Rosary — exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.
Wednesday night barbeque outside St. Joseph Commons
Wednesday afternoon’s volleyball tournament was, as predicted, exciting and competitive, “or fierce and exhausting,” as prefect Chris Sebastian describes it. Of course, Chris is probably just being gracious, as his team (“Team USA,” as it dubbed itself, co-captained by Cecilia Goyette) bested all others to make it to the championship round against the faculty squad. Alas, despite the encouraging chants of “USA! USA!” from fellow students, who surrounded the court, the team fell to the tutors in two close sets.
After the tournament, the group headed up to St. Joseph Square for a leisurely summer barbeque. From there it was study hall, with some students going to St. Bernadine of Siena Library, and others to St. Gladys Hall. The night’s readings were chapters 11 to 25 of Genesis and excerpts from Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling, specifically the Exordium and the Eulogy of Abraham — all in anticipation of Wednesday’s conversations about the nature of God’s promise to Abraham and the sacrifice of Isaac.
Study hall in St. Gladys Hall
Rosary in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel
When study hall concluded, the students prayed the Rosary in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel and then made their way back to St. Joseph Commons for the first of three planned dance classes. Prefect Dan Selmeczy led the instruction, aided by fellow prefect Aileen McCarthy. Students learned some basic steps for the merengue and swing, which they will put to use at the end-of-the-program dance next Friday.
At the end of the class, some students kept dancing; others retired to the coffee shop; and others met up at the arch in front of St. Gladys Hall for a Comedy of Errors rehearsal. The actors worked on their blocking, as well as their emotion and diction, in a mad rush to prepare for Friday’s much-anticipated performance.
The night ended back in the residence halls with pretzels, fire pits, and visits from the chaplains. Fr. Paul and Fr. Nick visited with the men, and Fr. Sebastian with the women. Then it was time for nightly prayers, lights out, and the end of Day 4 of the 2015 Summer Program.
A visit from Fr. Sebastian
Fire pit in the men’s courtyard
Tuesday began with breakfast and the morning class. Building on Monday’s discussion of piety in Plato’s Euthyphro, students considered issues of duty, law, fate, family, and the state in Sophocles’ Antigone. Then, before lunch, a photographer came by to get a photo of each class section — and one of the entire group — on the steps by the Guadalupe Fountain:
In the afternoons class, students examined the works of the pre-Socratic philosophers, contemplating questions of causality and nature. Afterward came the afternoon recreation period, highlighted by sports — volleyball, Frisbee, soccer, and basketball — hiking and swimming at the campus ponds, and picnic-blanket art projects with watercolors and markers.
At the same time, the Summer Program prefects held auditions for the upcoming student performance of Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors, drawing some 20 thespians to the student lounge. Aspiring actors re-enacted scenes from past performances, including songs and a stirring rendition of Marlon Brando’s “Stella” scene from A Streetcar Named Desire. The directors announced the roles for Comedy of Errors later that evening, after which the cast got together to watch a video of the play.
After dinner students prepared for Wednesday’s classes by reading the first 10 chapters of Genesis at study Hall. They then met in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel for the nightly Rosary:
A brief coffee-shop gathering followed, after which prefects hosted parties in the men’s and women’s residence halls. For the women, it was a peaceful night of ice-breakers, conversation, snacks, music, and dancing in their festively decorated courtyard. The men, meanwhile, found their common area transformed into a gladiatorial arena for a fierce tournament of whiffle-ball dodgeball, with the team captained by Chris Sebastian handily vanquishing those led by Patrick Cross, Andrew Rossi, and Anthony Maza. Afterward, the men gathered in the courtyard for an impromptu yet heartfelt singing of the National Anthem, and David Langley regaled them with a performance of some Scottish tunes and “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipe.
After prayers, it was lights out — and exhaustion! — at 11:30.
Fresh after sleeping off last night’s excitement, the students began today with the first 10 chapters of Genesis, from Creation to Noah. Prefects report that the students seem to be getting into the rhythm of the program and making progress with the Discussion Method. After class came lunch, during which all celebrated the birthdays of two “programmers,” Zach H. and Paulina R!
This afternoon is the highly anticipated volleyball tournament, in which prefect-led teams of students and chaplains battle for the chance to take on this year’s much-heralded tutor team. Afterward all will gather for a barbeque on the lawn outside St. Joseph Commons — unless, of course, it rains, in which case the festivities will move inside. After study hall there will be dance lessons and Shakespeare rehearsal. Stay tuned for pictures and updates tomorrow!
At Monday afternoon’s classes, students discussed Plato’s Euthyphro, from which they worked to construct a definition of piety and identify its general qualities. Next came the afternoon recreation period, which included all kinds of sports — volleyball, soccer, ultimate Frisbee, and basketball — despite the thick humidity, a rarity in Southern California. A few women wisely escaped the heat, however, at an art session that prefect Zoe Appleby led in the ladies’ residence hall:
After dinner in St. Joseph Commons, students met for study hall in St. Bernardine of Siena Library, where they prepared for Tuesday’s discussions of the pre-Socratic philosophers and Sophocles’ Antigone. Then it was time for the nightly Rosary in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel, followed by cards, board games, impromptu musical performances, iced mochas, and Italian sodas in the coffee shop, as well as a ping-pong tournament in the game room. After curfew, students returned to the their residence halls for a late-night snack of cheese and crackers, the resumption of the previous night’s foosball rivalries, and great conversations about the day’s classes.
The 2015 High School Program is under way!
Monday morning began with breakfast in St. Joseph Commons, followed by an academic orientation in St. Bernardine of Siena Library. The program’s director, Dr. Michael Augros, provided an overview of what students will be reading these next two weeks, tips for making the most of the Discussion Method, and introductions to this year’s tutors. After a welcome Mass in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel, the students then headed off for their first class — a discussion of Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, in which they considered the themes of fate, duty, and tragic flaws.
This afternoon: Plato’s Euthyphro …
Despite some uncharacteristic (and much needed) rain, the 2015 High School Summer Program is off to a tremendous start!
Attendees who were traveling from afar began to arrive at LAX around 11 a.m. on Sunday, where they were met by some 15 prefects. They then made their way to campus, and by 5:00 p.m. everyone had arrived, met their roommates, and toured the grounds. The rain, mercifully, held off until after the welcome barbeque in front of Saints Peter and Paul Residence Hall, but it certainly could be heard during the travelers’ Mass at 6:30 p.m. in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel.
After Mass all gathered in St. Bernardine of Siena Library for orientation, led by Admissions Director Jon Daly. There Daniel Selmeczy (’08) broke the ice with rousing and amusing (albeit entirely fanciful) introductions of his fellow prefects. Mr. Daly also took turns welcoming each student individually before the group.
The students and prefects then darted back toward their residence halls — dodging puddles and trying to avoid the downpour — for ice cream and quick introductory meeting with their prefects. After some conversations, foosball, and prayers, they settled in for a good night’s rest in preparation for their first day of classes.
The Summer Program Team
Most of the prefects have arrived on campus, and they are working with the Admissions staff on last-minute preparations for this year’s High School Summer Program.
With students due to arrive on Sunday, the prefects are readying rooms in the residence halls, distributing books, and setting up for the opening picnic. On Sunday they will be at Los Angeles International Airport, ready to greet arriving students and bring them to campus. They will be wearing these bright red T-shirts, so they should not be hard to spot!