Summer Program Blog
In Wednesday afternoon’s class students continued their conversations about Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy. They considered the question of happiness and what is commonly thought to bring it about. Gradually, the sections worked their way through the text to the realization that those things we associate with happiness are but fragments of a larger, true happiness that can be found only in God.
During the recreation period, prefect Daniel Selmeczy led a second dance class, preparing students for tomorrow’s farewell gala. Chris reviewed the merengue and swing, adding a few new steps into the mix. As soon as the class ended, the group headed to the athletic field for a best-of-three prefects vs. students match of ultimate Frisbee, which the prefects won handily in two games, 10-4 and 10-1.
At study hall students prepared for today’s classes on Euclid and Boethius, after which they met up in the Chapel to pray the Rosary. Then 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 on all matters pertaining to the Faith. The topics included Holy Scripture, Purgatory, and sexual morality, and they led to further post-curfew discussions around the fire pits the residence-hall courtyards. Fr. Sebastian joined the men’s conversation, as did Fr. Paul the women’s, before leading students in their nightly consecration.
It was another great day — only two more to go!
As mentioned in the last post, after Mass and lunch yesterday, the students, prefects, chaplains, and a few tutors boarded four buses for Los Angeles and the Getty Museum. There they viewed world-renowned paintings, ancient Greek and Roman sculptures, illuminated manuscripts, and other works of art, including some by Monet, Van Gogh, and Renoir, as well as sketches by Da Vinci and Michelangelo. Students were especially impressed by Power and Pathos, an exhibit of rare, Hellenistic bronze sculptures of great emotional intensity. They also found time to take plenty of pictures around the museum’s 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, stopping briefly at a nearby park to consume a dinner of 60 pizzas. Upon entering the storied amphitheater, the students settled in for a concert by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, A Midsummer Night with Dudamel, named for the orchestra’s conductor and music/artistic Director, Gustavo Dudamel. The performance featured two works by Felix Mendelssohn, his Violin Concerto in E-minor and his score for William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Students delighted in the spirited performance — which included a dramatic reading of key lines from the play by Jurassic World star Bryce Dallas Howard — while 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. On the way back to campus, they prayed the Rosary, slept, and caught up on their reading. Then it was off to bed for some much-needed rest before Wednesday’s classes on Euclid’s Elements and Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy.
Fr. Nick distributes Holy Communion.
The tutors for the High School Summer Program report that, even though many students were a bit tired after yesterday’s trip to Los Angeles, they performed beautifully at this morning’s class. With poise and skill, they confidently approached the chalkboards and demonstrated propositions pertaining to side-side-angle and side-side-side congruency, as well as bisecting angles and lines.
Next came the morning Mass, after which students bid a fond farewell to Rev. Nick Blaha (’02), who has served as a chaplain for the program for these last 11 days. Fr. Nick, alas, is due back at Emporia State University, where he runs the Didde Catholic Campus Center. We will miss him greatly, but we are thankful for his generous service to our high school students. May God bless you, Fr. Nick!
After Mass came lunch, followed by the afternoon class, where students will resume Monday’s conversation of Boethius. Later this afternoon they can look forward to dance practice and an ultimate Frisbee match against the prefects, then dinner, study hall, and the daily Rosary. To cap off the evening, Fr. Sebastian will lead a session of “Theology on Float,” in which he will answer anonymous questions about the Faith while students feast on root beer and ice cream. Below is a photo of the questions box, which has been on display in St. Joseph Commons all week:
Come back tomorrow for more news and photos!
Summer Program students had great fun this morning, putting their newfound Euclidean knowledge to work by demonstrating propositions for their classmates. All their preparation seems to have paid off!
There is no afternoon class today. After Mass and lunch, the students boarded buses for nearby Los Angeles, where they will take in the art and the views at the Getty Center. Then they will go to the city’s famed Hollywood Bowl for A Midsummer Night with Dudamel, featuring works of Felix Mendelssohn.
Check back tomorrow for photos from the outing!
On Monday morning the students were back in the classroom, working out Euclid’s definitions, common notions, and postulates in lively discussions. They were coming to an understanding of the meaning of such terms as “line” and “point” in preparation for demonstrating Euclidean propositions on Tuesday.
At the afternoon class, after Mass and lunch, students discussed the first two books of Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy. Themes included what it means to be a man, the true causes of happiness, and the nature of fortune. “This is when students really get a taste for the College’s academic program,” says one prefect. “It’s a pivotal time.”
When the class came to an end, students filled the campus coffee shop to capacity for a lecture by College tutor Dr. John Nieto, “On Art and Beauty.” Dr. Nieto supplemented his remarks with a PowerPoint slideshow depicting many famous sculptures and paintings, several of which are at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, which the group will visit this afternoon.
Dr. John Nieto
In his lecture, Dr. Nieto explained St. Thomas Aquinas’s definition of beauty, advising students that, when they tour the Getty’s exhibits, they should examine every work for beauty’s three characteristics — integrity or unity, proportionality, and clarity. The talk was well received, giving the students a better understanding of how to approach various kinds of art.
After dinner the group met up in the coffee shop once more, where Admissions Director Jon Daly led an open forum for students who are interested in applying to Thomas Aquinas College. The Admissions staff answered questions about the College’s curriculum, teaching method, financial aid program, alumni, and various other subjects.
Admissions Director Jon Daly
Students spent the evening study period preparing the Euclidean propositions that they will be called to demonstrate in the next morning’s class. Prefects were on hand to help and encourage. Afterward came the nightly Rosary, which, for the first time, students led, rather than prefects.
The final event of the evening was a set of basketball games pitting the prefects against the students. Both the women’s and the men’s games were full of energy, with the players making amazing shots, blocks, and passes. There was also an intense battle of cheering on the sidelines, with the supporters keeping up the energy and fun. Both games were very close and competitive. In the women’s game, the students won 22-21. In the men’s match, it was the prefects who emerged triumphant, 26-23.
Fr. Sebastian leads the opening prayer.
The Women's Prefect Team
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 prepared for Monday’s classes by reading Euclid and Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy before heading off in four passenger buses for a day of adventure …
First stop: Rincon Beach, which is about a 45-minute drive from campus and surrounded by cliffs with a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean. Highlights of the trip included volleyball, swimming, surfing and snorkeling:
Next stop: Santa Barbara, where students 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, students and prefects gathered at Stearns Wharf for a group photo. In the buses on the way back to campus, the group prayed the Rosary, and upon returning to the campus, all were grateful to call it a night after a delightful — but full! — day.
Below is a photographic recap from Friday night — including the Admissions Barbeque, the production of Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors, and students’ praying alongside the College’s walkable Stations of the Cross:
Next, we have photos from Saturday’s punch bowls hike, which included an outdoor Mass offered by chaplains Rev. Nick Blaha and Rev. Paul Raftery, O.P.:
Finally, enjoy the following photos from Saturday’s Open Mic Night in St. Joseph Commons:
Below are a few photos from last night’s production of Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors. We will try to get up more later today!
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