Summer Program Blog
On Friday night the students of the Thomas Aquinas College 2012 High School Summer Program celebrated their last evening together — and the completion of this year’s program — with gratitude and elegance. First they gathered in St. Joseph Commons for a formal dinner, followed by Eucharistic Adoration in the Chapel, where they gave thanks to God for the many blessings He has bestowed upon them over these past two weeks. Then they headed back to the Commons for a celebratory dance, complete with dancing and student-produced entertainment, topped off with a 22-minute slideshow produced by the prefects.
Many students were up early Saturday morning to bid their friends a fond farewell. They began leaving the campus as early as 4:00 a.m. With tears, hugs, and promises to meet again, the students said goodbye. Reflecting back on the program, one student remarked that the time had flown by, with two weeks seeming more like a day.
The Admissions Staff looks forward to welcoming many of these students back to campus in the coming months. May God bless them!
Friday — one last day of Euclidean propositions, one last day of Boethius. Summer Program Director Dr. Michael Letteney opened his afternoon class with a quote from Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy, Prose 3: “There seems to be a hopeless conflict between divine foreknowledge of all things and freedom of the human will.” How does Lady Philosophy resolve this apparent conflict? Dr. Letteney noted that the discussion in today’s class was very lively, with questions ranging from divine foreknowledge to freedom and the place of prayer in God’s providential plan.
After class students received a few farewell gifts, including a College t-shirt, a book bag, and a collection of P.G. Wodehouse’ writings. They then headed outside, where they were treated to an unusual, but refreshing sight: a light Southern California thunderstorm crossing the mountains above the College, sprinkling the campus along the way. As this post is being written, the students are getting ready for tonight’s banquet, entertainment, and dance, with a video slideshow to follow.
The Summer Program staff — made up of both current students and graduates of the College — have remarked over the last two weeks at what a fine group of students attended this year’s program. We all very much look forward to keeping in touch, and to welcoming them back to visit the campus over the coming year.
We will have one final post with pictures of tonight’s entertainment and dance, and tomorrow’s goodbyes. For now, farewell, and God bless!
Thursday marked the penultimate day of classes and, with it, the sad realization that the 2012 High School Summer Program is quickly coming to an end. Eager to make the most of their remaining time on campus, the students took on their classes — Euclid and Boethius — with gusto, just as they did their recreation and social time.
After classes ended at 2:30 p.m., a small group went on a trail run led by tutor Brian Dragoo and admissions director Jon Daly. After the run, they joined the rest of the students at the ponds on the lower campus to watch greased-watermelon battles, in which teams of women, and then men, attempted to bring a greased watermelon across the pond and to the opposing team’s goal. This exhausting and hilarious activity was followed by a hearty dinner, then a final study period in the library and classrooms, where the students practiced their Euclidean propositions with the help of the prefects.
The group then gathered in front of the Chapel for a Rosary procession to the grotto, led by Chaplain Rev. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem. (’94). Upon arriving at the Lourdes Grotto, which had been set with candles beforehand, students finished the Rosary and prayed in silence before returning to St. Joseph Commons. There a good number joined in an impromptu dance while others played in the game room or visited in the Coffee Shop.
To conclude the evening, the gentlemen serenaded the ladies and presented them with chocolates. The ladies returned the kindness with freshly baked cookies. The students then returned to their respective residential courtyards where they enjoyed fresh grilled hot dogs. Fr. Sebastian led an impromptu fireside chat in Sts. Peter and Paul Hall, discussing the origins of the priesthood and answering other questions raised by the students.
Students awoke and moved quickly to breakfast Wednesday morning, and then returned to the chalkboards for the second day of Euclidean demonstrations. Overall the proofs went well, and the classes were lively. Following Euclid, Mass, and lunch, students went to their first class on Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy.
The afternoon was quiet — a few swam in the campus ponds, a few played volleyball, and many, we think, took well-deserved naps. After dinner, study, and Rosary, Open Mic Night took place in St. Joseph Commons. There were many spectacular performances, from “Ave Maria” to several guitar numbers written and performed by one of the students. Finally, at the end of the evening, prefect Sean O’Neal grabbed a guitar and announced that he would play “one of the greatest oldies,” the chorus of which went, “Go to bed! Go to bed! Go to bed!” The students and prefects then walked back to their residence halls, where they feasted on soft pretzels before retiring for the night.
Tuesday morning classes began at 9:30 a.m. with students demonstrating their first Euclidean propositions on the chalkboards for their classmates. Though many were nervous about approaching the board for the first time, the general consensus was that the propositions went well. With the ice now broken, they should go even better through the end of the week!
After class, Mass in the Chapel, and a quick lunch, the students boarded buses for the Getty Center Museum in Los Angeles. There they enjoyed a spectacular collection of paintings, sculptures, tapestries, and illuminated manuscripts. At about 5:00 p.m. the group re-boarded the buses for a trip to the Hollywood Bowl, where all enjoyed pizza and other refreshments. They then settled in for an excellent concert under the stars that featured Brahms’ 2nd Piano Concerto and Elgar's "Enigma Variations." The concert ended fairly late (about 10:30 or so), at which time students returned to campus and went to sleep to be well-rested for Wednesday's classes — more Euclid in the morning and Boethius in the afternoon.
On Monday morning the students were back in the classroom, working out Euclid’s definitions, common notions, and postulates in lively discussions. After the morning class and just before Mass, they met for an open forum with the Admissions Office staff, who answered questions about the College’s curriculum, teaching method, financial aid program, alumni, and various other subjects. Students then enjoyed each other’s company over lunch, and in the afternoon found themselves engaged in a discussion of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, which they had read on Friday night as a group.
In the afternoon there was time for some quick games of ultimate Frisbee and basketball before tutor Dr. John Nieto’s talk on Art & Beauty. The talk was so widely attended that students filled the Coffee Shop to capacity, with some opting to enjoy the breeze outside and watch through the windows. Dr. Nieto had prepared both written remarks and a PowerPoint slideshow of famous sculptures and paintings, many of which are at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, which the group will visit on Tuesday. The talk was well-received, giving the students a better understanding of how to approach various kinds of art.
After dinner students spent the evening study period preparing the Euclidean propositions that they will be called to demonstrate for the class the next morning. Prefects were on hand to help and encourage. Afterwards many gathered in the Chapel for the nightly Rosary.
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 three-point shots, blocks, and passes, and playing as if they had been together for a whole season. There was also an intense battle of cheering on the sidelines, with the supporters keeping up the energy and fun. Both games were close and well-played, but the prefects managed to stay ahead for the wins. A great time for all!
After Sunday Mass — accompanied by the beautiful College Choir at 9:00 a.m. — students filled themselves with a hearty brunch, then moved to the library for a study period to prepare for Monday’s classes on Euclid and Macbeth. The study period came to a close shortly after noon, at which time students gathered their things and boarded buses, bound for a glorious day at the beach.
After arriving at Carpinteria State Beach, students lathered up with sunscreen and joined in games of Frisbee and volleyball. At about 4:00 p.m all gathered for roll call, then jumped aboard the buses once more for a trip to Santa Barbara’s State Street.
Upon arriving, prefects took smaller groups of students to dinner at restaurants up and down the street. About half of the group ate at a favorite among Thomas Aquinas College’s students, Palazzio’s, where they delighted in the bella mia penne and other delicious dishes. Other students opted for Mexican food at Chipotle. And almost everyone saved room for frozen yogurt and ice cream.
After an evening of shopping, picture-taking, singing, and good fun, students met up at Stearns Wharf, where they gathered for a group picture in front of the Wharf's famous dolphin fountain before boarding the buses. After praying the Rosary on the bus, some students dozed off while others enjoyed friendly conversation on the way back to campus.
Saturday dawned clear and bright … and somewhat slowly for a few tired souls! A good number of students (about 100) arose early to hike up to the Punch Bowls, a collection of spring-fed, natural pools about two miles above the campus. Led by a group of prefects, many jumped into a swimming hole for a hearty and refreshing swim before coming back down the beautiful canyon.
Later that afternoon students met up again on the athletic field for a barbeque and some pickup games of volleyball and soccer. From 7:30 to 8:30 p.m., Chaplain Rev. Cornelius M. Buckley, Buckley, S.J., led a well-attended Holy Hour, during which there was silent meditation, a group rosary, confession, and Adoration and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. Then students came together on the back patio for some popcorn, candy, and a movie — a great classic, The Sandlot. Other students began a spontaneous dance lesson in the Commons, practicing their new swing abilities.
The night ended peacefully, with students looking forward to the next day’s trip to Carpinteria State Beach and Santa Barbara’s famous State Street.
Friday was another great day! Students had prepared for two classes. The first was about French naturalist J. Henri Fabre’s The Bees, through which one gets more than a glimpse of the inherent beauty and order of nature. The second was about St. Thomas Aquinas’ fifth proof for the existence of God, in which students examined the distinction between an evil act and the good which God necessarily draws from it.
After recreation and dinner, students returned to the library for a dramatic reading of Macbeth. The prefects all agreed that this particular reading was one of the best — if not the best — that they had ever seen. At the end of each act, the prefects put on a satiric interpretation of what had just transpired in the play, adding social commentary to the tragedy.
When the play was done, students headed to the Chapel to recite the rosary, and then down to a grassy area near one of the spring-fed ponds to enjoy ice-cream sandwiches and to sing songs around a campfire. To close the evening the students joined in a heartfelt round of "Amazing Grace," made all the stronger and more poignant by prefect David Langley's bagpipe accompaniment.
There have been calls for another fire and music night … we’re going to see if we can pull it off!
After their final class on Genesis about the role of faith in God’s command to Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, the students further explored the nature of faith in Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling. Among the questions considered were, “Where does reason end and faith begin?” and “Is faith rational?”
Following afternoon sports, the evening study period in the library, and a rosary in the Chapel, chaplain Rev. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem., ('94) held a (root beer) "Theology on Tap" in the coffee shop. There he answered students’ questions about theology, philosophy, morality, and a number of other topics. For example, one student asked how evil is permissible in a world governed by an Infinite Good. Another student asked, “What are the best and worst parts about Thomas Aquinas College?” Fr. Sebastian replied, “The best part is the education; the worst is leaving when you’re done after four years.”