Summer Program Blog

Summer Program Blog

Cardinal Newman Society logoToday’s edition of the Cardinal Newman Society’s Catholic Education Daily blog features an article about the College’s High School Great Books Program. “The summer program,” writes author Kathryn Zagrobelny “is designed to encourage students to pursue truth and wisdom and experience student life at Thomas Aquinas College.”

If you are a high school junior, and you would like to spend two weeks in Southern California this summer — reading great books, deepening your faith, considering important questions, making lifelong friends, and having lots of fun — then apply now for this year’s program!


Sarah Rivera (’17)Sarah Rivera (’17) may not have composed a song about the High School Summer Program, but at the most recent meeting of the College’s Board of Governors, she talked about how those two weeks on campus changed her life. Below is an excerpt from her address:

“My Thomas Aquinas College experience started in an unorthodox way. I had not even heard of the College until my junior year of high school. I was looking at some big state schools and some Catholic schools, and I was seriously considering Princeton and Harvard. To further my chances of getting into these schools, I wanted to do a college summer program between my junior and senior years in high school. So I googled ‘programs for high school students at colleges,’ and then scrolled through pages of search results. On page 23 was TAC. I saw that the application was short, so I fired it off and moved on.

“I was accepted to both TAC’s summer program and Harvard’s, but Harvard’s cost around $10,000, so my parents said, ‘You’re going to TAC!’ At that point I took another look at this college to see where I would be spending two weeks. I saw ‘Socratic Method,’ and didn’t even know what that was. I saw that the College offered the Latin Mass, and I freaked out a little bit. I got a packet in the mail that spoke about a dress code, and I freaked out a little more. This was like nothing I had ever experienced. I told my parents I wasn’t going. They used their parental authority and said, ‘Yes, you are.’

“So I came to the Summer Program and something totally unexpected happened: I fell in love with this school. The texts we read and the classes were amazing. My tutors were bringing up ideas that I never would have come up with on my own. And then my classmates also began to think of and draw new notions out of the text. Whenever the tutor asked a question, there would, at first, be silence, but then we would realize that it was up to us to think through the matter for ourselves. It was, indeed, like nothing I had ever experienced..

“Then there was the joy of being immersed in the spiritual community of the College, to see students who were alive in their faith, who were making use of the Sacraments, who really cared about what we were learning. These weren’t the boring, stuffy people I was expecting. They were smart, friendly, and attractive people who were going to go out into the world and do good things. To see that there was a place that was fostering such people, almost as its mission, was life-changing.”

Care to join this year’s Summer Program? Apply now while space is still available!


Clara Diodati (’17)Plans are already under way for the 2015 High School Summer Program, and the College is assembling a team of prefects. Among them will be Clara Diodati (’17), who attended the program in 2012, the summer before her senior year in high school. Back then, Miss Diodati had serious doubts about whether she wanted to apply to the College — doubts that vanished over the course of the program. When the two weeks were over, she returned to her Georgia home, and wrote a song about her experience:

The song, TAC Chose Me, is “about how my perception of the school changed,” Miss Diodati writes, and “how the program and all the people there made me fall in love with it.” Consider this sampling from the lyrics:

We bonded over ancient readings, studied Euclid when we’d rather be sleeping.
That kind of friendship, it doesn't happen overnight, but it can happen in two weeks, only if you’re at TAC, only if you're at TAC.

You can listen to the song through the player below:

Care to join this year’s Summer Program? Apply now while space is still available!


August 05,
2014

2014 Summer Program Prefects

This morning some of the 2014 High School Summer Program prefects who are still on campus gathered to say goodbye to Head Prefect Kathleen Sullivan (’06), who is returning to Washington, D.C., where she is a PhD candidate in literature at the Catholic University of America. Kathleen began working on the Summer Program in 2005, when she was still a student at the College. She has just completed her 10th program as a prefect!

Last year, in a reflection about the Summer Program, she remarked:

“In the great books program, by encountering the original thoughts and minds of the thinkers of the past, these young students are both enabling their minds to think rationally and training their minds to communicate clearly. Freeing themselves from the shackles of ignorance, especially in the faith-filled atmosphere of the College, these young students become more aware of their purpose in life, become more certain in their hope for a life eternal, and become more eager to live a rational, moral, and ethical life — to live the good life.”

Thank you, Kathleen, for your decade of generous and dedicated service — for helping these young men and women to live the good life! May God bless you on your way.


August 02,
2014

Starting at the crack of dawn this morning — about 4:45 a.m. — the 2014 Summer Program students began departing campus to make their way back home. Having forged close friendships over the last two weeks, the students had to fight back tears when saying goodbye to one another.

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    Slideshow: Saying Goodbye
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    Slideshow: Saying Goodbye
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    Slideshow: Saying Goodbye
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    Slideshow: Saying Goodbye
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    Slideshow: Saying Goodbye
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    Slideshow: Saying Goodbye
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    Slideshow: Saying Goodbye
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    Slideshow: Saying Goodbye
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    Slideshow: Saying Goodbye

Before they left, the students presented a thank-you card to Admissions Director Jon Daly, whose tireless efforts make the Summer Program possible. Below are just a few of the students’ comments:

“You made this an unforgettable two weeks, and I’m still super stoked that we went 9-3 in the roll call race.”
— Tom G.

“I’d write a big, long speech thanking you for everything you did for us, but it would end up being a thesis!”
—Rebecca M.

“Thank you so much!!! These were the best two weeks of my life.”
— Ryan U.

“I’m more grateful than I can say. Thank you!”
—Tim G.

Thanks be to God for a great two weeks! It is sad to see our Summer Program students go. By God’s grace, many of them will return as members of the Thomas Aquinas College Class of 2019!


Photos from last night’s banquet and dance!

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    Slideshow: Banquet and Dance
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    Slideshow: Banquet and Dance
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    Slideshow: Banquet and Dance
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    Slideshow: Banquet and Dance
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    Slideshow: Banquet and Dance
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    Slideshow: Banquet and Dance
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    Slideshow: Banquet and Dance
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    Slideshow: Banquet and Dance
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    Slideshow: Banquet and Dance
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    Slideshow: Banquet and Dance
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    Slideshow: Banquet and Dance
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    Slideshow: Banquet and Dance
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    Slideshow: Banquet and Dance
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    Slideshow: Banquet and Dance
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    Slideshow: Banquet and Dance
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    Slideshow: Banquet and Dance
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    Slideshow: Banquet and Dance


August 01,
2014

At their last classes on Friday, the students tackled Proposition 32 from Euclid’s Elements, then contemplated the significance of the title of Flannery O’Connor’s short story “The Enduring Chill.” During recreation time, most either played in or watched the student-prefect soccer game, making the most of their final hours on campus. All are eagerly looking forward to tonight’s banquet and dance.

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    Slideshow: The Last Day
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    Slideshow: The Last Day
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    Slideshow: The Last Day
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    Slideshow: The Last Day
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    Slideshow: The Last Day
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    Slideshow: The Last Day
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    Slideshow: The Last Day
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    Slideshow: The Last Day
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    Slideshow: The Last Day
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    Slideshow: The Last Day
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    Slideshow: The Last Day
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    Slideshow: The Last Day

After classes the prefects gave the students some goodbye presents, mementos of the last two weeks: a Thomas Aquinas College book bag containing a copy of C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters plus framed photos of the entire group and each student’s section. You can see those photos in the slideshow below.

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    Slideshow: The 2014 Summer Program Sections
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    Slideshow: The 2014 Summer Program Sections
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    Slideshow: The 2014 Summer Program Sections
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    Slideshow: The 2014 Summer Program Sections
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    Slideshow: The 2014 Summer Program Sections
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    Slideshow: The 2014 Summer Program Sections
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    Slideshow: The 2014 Summer Program Sections
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    Slideshow: The 2014 Summer Program Sections
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    Slideshow: The 2014 Summer Program Sections

Check this blog on Saturday for dance and goodbye pictures. It’s hard to believe the program is coming to an end!


On Thursday afternoon, the penultimate day of the 2014 Summer Program, most of the men, joined by Fr. Sebastian, the prefects, and even some of the College’s student workers, played in a 3-on-3 basketball tournament on the campus courts. Other students took to the volleyball and tennis courts, or spent the time socializing with their many new friends. And a group of some 30 ladies ventured into Santa Paula, where they scoured the shops for clothes to wear to Friday night’s soiree, then paid a visit to a local coffee shop.

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    Slideshow: Trip to Santa Paula
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    Slideshow: Trip to Santa Paula
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    Slideshow: Trip to Santa Paula
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    Slideshow: Trip to Santa Paula
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    Slideshow: Trip to Santa Paula
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    Slideshow: Trip to Santa Paula
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    Slideshow: Trip to Santa Paula
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    Slideshow: Trip to Santa Paula
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    Slideshow: Trip to Santa Paula
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    Slideshow: Trip to Santa Paula
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    Slideshow: Trip to Santa Paula
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    Slideshow: Trip to Santa Paula
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    Slideshow: Trip to Santa Paula
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    Slideshow: Trip to Santa Paula

That evening, history was made in the final study hall. Every night throughout the Summer Program, Admissions Director Jon Daly and one of the prefects engage in a friendly race to see who can complete roll call more quickly. (To see how the race works, watch the video from last year’s program, below.)

In all the years of the Summer Program, Mr. Daly — an accomplished roll-caller — has never lost twice in row. But it happened for the first time on Thursday evening, when Prefect Christopher Sebastian (’13) bested him for the second consecutive night. The student is now the master …

After study hall and Rosary, all gathered in St. Joseph Commons. The prefects conducted a brief review of the dance steps that students have been learning, followed by some spirited Bollywood line dancing. “I don’t want this to end,” one student lamented, echoing the sentiments of many.

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    Slideshow: Coffee and Dancing in the Commons
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    Slideshow: Coffee and Dancing in the Commons
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    Slideshow: Coffee and Dancing in the Commons
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    Slideshow: Coffee and Dancing in the Commons
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    Slideshow: Coffee and Dancing in the Commons
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    Slideshow: Coffee and Dancing in the Commons
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    Slideshow: Coffee and Dancing in the Commons
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    Slideshow: Coffee and Dancing in the Commons
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    Slideshow: Coffee and Dancing in the Commons
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    Slideshow: Coffee and Dancing in the Commons
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    Slideshow: Coffee and Dancing in the Commons

However, “the best part of the night,” as one observer put it, came after curfew. The women, who had filled their common room for a poetry recital, were surprised by a strange sound coming from outside. When they listened more carefully, they discovered it was … singing. They rushed to the doorway to see, standing just beyond the patio, the Summer Program men, led by Prefect Andrew Rossi (’13) — all dressed in their Sunday best, bearing roses and chocolates. The ladies, Head Prefect Kathleen Sullivan (’06) reports, “absolutely melted.”

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    Slideshow: Poetry Recital & Serenade
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    Slideshow: Poetry Recital & Serenade
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    Slideshow: Poetry Recital & Serenade
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    Slideshow: Poetry Recital & Serenade
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    Slideshow: Poetry Recital & Serenade
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    Slideshow: Poetry Recital & Serenade
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    Slideshow: Poetry Recital & Serenade
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    Slideshow: Poetry Recital & Serenade
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    Slideshow: Poetry Recital & Serenade
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    Slideshow: Poetry Recital & Serenade

 


students read on academic quadrangle

At Wednesday afternoon’s recreation period, students could be seen playing various sports: A tennis tournament was under way on the campus courts, with the winner to be determined Thursday. Triads of young men formed squads and practiced for Thursday’s 3-on-3 basketball tournament. Volleyball teams clashed on the sand courts. And soccer enthusiasts prepared for Friday’s match pitting the students against the prefects.

The sporting events were followed by a brief dance class in anticipation of Friday’s soiree. Then the College bookstore briefly opened its doors to a rush of student customers looking to pick up some mementos of their nearly finished time on campus. From there it was dinner and study hall, with students once again being excused early to work on their Euclidean propositions. The students remain as smitten with Euclid as ever, boasting of the number of alternative proofs they have been able to devise. One young woman even used her newfound geometrical skills and a necklace to construct a compass in her residence hall!

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    Slideshow: Tennis, Theology & Consecration
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    Slideshow: Tennis, Theology & Consecration
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    Slideshow: Tennis, Theology & Consecration
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    Slideshow: Tennis, Theology & Consecration
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    Slideshow: Tennis, Theology & Consecration
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    Slideshow: Tennis, Theology & Consecration
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    Slideshow: Tennis, Theology & Consecration
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    Slideshow: Tennis, Theology & Consecration
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    Slideshow: Tennis, Theology & Consecration
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    Slideshow: Tennis, Theology & Consecration

Following the nightly Rosary in the Chapel, students made their way over to the coffee shop for root-beer floats and a pint of theology, courtesy of Rev. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem. (’94). Having collected questions beforehand, Fr. Sebastian addressed students’ queries on a range of topics that included faith, morality, natural law, and the ways grace builds upon nature. He also allowed for follow-ups, leading to a lively and thoughtful conversation.

At curfew time, the students returned to the residence halls for a wide array of snacks — chips, salsa, guacamole, soft pretzels and, in the women’s hall, a birthday cake for prefect Maggie Conklin (’17) — and nightly consecration. Fr. Sebastian paid visits to both the men and the women, answering more questions about the Faith by the courtyard fire pits.

With that, Wednesday drew to a close as, sadly, the Summer Program will all too soon …


In class Tuesday morning, students got a chance to show off their talents for demonstrating Euclidean propositions. They were surprised, they reported, at how complex they now regarded questions that they once considered simple, such as, what is a point? The class was over at 10:30 a.m., but Euclid remained on their minds all day.

Indeed, when they headed up the Pacific Coast after lunch for a day trip to Rincon Beach, several students playfully demonstrated props in the sand! Of course, they also enjoyed more conventional beach activities, such as snorkeling (and seeing baby leopard sharks), sunbathing, swimming, building sandcastles, boogie-boarding, and playing Frisbee and volleyball.

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    Slideshow: Beach trip
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    Slideshow: Beach trip
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    Slideshow: Beach trip
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    Slideshow: Beach trip
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    Slideshow: Beach trip
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    Slideshow: Beach trip
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    Slideshow: Beach trip
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    Slideshow: Beach trip
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    Slideshow: Beach trip
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    Slideshow: Beach trip
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    Slideshow: Beach trip
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    Slideshow: Beach trip
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    Slideshow: Beach trip
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    Slideshow: Beach trip
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    Slideshow: Beach trip
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    Slideshow: Beach trip
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    Slideshow: Beach trip
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    Slideshow: Beach trip
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    Slideshow: Beach trip

At the end of the afternoon, the men and the women piled into separate buses, changed their clothes, and made the short trip farther up the coast to Santa Barbara. There they split into several groups and enjoyed dinner at a number of the city’s restaurants. While waiting for their food, several students couldn’t resist demonstrating yet more props on their paper tablecloths!

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    Slideshow: Santa Barbara
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    Slideshow: Santa Barbara
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    Slideshow: Santa Barbara
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    Slideshow: Santa Barbara
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    Slideshow: Santa Barbara
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    Slideshow: Santa Barbara
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    Slideshow: Santa Barbara
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    Slideshow: Santa Barbara
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    Slideshow: Santa Barbara
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    Slideshow: Santa Barbara
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    Slideshow: Santa Barbara
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    Slideshow: Santa Barbara
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    Slideshow: Santa Barbara
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    Slideshow: Santa Barbara
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    Slideshow: Santa Barbara
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    Slideshow: Santa Barbara
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    Slideshow: Santa Barbara
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    Slideshow: Santa Barbara
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    Slideshow: Santa Barbara
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    Slideshow: Santa Barbara
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    Slideshow: Santa Barbara
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    Slideshow: Santa Barbara
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    Slideshow: Santa Barbara

 

Three students, who are also talented jugglers, wowed passersby on Santa Barbara’s historic State Street:

 

After dinner some students bought ice cream; others did some shopping, and all returned to the buses at 9:00 p.m. They prayed the Rosary on the ride back to the College, arriving just before curfew. The students then retired for the evening … with visions of propositions dancing in their heads.