For two weeks in July, 50 high school students from around the country were given the chance to be Christendom College students, as part of Christendom’s yearly High School Summer Program. Students, ages 15-18, from 23 different states, participated in the program from July 7-19. During the program the youths – led by 10 counselors, all Christendom students or alumni – were given a taste of life at Christendom College in this program, organized by the Christendom Admissions office.
The daily schedule was packed with enlightening and fun events, including classes in the mornings, attendance at daily Mass, and a variety of afternoon activities. The students were able to explore such subjects as Ethics, the Moral Imagination in Literature, American Political Thought, and Faith and Reason. In the classes, taught by Christendom’s own faculty, the participants delved into the works of Plato, Aristotle, and Thomas Aquinas. They discussed famous works of literature by Edgar Allen Poe and Catholic writer Graham Greene. The high-schoolers were also given a taste of politics, examining writings by great American political thinkers. Finally, Christendom College President, Dr. Timothy T. O’Donnell, and alumnus Fr. Tom Vander Woude, led the students in discussions about the Catholic faith, using apologetical works, along with a thorough examination of the Gospel of John.
While their mornings were spent engrossed in studying the Truth, guided by their excellent professors and the light of Faith and Reason, the afternoons and evenings were filled with fun recreational events. Students toured local attractions of the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, such as Luray Caverns and Skyline Drive; attended a professional musical production at Shenandoah University; and canoed the Shenandoah River. Longer trips included a trip to the Nation’s Capital, beginning with Mass at the National Basilica, and then tours of various cultural museums, along with a special tour of the John Paul II Cultural Center. They also loaded into the Christendom vans for a trip to Baltimore, Maryland, where they spent time in the Inner Harbor before making their way to Camden Yards for a Baltimore Orioles baseball game. Evening activities on campus included swing dance lessons, a talent show, and a barn dance at the home of Dr. O’Donnell.
While engaging their minds and hearts in the classroom and in recreation, the students came to a deeper love and understanding of their Catholic faith. Along with daily Mass, students gathered nightly for Rosary and Benediction, awakening a strong desire in them to cultivate their own spiritual lives. These convictions were reinforced in the numerous budding friendships that arose as they aided each other in the pursuit of Truth. As expected, the participants desire to continue these friendships in the environment in which they began, and hope to enroll in the four-year program at Christendom, where they may fully experience what they, up to this point, have only received a taste of for two weeks during the summer of 2002.