by Patrick Kuplack, ’21
Opening the semester with a whirlwind of activity that has hardly slowed since the beginning of classes, the Thomas More campus has been dancing, singing, hosting a juggling troupe, road tripping to Washington, D.C. for the March for Life, and medieval feasting, all in the name of truly liberal education. And now this weekend Spring Open House is upon us! Beginning on Sunday afternoon, the College will open its welcoming doors for the second time this academic year, hosting high school students from across the country (and sometimes the globe) to give them a brief taste of the joy and beauty of the liberal arts.
As with any college’s open house, the practical goal is to excite interest in the College and increase or maintain enrollment. While this is doubtless important and even necessary, this is not, however, the primary mission of the Open House. The chief interest lies not in numbers on a computer screen telling us how many bodies we need walking these halls to keep them lit; it is not about meeting a quota to ensure job security. If an institution of learning which claims dedication to truth, goodness, and beauty has cold and sterile numbers as its end, such a place “is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils,” to quote Shakespeare, and one ought not to walk, but run from it with all due haste. Thomas More takes the individual as such and shows him his place in the community—that is, if he is willing to accept that place. No one is lost in the bustle of excitement and activity. How could one remain unnoticed on a campus with only a hundred other people? The small size is to our advantage as students, as it guarantees more personal contact with professors and classmates, de facto establishing the necessary components for a vibrant yet edifying community life.
But what of Open House? When the ladies and gents arrive on Sunday afternoon, they will be greeted by a welcoming (though brisk) New England breeze and a cheerful smile. Upon being shown their rooms and given time to settle in and meet some students, introductions with faculty and staff will take place over ample refreshments in the Scholar’s Lounge. Chef Sam will have prepared a delightful banquet, and all will partake. The night begins to peak once dessert is served and the after-dinner entertainment commences in the library. A competition of the bards is the order of the evening!
Two members from each class will commit to memory a worthy poem—one comedic, the other more serious—and recite it before the assembled audience. In past years the College has roared with laughter at the recitation of Kipling’s The Betrothed, and listened with rapt attention as Hopkins’ The Wreck of the Deutschland was delivered. Wanting their selections to be a closely-guarded secret, the present competitors are anxiously awaiting Sunday night’s great reveal and their chance to win for their class the sash of victory and eternal glory! Once the laurels have been awarded, amidst clapping and cheers, the merriment will continue on into the evening, closing with Compline in the chapel.
Guests will spend the following day visiting different classes and getting a better feel for campus life on an average school day. The day closes with a final reception for both visitors and their parents and a farewell address from President Fahey.
We cannot wait to welcome new faces onto our campus to partake in our College traditions and be “one of the family,” for however brief a time. Granted, the floors might not always be glimmering like the wine-dark waves lapping against Odysseus’ ship, nor the meals always akin to the banquet table of the gods, but what we have is real and truly wonderful, and we are delighted to share it. Thomas More is a place and experience unlike any other.