by Patrick Kuplack, ’21
The Spring Open House of Thomas More College commenced last Sunday afternoon, as no fewer than thirty prospective students—many accompanied by parents and siblings—made the trek to our welcoming winter campus. Whether driving from Connecticut or flying from California, these young men and women traveled considerable distances to get a taste of the academic, social, and spiritual life at our small Catholic liberal arts college. After they were introduced to their various hosts and shown their rooms, a reception was hosted in honor of our guests in the Scholar’s Lounge. The Student Council did a wonderful job accentuating the already inviting atmosphere of bookshelf-lined walls and wing-backed chairs by adding soft lighting, a variety of displays outlining the College’s Guild programs and collegiate life, and of course ample warm beverages and appetizers, making the event conducive to wholesome conversation between visitors, professors, and current students.
President William Fahey gave a warm welcome to the potential collegians, reminding them that Thomas More is here to help them in their discernment regardless of whether or not they ultimately decide to attend the College. Still, President Fahey expressed his delight that much of the company were returning to the campus after attending either a summer program or a previous open house, a testament to the quality experience to be had Thomas More.
The merry company then made their way to the dining hall for the evening’s formal banquet, where the mouth-watering smell of Chef’s turkey dinner permeated the air. Once Fr. Healey blessed the meal and all were seated with plates full of meat, potatoes, and delicious bread made by one of our very own freshman, Anika DeMaster, Dr. Denis Kitzinger, Dean of Students, rose to give the customary faculty toast. Armed with a copy of Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy, Dr. Kitzinger expounded the friendship between philosophy and poetry, quoting a beautiful passage spoken by Lady Philosophy to emphasize his point. The toast met with resounding applause. The conversation continued for a space until the evening’s Poetry Pub was announced, and all returned to the Scholar’s Lounge to eagerly await the “battle of the bards.”
For the Poetry Pub, two representatives from each class (excepting the Sophomores, who are currently studying in Rome) volunteer to recite one serious and one comedic poem for the assembled company. Two faculty judges, Mr. Fred Fraser and Dr. Amy Fahey, evaluate the performances and award the famed “scarves of glory” (embroidered with the years of past winners) as the prize to the victorious class. This year, after several impressive performances, the Seniors were awarded the laurels. Senior Mr. Aiden O’Connor masterfully delivered the side-splittingly funny piece, Tis Folly to Be Wise, by P.G. Wodehouse, and the enchanting Miss Sophie Divozzo held her audience spellbound as her lilting voice sang the tragic tale of The Twa Sisters, a traditional Scottish ballad. Amidst wild cheers of approval at the verdict, the judges bestowed the scarves upon the champions.
A final hand was raised for all the contestants; dessert was served; the folk music commenced! The library foyer rang with the raucous blend of voices, violins, guitars, bodhrán, and even the drone of the highland bagpipes, as the “Thomas More traditionals” were sung into the night.
The next morning, visitors had a full day ahead of them. The Academic Dean, Mr. Jay Thompson, spoke on the liberal arts curriculum at Thomas More College. The guests then sat in on the Junior Humanities class, where Dr. Sara Kitzinger explored Kant’s What is Enlightenment? with the students. Confessions, Mass, and lunch preceded an afternoon of two more sessions with Resident Director Mr. Daniel Leahy and Dr. Patrick Powers, respectively. The whirlwind day ended with a visit to Mercy Hall, the College’s beaux arts mansion, for a coffee hour and farewell remarks from Executive Vice President Paul Jackson.
Our Open House guests were thus treated to a bird’s-eye view of Thomas More College: the demanding academics, the vibrant student body, the festivity, the song—but most importantly, the Catholic identity that guides and permeates all aspects of collegiate life. The life of a Thomas More student is indeed beautiful and unique; we hope that those who have now returned home think so, too, and we look forward to seeing some familiar faces in the Fall!