My Summer Journey

Welcome! This page is dedicated to sharing the stories of our students and their journeys during the summer of 2015. Some attended conferences while others participated in mission trips or traveled to foreign countries. Enjoy!


Senior Tess Skehan expands knowledge of philosophy at Great Books Summer Program in California 

Tess Skehan (front row, third from left) with her classmates at the Great Books Summer Program.

Tess Skehan (front row, third from left) with her classmates at the Great Books Summer Program.

Below, Goretti senior Tess Skehan describes the two weeks she spent at Thomas Aquinas College in California participating in the Great Books Summer Program. Skehan said the experience allowed her to practice her Catholic faith, discuss various philosophical concepts and texts, and explore the southern California coast.  

By Tess Skehan

This summer I spent two weeks at Thomas Aquinas College in Southern California, affectionately nicknamed “TAC”. The small, Catholic college, located about thirty minutes from Santa Barbara, hosts the Great Books Summer Program every year to give rising seniors a taste of life at the school. Thomas Aquinas is a very unique college in several ways. It is incredibly small, with a student body of approximately four hundred students. Its curriculum is nontraditional, as it replaces lectures with Socratic seminars, and textbooks with original texts of ancient writers and philosophers. For example, in a philosophy class, instead of reading a textbook that explains the works of Plato, and then sitting in a lecture about the information, students read Plato’s work itself, and discuss its meaning. Its mission is to educate for the sake of benefiting the students intellect, a process described by one critic as, “learning for its own sake.”

I learned of the college through my grandfather, who likes to give support to small Catholic colleges around the country. He offered to send me to the summer program, and I was very excited when I was accepted. While the school’s unorthodox methods seemed a little odd, I was excited for the chance to travel across the country. However, my excitement waned as I began to imagine being forced to sit in a class, during the summer, with a group of people I had absolutely nothing in common with.

Chapel on the Thomas Aquinas College campus

Chapel on the Thomas Aquinas College campus

All my fears were put to rest after arriving on the beautiful Spanish-Mission style campus, where I met so many amazing people, all who admitted they had held the same reservations that I had. Every day, after waking up and going to breakfast, we attended class, where we discussed works such as Boethius’s The Consolation of Philosophy, Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, and Flannery O’Connor’s All that Rises Must Converge. After an hour and a half of fascinating and intellectually stimulating conversation, we would go to daily Mass, lunch, and then another class. Afterwards, we had several hours for recreation, such as volleyball, water polo in the ponds, or basketball, before dinner and study hall. Study hall was followed by rosary and more free time, which was spent talking in the coffee shop, playing intensely competitive card games, or looking through the school’s telescopes at Saturn. We also took trips to the beach, the Getty Art Museum, the Hollywood Bowl amphitheater, and downtown Santa Barbara.

“The two weeks I spent in California were the best experience of my entire life. Since I was a little girl, my Dad has always told me that you go to college to learn how to think. My two weeks at “college” did exactly that.”

Discussing ideas that had been debated for centuries with some of the smartest people I had ever met broadened my horizons and changed my perspective forever. I have never met so many well-rounded, interesting, and fun people who really wanted to learn. We all left campus with tears in our eyes. Only God knows where I will spend the next four years, but I will keep the memories, views, and friends I made at TAC forever.

Claire Murray, a senior at Goretti, attends mission trip in Haiti 

Claire Murray, class of 2016, spent a week this past July with three other Goretti students in Haiti on a mission trip. Below, she tells us about meeting the children at the Bible camp, what they taught her about life, and the lasting relationships she formed during the journey. One of her most memorable moments? On the last night of the trip, all of the teen counselors, American and Haitian alike, gathered to share favorite stories from the week. Murray says she will never forget how meaningful it was for the group to be able to communicate and understand one another despite the fact that neither spoke each other’s languages. 

Claire Murray with one of the children at the Haitian bible camp.

Claire Murray with one of the children at the Haitian bible camp.

By Claire Murray

This summer I had the opportunity to go on a mission trip to Dessalines, Haiti. This is an experience that I will always remember and treasure forever.  Being a parishioner at St. Ann’s and a student at St. Maria Goretti, I had heard of our sister parish, St. Claire, in Haiti on several occasions.  After hearing other students’ experiences from years past, I knew that this was something that would be life-changing for me.

Our first two days in Haiti, we were able to travel and experience some of the culture and beautiful scenery.  Our second day there was one of my favorites. Upon arriving at the camp where we would work for the next six days, all of the kids and Haitian teens were in a large group, singing a welcome song to us. The feeling this gave me was indescribable; I have never felt so loved by people whom I had never met before. When they were done singing, all of the 120 campers ran up to us and gave us the biggest hugs. I have never seen such big smiles in my entire life.  They were so welcoming and appreciative. The rest of the week, we worked at the summer camp each day. We taught four classes a day: Sports, Math and Science, Arts and Crafts, and Bible study. Each morning we started our day by performing a skit from the bible study that was incorporated into our activities for that day. I worked in the Arts and Crafts class. It was so much fun to see the creativity of all the children. It was amazing to see how appreciative the children were just to hold a crayon or have a sticker. After our exhausting day at the camp, we were treated to a delicious meal prepared by a few special ladies at the rectory.  Father Alexis , pastor of St. Claire,  was a wonderful host and made our stay at the rectory so enjoyable.

Our last night there is one of my favorite memories.  We played soccer with the kids in the pouring rain. I had never felt so carefree in my life; running around barefoot in a huge mud pit, falling and sliding in the puddles. Our last day was filled with tears and a lot of tough goodbyes.

“Going into this trip I expected to be teaching the children, but by the end, I realized they taught me things much bigger than anything I could’ve taught them.”

I built so many strong bonds with the children and teens and am so thankful to have met so many special people. I highly recommend serving others by participating in a mission trip. It exceeded all of my expectations and is something I will remember forever.

Goretti Senior Maitlin Curtin runs for “mayor” at Maryland Girls State conference

In the following post, Maitlin Curtin, class of 2016, recalls her experience in June participating in the Maryland Girls State conference at Salisbury University. Curtin was selected to attend the event after completing an application and interview with a representative of the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Maryland, which sponsors the conference. The week-long event is open to girls entering their senior year of high school and is focused on helping them better understand how a government operates. What was Curtin’s most memorable moment? Gaining a new skill set in public speaking after delivering a speech to over 120 girls in attendance at the conference. 

Maitlin Curtin (right) is joined by her suite mates at the 2015 Maryland Girls State.

Maitlin Curtin (right) is joined by her suite mates at the 2015 Maryland Girls State.

By Maitlin Curtin

Girls State was an amazing opportunity unlike any other. Every day we were on a strict time schedule to make things run as smoothly as possible. Depending on the floor on which we were staying, we all were split up among ‘cities’.  For example, I was on the third floor, so I was in Pleasant City. Then we were divided again by ‘counties’; I was in Chesapeake County. Every morning at 5:30 a.m. they offered work out sessions (including running) for those who wanted to exercise. When breakfast came around at 7:30 a.m., you could see how tired everyone was from the night before – whether they were staying up writing speeches for an office, decorating their hallways, making posters, or just spending time with their suite mates. Regardless of how tired everyone looked, you could see how excited all the girls were to start a new day.

Throughout each day, we would have guest speakers such as lobbyists and judges, and we would hear our fellow citizens’ speeches as to why they were qualified for office. Then we would vote. Each day we would vote for a different level of government starting at the City level and ending at the State level. I had the opportunity to run for mayor of Pleasant City and for Chesapeake County’s county executive.

“This hands-on experience helped me learn more about my government than I had ever expected.” 

I will always remember when the fire alarm went off at 11:00 p.m. and we took that time standing in the middle of the parking lot to do a remake of the Pitch Perfect song battle among cities. I will remember the songs that we learned, our epic dance battles to pass time, and, of course, the friendships I made. It was an amazing opportunity, and I am so happy that I went.