Exploring the Fine Line Between Good and Evil


Dr. Barmore connects philosophers to All the King’s Men, a novel exploring human nature and the bounds of morality.

Eamon Mohrbacher, Staff Writer

Being a senior means taking on leadership and responsibility, while also receiving fun perks and special experiences, such as the chance to take a Senior Seminar. Prep’s course catalogue explains that the seminars are “multi-disciplinary, team-taught courses that focus on applying the theological principles they have learned on real-world issues towards the goal of becoming advocates for peace and justice, and men and women for others.”

Veteran teacher Dr. Barmore and Jesuit priest Fr. Celio work together to plan and teach the Good and Evil Senior Seminar. Fr Celio began, “Our Good and Evil class combines the study of literature, philosophy, theology, and Ignatian spirituality into one conversation about the purpose of life, the obstacles that get in the way of living a good life, and the decisions that we might make, with God’s help, to live our best life.”

Aimed at giving the students a chance to reflect on human nature and society as a whole, the Good and Evil course often provides an eye-opening point of view for many students as they learn to reflect on their own values.
According to Dr. Barmore, “Senior Seminar was established to focus on the Grad-at-Grad characteristics.”

These characteristics are traits that Prep students strive to achieve by graduation. Senior Seminar supports this goal. Fr. Celio explained, “One way that we engage the Grad at Grad characteristics in our Good and Evil class is through prayer and reflection on how the seniors relate to those characteristics right now and how they’ve grown in those areas during their time at Prep….Wrapping one’s mind around different philosophies, for example, does a lot to encourage growth and intellectual competence.”

Classes such as Good and Evil challenge students to think in new ways. Rose Kennedy ’23 elaborated, “There is truly no one prescribed idea taught to be correct or true, but rather students are encouraged to come to their own conclusions about different ideas.” Kennedy continued, “In all parts of the class, we are searching for concepts of good versus evil, right vs wrong, truth vs lie, and using these examples to help us draw conclusions on what we believe are the definitions of good and evil….Students voice their opinions on different moral dilemmas or controversial ideas.” She concluded, “The biggest real-life connections I’ve made in Good and Evil are patterns in human nature…. Understanding tendencies in humans and why they do the things they do is incredibly valuable information for any senior about to step into the world of college and beyond.”

As a result of taking this course, students come to realize that there is sometimes a fine line between good and evil. Beginning to explore complex, philosophical ideas like this opens the mind to different types of reason. Fr. Celio shared, “My sense is that theology classes at Prep progress from more focus on the Christian tradition as freshmen and sophomores, to reflection on how to act as persons for and with others, inspired by faith. In this sense, senior seminar classes take the next step in that direction.”

Dr. Barmore added, “Our hope is that students have had an opportunity to reflect on human nature, their own nature within that context, and what that means for them in both moving forward and in their relationship with [and] to God.” Good and Evil, Barmore concluded “is a great capstone class. The various Senior Seminar classes, in different ways, invite students to reflect over their experiences at Prep and envision how they want to live moving forward”

Whether students gain perspective, receive guidance on how to make decisions in their lives, or simply enjoy the discussions with their classmates and teachers, the Good and Evil Senior Seminar, and all four of these special classes, offer unique opportunities for enrichment of the mind. Participating in these classes allow the seniors to depart from the school with the Grad-at-Grad characteristics firmly in place.