It took just minutes for students from St. Augustine Academy in Ventura to show the world — at least, their part of it — how they felt about the election of a new pope.Soon after they had watched and prayed with Pope Francis, the 151-member student body (from grades kindergarten through 12) dashed outside where they waved flags of the Vatican, the U.S. and California, and hand-made celebratory banners. Numerous passers-by along Wells Road in east Ventura honked their horns as they smiled at the happy students, whose enthusiasm was clearly infectious.While the impromptu display of joy isn’t part of St. Augustine’s standard curriculum, “it is certainly in line with what the WCEA [Western Catholic Educational Association] has looked for in terms of increasing and demonstrating the Catholic identity of our schools,” said Michael Van Hecke, headmaster at the 17-year-old school, located across Highway 126 from Sacred Heart Church. “The students were genuinely excited to participate in this historical moment.”Students made their banners while they watched the EWTN broadcast from Rome in the school hall, where several teachers had been monitoring the broadcast.“As soon as white smoke appeared, it took — well, not many seconds for the students to gather in the hall,” smiled Van Hecke, a cofounder of St. Augustine Academy. “They made the banners, they cheered for the new pope when he was announced, and they prayed with him. And then off they went.”Ten miles east, news of the white smoke above St. Peter’s Square reached the Santa Paula campus of Thomas Aquinas College soon after 11 a.m. on March 13, and the bells in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel began ringing shortly thereafter. Immediately, some students rushed to St. Ignatius of Loyola Hall — fittingly, it would turn out, given the election of the first Jesuit pope — while others went to the Chapel for the mid-morning Mass. In the Chapel, they prayed for the new Holy Father, and in Loyola Hall, they watched for him.Before the Holy Father was announced, Mass had ended, and Loyola Hall was filled to capacity. Crowded around the television set, students cheered at the words “Habemus Papam,” and celebrated their first glimpse of the newest successor to Peter: His Holiness Pope Francis. Others heard the happy news through a lunchtime announcement in St. Joseph Commons.“The Thomas Aquinas College community rejoices at the election of Pope Francis, and we pledge our fidelity to the new Vicar of Christ and head of the Roman Catholic Church,” said Michael F. McLean, Thomas Aquinas College president. “We join with our fellow Catholics around the world in offering prayers of thanksgiving for our new Holy Father and in asking God to pour forth His graces and blessings upon Pope Francis as he begins his pontificate.”{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2013/0322/sbpope/{/gallery}