Spring semester begins soon at Bangor-area Senior College

Posted Feb. 08, 2011, at 9:12 p.m.

Spring is in the air. OK, maybe not. But regardless of how much snow has piled up around your house, the spring semester of classes offered by the Penobscot Valley Senior College starts on Friday, March 4, and runs through April 8.

Just like our homes, our brains need spring cleaning — out with the old and in with the new. There is no better way to achieve this goal than to take a Senior College course.

PVSC is about personal growth and fulfillment. Learning for the fun of it is the unofficial motto of the Penobscot Valley Senior College.

Affiliated with the UMaine Center on Aging, PVSC is one of 15 senior colleges in the state. Annual membership is $25, or $40 for two people living at the same address.

Classes are $30 each. Senior College membership has many benefits, such as advance notice of courses, invitations to free one-day programs, a free annual meeting luncheon with a guest speaker and the ability to enroll in other senior colleges’ classes.

There are no entrance exams and no academic requirements — and no test at the end of the course. In fact, the only actual requirement is that you be age 50 or older. Aging does have its perks.

So what will your $30 per course tuition get you? The brochure can answer that question fully, but here is the short version:

  • “Maine and the Civil War,” with Ned and Diane Smith, morning class, Bangor. This timely class — the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War is April 12 — will examine the causes of the

American Civil War, Maine’s situation as the war loomed, the lack of effective leadership in the Union Army, Joshua Chamberlain, Maine regiments and their roles, the Union gaining the upper hand, the end of the war and Reconstruction. This is a morning class on the Bangor campus.

  • “The Current Supreme Court Term,” with Sol Goldman, morning, Bangor. This spring there will be the effect of another new justice, Elena Kagan, to consider, as well as important issues going before the court. The Supreme Court class has been a mainstay for Senior College, long-running and ever-popular.
  • “Wabanaki History and Contemporary Issues,” with John Bear Mitchell, afternoon, Orono. Through the skillful interweaving of stories and humor, this class will illuminate the history, culture and philosophy of the tribes that make up the Wabanaki Confederacy — Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Maliseet and Micmac — putting the tribes in context with Maine and Canadian history as appropriate.

Also available are classes in art, writing and gardening, including the secret world of mushrooms.

And this year there will be a unique offering:

  • “Exploring Maine’s Lighthouses,” with Duane Prugh, weekly, April 7-June 2. Visits to lighthouses will start in southern Maine and work up the coast. The catalog promises you will “Learn about the primary purpose of these longstanding sentinels of Maine’s past, the amazing characteristics of these lights, the giant lenses that helped guide ships into harbors and the dedicated men and women who fought against the perils of weather and loneliness to tend the lights.” Some 40 lighthouses will be visited. Attendance at all field trips is not mandatory.

This course is sponsored by York County Senior College. Members of PVSC may register by calling 282-4030 after Feb. 15. This offering is $25, with additional expenses for boat trips, museums and lighthouses.

This is a brief sampling of the offerings from PVSC. For more information on the classes offered, go to www.mainecenteronaging.org and click on Senior College, or call the message phone at 992-0118.

Senior College is just the thing to pull your brain out of its winter slump.

Carol Higgins Taylor is director of communications at Eastern Area Agency on Aging. E-mail Higgins Taylor at chtaylor@eaaa.org. For information on EAAA, call 941-2865, toll-free 800-432-7812, e-mail info@eaaa.org or visit EAAA.org. TTY 992-0150.

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