Walking through the aisles of spiral bound notepads and reams of blue-lined paper reminds me of my own back-to-school days. The seasonal page is turning to autumn. It’s time to sharpen pencils and dive into new subjects. Grade school may be long past for you, but the thrill of a new school year is still available for adults by taking classes from the Life Long Learning courses offered through Senior Services of South Sound.

heritage bankIf you are at least 18 years old, you can enroll in programs that nurture curiosity, create connections and enliven the brain. In the fall of 2012, Senior Services hosted a World Café to create dialogue about the kinds of classes people wanted. There was a clear mandate for deeper learning opportunities. The Life Long Learning concept was developed. These courses provide for both academic and personal growth classes over a wide range of topics. A cadre of local teachers, writers, artists and other professionals brings years of talent, experience and expertise to the table.

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Education Coordinator Sara Thiessen oversees an impressive calendar of classes and events at Senior Services of South Sound.

Sara Theissen has been coordinating the education and activities at Senior Services for the past 10 years. Classes previously involved 40 people but have grown to over 150 individuals. There are academic and specialty offerings involving topics like classic literature, climate change and language. There are also PAT classes, which are personal growth, arts and technology. Maybe you are ready to tackle the genealogy of your family tree or write songs.

You are not required to be a member of Senior Services to take a Life Long Learning course, but members will receive a discount. Membership supports their mission of keeping seniors and their families independent and vital in our communities. Funds support programming, regular activities and facilities maintenance. Another reason to become a member is to take part in their Members Only health and wellness classes. There’s yoga, line dancing, meditation, and zumba plus reading and study groups, foreign language conversations and discussion of current issues. Membership does have its rewards.

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Volunteers staff Bud Bay Bargains located in the upper floor of the Olympia Center. Ready to help are Nancy Fanarjian, Sharon Scott, and Carole Vandiver.

You might be pleased to know that Senior Services has a program called Trips and Tours. Every quarter there are coordinated visits to regional locations such as Lake Quinault and Fort Warden. The activity level of each trip is noted from easy to moderate to more difficult. Membership will give you a discount here, too.

Hot Tip: Another treasure at the downtown Olympia location is Budd Bay Bargains, a thrift shop with clothing, crafts and curiosities. Staffed with volunteers, it’s a friendly place to hunt for bargains. According to Sharon Scott, who worked in various retail businesses in her life, the boutique is, “The plum shopping experience of the Northwest.” You’ll be impressed with what you find for $10 or less.

Senior Services for South Sound has two locations – downtown Olympia and Lacey. Downtown Olympia has a parking lot across the street and a few spaces near the building for those who need to be closer. Take advantage of this rich resource for fun, education, stimulation, and adventures with friends you have and with the ones you’ll make. Whether you are an outdoor enthusiast or a quiet bookworm or want to play bingo, there’s probably something for you. School should always be this wonderful.

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The Olympia Senior Center’s open and airy common room is a popular meeting place.

If you are still deciding what to do, there is the chance to get up close and personal with the Fall Quarter teaching team. Meet the Faculty will take place on Wednesday, September 7 from 10:15 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Olympia Senior Center in downtown Olympia. Get your questions answered and sign up on site.

Course offerings change each quarter and there are various times of day and evening. Read the Fall Catalogue or pick up a brochure at the center. When you are ready to register, you can choose to complete online, in person or over the phone at 360-586-6181.

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