celebrate education - brought to you by the amarillo globe-news

Never too old to learn

Seniors show art skills

By Brad Newman

When Sue Schroeter retired, non-adventure wasn't an option.

So Schroeter - who had never painted before - enrolled in art classes through Amarillo College's Seniors' College.

"I wanted to do something for me, and I always thought art would be fun to pursue," Schroeter said. "I didn't even own a paintbrush, but I signed up anyway."

This semester, Schroeter, 66, is taking her third year of acrylic painting.

AC offers about a dozen different arts and crafts classes, plus other courses, specifically for senior citizens.

Classes range in price from $5 to $41. The only course requirement is age: Participants must be at least 50.

The art classes are voluntarily taught by local artists.

"We are really thankful that we have such good, willing teachers," said student Karen Heavin. "They're really committed to these classes."

Nancy Sisemore and Ken Wampler co-teach the acrylic painting class.

"I enjoy being around other artists, especially people in the same stage of life," said Wampler, who has taught art classes at AC's Seniors' College for about eight years.

Wampler pursued full-time painting after his retirement from Pantex Plant.

"It's important to teach people the value of art and art skills," he said. "It gives them an outlet and an activity to enjoy."

The classes also help the seniors maintain healthy, active minds and lives, said student Sam Mays.

"Learning something new and retaining what you learn is rewarding," Mays said. "I enjoy that feeling of accomplishment."

Seniors of all artistic skill levels are invited to participate.

"It's rewarding to see someone go from not knowing one thing about art to framing their pictures and even selling some," Sisemore said.

Some of the senior works hang in the halls of the Business and Industry Center on AC's Polk Street campus.

"I'm constantly amazed at the quality of these pieces," Sisemore said. "We all cheer each other on."

In addition to a learning opportunity, the art classes become social gatherings for the seniors.

A combination of lighthearted banter, encouragement and laughter fills the classroom as students paint.

"Monday morning is a morning that you look forward to," Schroeter said. "This class has become an extended family."

In between lessons, the students enjoy plenty of coffee and conversation.

"It's all about having a good time," said Sisemore, who also teaches beginning woodcarving. "Everybody gets to know and really care about everybody in this group."

For Schroeter, art has become her hobby of choice.

"Now we have time to do extra things, and art is an adventure," Schroeter said. "It's good for me; it helps me stay involved with life."

calendar of events
  • January 11
    Kickoff of 2009 Program
    Find out what Celebrate Education is all about in this special section in your Sunday paper.
  • March 7
    Regional Spelling Bee, West Texas A&M University
    The annual Regional Spelling Bee will feature the top spellers from the Amarillo area. The top five winners will receive scholarship money ranging from $500 to $5,000 and the winner will travel to Washington, D.C., in June to represent the area in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
  • Spring and Fall
    Amarillo Reads community-wide reading projects.
    Dates and details TBA
  • April
    Amarillo Education Matching Grants Program. Exact date TBA
  • April 10
    What's a Kid to Do Special Section
  • April 12
    What's a Kid to Do at the Amarillo Civic Center
    This event will focus on activities and camps for children to participate in during the summer..
  • May 8-29
    Beating the Odds
    A series of stories published daily in the Amarillo Globe-News during the graduation season that profiles people who have inspiring stories to tell about the degree they are about to receive.
  • May 12
    Ready for the Real World program at Amarillo Civic Center
    AISD juniors get training on what's going to face them in a little more than a year.
  • May 16
    Best and Brightest Special Section
  • May 16
    Best and Brightest Event at West Texas A&M University
  • Fall
    Discover College Day
    Fifth graders from area schools visit college campuses.
  • October 1
    Great Jobs Special Section
    Focusing on well paying jobs available in the area that people may not know about.
  • November 2
    Career Education Special Section
    Focusing on businesses and others in the community helping young people gain a career vision.
  • November
    Yes You Can Event
    Designed to help people gain information about the next level of education from GED to PhD. Date TBA.
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