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Never too old to learn
Seniors show art skillsBy 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."
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