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News: RSCC offers unique classes for those who love learning

Classroom filled with adult learners

July 21, 2022

By Bob Fowler
Roane State staff writer

There’s no age limit for learning, especially at two Roane State Community College campuses.

The Oak Ridge Institute for Continued Learning (ORICL) is headquartered in the Coffey/McNally Building on the Oak Ridge Branch Campus. It’s celebrating its 25th anniversary.

ORICL was the inspiration and role model for the Center for Lifelong Learning (CLL) which is based on Roane State’s Cumberland County Campus.

First launched in 2016, the fledgling program “went on the shelf for a while,” recalls founder and campus director Holly Hanson.

It was reactivated in 2019 by Hanson, John Conrad and Judy Wade. It’s now going full tilt.

“It’s a great opportunity for anybody who wants to meet people and learn more about the area and many other topics,” Hanson said.

The two nonprofits have similar formats featuring fall, winter and summer semesters and modest membership costs. The community college doesn’t provide any financial assistance but offers classroom space. Curriculums vary but are often tailored for older residents.

Hanson said, “We are actively seeking suggestions for future classes, as well as volunteer presenters.”

At the CLL, classes span the gamut from knitting to beginning computer to a history of Tennessee to finance. There’s usually a multi-session course in theatre offered at the Cumberland County Playhouse by theatre director Bryce McDonald. Equestrian-related classes are held at the stables in the nearby Fairfield Glade community.

Classes are normally held during the day, and there are 30 or more CLL classes each semester. ORICL’s class list each semester is longer, largely because it has had additional time to become established and gain a more robust membership.

Members who’ve taken CLL courses often end up recruiting future presenters, Hanson said.

“All presenters are volunteers who are particularly passionate about their subject matters and wish to share their knowledge and experience with others who are curious about the topic,” she explained.

The CLL “seeks to provide an opportunity for all Cumberland County residents and visitors to experience a supportive, community-based environment which enriches the lives of adults, regardless of age, background, or educational levels, through continued learning,” according to an overview of the program.

Both nonprofits have mottos reflecting their missions. For ORICL, it’s “A perfect blend of those who love to learn with those who love to teach.” For CLL, it’s “Expanding minds across the plateau.”

One of the CLL’s most popular classes offers descriptions of areas of interest, from hikes to favorite restaurants. “There are so many people who are new to the community or looking for something new to do,” Hanson said.

For more information about ORICL, visit roanestate.edu/ORICL. Details about CLL are also available online at roanestate.edu/CLL.

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