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Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016 01:03 am

Never stop learning

Seniors find edification and celebration at Lincoln Land

The Academy of Lifelong Learning “Around Town” interest group learning about the Governor Duncan Mansion in Jacksonville.


There’s plenty going on for area seniors these days, with more all the time. Every month, hundreds of active, imaginative seniors meet to eat, explore interesting places in and around Springfield, play sports, travel and much more. They are the members and friends of Lincoln Land Community College’s Academy of Lifelong Learning (A.L.L.), and they’re going strong.

It’s a group of more than 400 individuals 50 years old and older interested in lifelong learning, says Jamie Stout, director of community education for LLCC. “Activities may be physically active, such as the bicycle and golf groups, or mentally active, such as the lectures and Tech Talk group.” In fact, there are more than a dozen special-interest groups and programs within the volunteer-led academy that will celebrate its 25th year in 2017.

Some of the sport groups meet weekly in season, but most groups meet monthly, according to A.L.L. President Kathy Ransom. These include the Breakfast Roundtable lectures, Flicks on Fridays movies, Wander on Wednesdays day trips, Around Town visits, Chautauqua panel discussion series and more.

“A.L.L. is a forum in which many people of all backgrounds can find fun, fellowship and conversation,” says Ransom. “There’s a real smorgasbord of options from bowling to Meet, Greet, and Eat, and Tech Talk. The Chautauqua series is one of the more serious options,” she says, featuring panel presentations and discussions on compelling topics. Last year’s “Our Challenging World” program featured discussions on the Middle East, immigration and the world water supply.

The academy’s “Meet, Greet and Eat” group on a tour of Springfield’s Engrained Brewing Company.

It’s far from constant seriousness, though. Although Ransom is a member of a few specialty groups, her favorite events are the all-group gatherings each year, including the September kickoff, December party and the spring event where everyone enjoys the fellowship of members and friends, an array of activities and the camaraderie of others who want to “stay bright, young and active, and keep their brains working,” as Ransom says. Those are also great times to visit and bring friends, she adds.

Community volunteer Les Eastep attends many of the monthly events and cooked chili for the September fundraiser. He has been a member of A.L.L. for 10, maybe 15 years, he says, because he loves learning. “You never stop learning. I always think of it as a challenge to learn something new every day. It keeps me going.”

It helps keep Ransom going, too. “We have fun. I say ‘It’s the best kept secret in Springfield for seniors who want to stay alive.’”

How to get involved

For a closer look, visit the Academy of Lifelong Learning website, http://www.llcc.edu/community-education/academy-lifelong-learning. Here you’ll find membership information, program descriptions, event photos, the informative “Update” newsletter and details of two special events – the Fat Tuesday winter celebration at LLCC’s Trutter Center on Feb. 28, and the road trip to Mississippi Civil War locations in April.

Basic membership is $60 per year beginning in July. The “Plus” membership option includes course discounts. From the LLCC website: “For a membership fee of $120, enjoy all privileges of regular membership, plus 50 percent off most non-credit Community Education (CEW) classes. Exceptions: Culinary Institute offerings, foreign languages, and travel opportunities; special discounts may apply.”
Note, too, membership is just $35 for anyone joining in January.

Print the new member form from the A.L.L. website or call Jamie Stout at 786-2430. And for a peek at the fun as a guest, make a reservation for the winter Mardi Gras party, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 28, Trutter Center, 5250 Shepherd Road, on the LLCC Springfield campus. Enjoy a potluck dinner, music by Jane Hartman and Riverboat 5+1. The event is free and open to the public with a reservation.

DiAnne Crown is a frequent contributor to Capital City Senior.

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