E-News April 2021

Senior College Online

Spring 2021 with Senior College

“Oh to be in England now that April’s here” wrote English poet Robert Browning in 1845 in his poem Home Thoughts from Abroad. I memorized this poem back in 8th grade and each April those words resonate with me.

Geoffrey Chaucer in his prologue to The Canterbury Tale wrote:

When April the sweet showers fall
And pierce the drought of March to the root, and all
The veins are bathed in liquor of such power
As brings about the engendering of the flower ….

It is almost like Chaucer knew what being here in Maine was like.

Yet centuries later another well known English poet had a somewhat different view of this month. T.S. Eliot wrote in The Wasteland:

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

Whatever your feelings for this fourth month of the year it does set the stage for glorious May when nature bursts forth in her most festive attire. April to me is a month of promise that winter is really over and that summer warmth will be here soon.

This April many of us celebrate not only the end of winter but the completion of our vaccinations. While we may all have had our vaccines and are anxious to return to “live” activities, the Senior College Board will be following the Covid 19 updates during the next few months. We are all anxious to return to the Hutchinson Center, gather in the lobby for coffee and cookies, and greet friends and familiar faces. But the Board wants you to know that while we are anxious we shall remain cautious and only return when we believe it will be safe!

There is a possibility that we may be able to return to face-to-face teaching this fall at the Hutchinson Center. The Curriculum Committee invites all prospective Instructors to submit proposals for the fall session.

If you are interested in teaching a class but would like to discuss the possibility before submitting a proposal don’t hesitate to contact Deirdre Good at deirdregood@mac.com or Nancy Perkins at nanella133@gmail.com.

In the meantime there are several classes still open in this Spring session. This past week I thoroughly enjoyed learning the ins and outs of growing asparagus. And now that it is April I joined the evocative class on Jane Austen’s England. I am really looking forward to the six-week course on “The Places You’ll Go” and as a proud grandmother I am excited about the segment featuring my granddaughter, Nellie LaValle, describing her Fulbright year traveling in China. Following this presentation a great lineup of fellow members will take us to Russia, Istanbul, Iceland, Galapagos, Bhutan & Nepal, Vietnam & Cambodia, and Bolivia. For tea lovers there is still room in my class on the History of Tea as well as space in the course on Monarch butterflies, both later in May. Time is running out so don’t hesitate and register for one of these interesting and educational offerings!

Finally, nearly a year’s work has come to fruition with the award of $10,000.00 to Waldo County Community Action Partners (WaldoCap). Last year the Senior College Board approved awarding surplus funds to organizations making a difference to seniors in Waldo County. A small ad hoc committee explored several options and in the end felt that through a variety of programs our dollars could best be used to support programs and services to seniors as they strive to lead meaningful and productive lives with the help and support of WaldoCap. Ron Jarvella chaired the committee as it worked with the staff from the nonprofit and is pleased to report that computer skills training will be one of the services provided.

We are still publishing the Corona Chronicles after nearly a year. In reading back over some of the issues I am honored to be part of an organization of so many talented, inspiring, and insightful individuals. We will continue to send out the Chronicle as long as we receive material from you. If you haven’t contributed please send us a book, movie, or other review, a poem, a photograph, a photo of an original piece of your art, or even a recipe you have loved to share with all. All the back issues are archived on the Senior College website under What’s Happening.

Next issue: the Merry month of May!

Nancy Perkins, President

Ad Hoc Committee on Technology

A few months ago the Board approved an Ad Hoc Committee to deal with and strategize on issues facing the organization dealing with virtual learning. The Ad Hoc Technology Committee has met twice. They have prepared detailed Zoom instruction sheets for class hosts, instructors and participants. These drafts were sent to the Curriculum Committee, which will review them at their next meeting. When finalized, these documents will be available on the Senior College website for easy access by class hosts, instructors and participants.

Elizabeth Sterner, Committee Member, Board Member

We are enjoying our senior college classes: Jack and Digital Photography. Our classes provide fabulous learning experiences that give us explanations and tools that we would not have found out on our own except with much effort and probable frustration. And they propel us to think about and build on what we already know. I discovered that Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis is the setting for much of Jack, was built by Almerin Hotchkiss. Mr Hotchkiss also designed and built The Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn NY in which I have spent many happy hours bird watching, walking around the graves, and looking out at views of Brooklyn Harbor. The Green-Wood cemetery opened in 1858 and was visited by thousands of New Yorkers since there were as yet no public parks. I am continuing to ask myself the question posed by our Senior College instructor: why Marilynne Robinson set so much of Jack in Bellefontaine Cemetery over the course of a single night, and I am proposing answers to myself that I would never have thought of without the class.

While none of this is may be useful for a newsletter it keeps me mentally and physically alive in ways I value highly.

Deirdre Good, Chair, Curriculum Committee, Board Member

Nominating Committee

I am happy to report I have selected three non-Board volunteers willing to serve on the Nominating Committee this spring and summer as the committee meets to fill positions on the 2021-2022 Board of Directors. Members-at-Large Mary Rackmales, Paul Sheridan, and Barney Lutsk have agreed to join Board officers on the Nominating Committee. The group will recruit and select individuals for board service.

Jim Owen, Chair, Nominating Committee, Board Member


The telephone scammers are out in full force. Just this week there have been numerous reports of calls purporting to be from Social Security, Medicare, and Amazon. And, of course, the constant calls from SPECTRUM, which seem never-ending.


E-News March 2021

Senior College Online

Message from our President

Dear All,

March entered like a roaring lion but the recent sunny days promise that Spring will be appearing this month! I see tiny green shoots protruding through the snow in my front yard and they are a welcome sight indeed. The winter has passed quickly this year and by the official beginning of Spring I will, like many of you, have had my second Covid vaccine! Waldo Hospital did a superlative job arranging and delivering the shots. It was actually a treat for me to be out with real people! I am now looking forward to a bit more activity while still sporting a mask.

Spring also signals a new session at Senior College and Deirdre Good and the hardworking, dedicated members of the Curriculum Committee are pleased to announce that Spring courses are now open for registration! The Committee is expecting to receive a few more courses so make sure you check the web page regularly.

Once again, there is a wide array of offerings from learning about Monarch Butterflies to African American Poetry. Want to plant and grow asparagus? We have you covered. Still worried about Russian meddling in our elections, are you a Jane Austen lover, or is tea your bag (no pun intended)? Make sure you check out these offerings. Marilynn Robinson fans will want to sign up for a class to learn about her latest novel, Jack. If you have missed traveling over the past year there is the perfect course for you and if you have always wanted to learn how to photoshop don’t miss the opportunity this Spring. While I hesitate utilizing a trite expression “there truly is something for everyone.”

The Board has had a busy few months and I am happy to report that several members recently met with Kim Wilson-Raymond to discuss a possible return to face-to-face classes at the Hutchinson Center. The lovely patio area could accommodate up to twelve individuals in an outdoor class and several of the larger classrooms can safely hold up to twenty-five participants. Perhaps we can start planning on a slow return, phased in over several months and by this time next year join in a number of classrooms together.

Kim most graciously offered any member of Senior College Belfast a 20% discount on any of the upcoming classes or seminars. Her letter is below.

We have convened an ad hoc Committee on Technology that will address the ever growing need for technical assistance for Hosts, Instructors, and Participants. The group is working on information and instructions for the three groups in light of what we believe will be a continued demand for virtual learning. The Hutchinson Center may install several classrooms with the equipment that will allow simultaneous experiences, onsite as well as via Zoom.

By the way, the little yellow dog above is my new companion, Bella. Bella is a “Sato” dog of Puerto Rico. Satos are mutts and generally run wild on the island. They are known for big ears, short legs, and long tails as well as sweet dispositions. A number of organizations are working with shelters in the U.S. to place these animals. We got Bella from The Ark in Cherryfield and are thrilled to have her.

Best to all and stay healthy and safe!

Greetings from the Hutchinson Center!

We’re so grateful that Senior College is returning to the Hutchinson Center. Your presence here is part of what makes the Hutchinson Center such a vibrant place and we’ve missed you.

As a token of our appreciation for Senior College at Belfast, we’d like to extend a special offer to you.

We’re offering a special 20% discount to all members of Senior College at Belfast on all of our professional development programs. You can choose whether you’d like to use the discount yourself or gift the discount to someone else.

To use your special discount, just enter SENIOR21 when you’re registering for a professional development program, in the checkout process. Some details: each member of Senior College can only use their code once. The offer is valid through December 31, 2021 and cannot be combined with other special offers. Feel free to reach out to us at um.fhc.pd@maine.edu or 207.338.8002 if you have any questions.

A full list of all of our upcoming professional development programs is here.

All programs below are being offered online unless otherwise noted. Programs are not pre-recorded–they are asynchronous, dynamic, and participatory.

  • Career Transformation Lunch-and-Learn Series
  • Building Your Professional Network (Apr. 9, Noon–1 p.m.)
  • Resume Building Workshop (Apr. 16, Noon–1 p.m.)
  • Improving Your Interview Skills (Apr. 23, Noon–1 p.m.)
  • Grant Writing Essentials (5-part program, May 21, 28, Jun. 4, 11 & 18, 9 a.m.–Noon)
  • Mediation and the Art of Conflict Transformation* ( 5-part program, Jun. 14–18, 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m.) This is being offered in-person.
  • Past Trauma, Current Relationships: Integrating Nonviolent Communication and Interpersonal Neurobiology (5-part program, May 10-–14, 9–11:30 a.m.)
  • Practical Project Management (5-part program, May 5, 7, 12, 14 & 28, 12:30–4:30 p.m.)
  • Public Speaking & Virtual Presentations (2-part program, Apr. 30 & May 7, 1–4 p.m.)
  • Racial Equity, Implicit Bias and Diversity Training (1-part program, May 26, 9 a.m.–2 p.m.)
  • Summer Restorative Practices (6-part program, Jun. 24, 25, July 23, Aug. 19, 20 & Sep. 24, 9 a.m.–4 p.m.)

Again, we’re so grateful that we’ll be seeing your faces again soon. Until then, stay safe, be well, take care!

Kim Wilson-Raymond and the Hutchinson Center staff

From War Correspondent to Power in Washington

I’ve never been able to resist a pun, good (rare) or bad (the norm). In the title above, the word power is a double entendre — power as influence or clout and Power as the surname of Samantha Power, nominated by President Biden to be Director of the Agency for International Development and a member of the National Security Council.

Ever since my first Senior College course in 2006 “Four Problems from Hell,” based on Power’s 2002 Pulitzer Prize-winning book A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, I have followed with interest her career as a writer (her memoir The Education of An Idealist was published in 2019), academic (Professor at Harvard), and government official in the Obama administration (Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights at the National Security Council and later US Ambassador to the United Nations).

In his recently published memoir A Promised Land Obama makes clear that Power was not just one aide among many. “Samantha was one of my closest friends in the White House…She evoked my own youthful idealism, the part of me still untouched by cynicism, cold calculation, or caution dressed up as wisdom.”

But Obama also makes clear that this closeness came at a price: “It was precisely because she knew that side of me…that at times she drove me nuts…whenever Samantha got time on my calendar, she felt obliged to remind me of every wrong I hadn’t yet righted (So what ideals have we betrayed lately?).”

As of this writing (February 15) it is not entirely clear when Power’s confirmation hearing will be scheduled. Her role as a leading advocate of US military intervention in Libya (which Obama subsequently called the worst mistake of his Presidency) remains controversial. In addition, her testimony before the House Intelligence Committee in October, 2017 has raised questions about the appropriateness of some of her actions during the final months of the Obama administration.

Whatever happens, Power’s proven resilience and passion will make her a force to be reckoned with regardless of which of her three tracks she occupies in the years ahead.

Bob Rackmales

Maine Senior College Network Statewide Zoom Class Opportunities

Senior College Belfast is part of the Maine Senior College Network that serves the 17 Senior Colleges in our state. Several representatives from Belfast attend weekly meetings via Zoom to discuss issues, activities, and initiatives with network members.

All members of Senior College Belfast are invited to attend all classes throughout the state. Senior Colleges will open registration to their members first. If classes have spaces, they will offer seats to the members of other senior colleges.

You are encouraged to go to www.maineseniorcollege.org and click on MSCN ONLINE to review courses open to all members of Maine Senior Colleges. You may also sign up for the monthly newsletter compiled by Anne Cardale the Director of the network.

Home Page

Welcome to The Senior College at Belfast, where people meet to exchange new ideas, explore classic and contemporary topics and make new friends.

Senior College provides a diverse curriculum of programs, classes and special events for those 50 years and older, along with their spouses or partners. Enjoy subjects ranging from the intellectually challenging to the purely enjoyable. We’re the third largest of the 17 Senior Colleges in the state with more than 500 mid-coast members.

Classes meet every Thursday for six weeks during the fall and spring semesters and for four weeks during a January-February “Winterim” semester.

Take a look at who we are, what we do and why we can’t imagine life without Senior College!