| 2014 Spring | story by HANK BOOTH |


About the last thing I expected while starting my trip into my middle 60’s, age-wise, was the discovery of a pent up desire to go back to school. What the heck, maybe it’s that long suppressed guilt over not doing it right the first time through. My grades were “OK” back in high school days, but I hated math, studied for tests only if absolutely necessary and did my best work in, you guessed it, classes that I could talk a lot (BS) for a grade. Off to college and the BS routine didn’t seem to work nearly as well. At least some math and a foreign language were required and 7:30 am classes were impossible to attend since I was usually sound asleep.

Now I usually wake about 6 am whether I want to or not I frequently talk to friends who are enjoying a new adventure in learning somewhere here in Lawrence, and they can’t wait to tell you all about how much fun they are having going back to school. The best part…grades are not a factor, tests are almost non-existent and everybody in the room is there because they want to learn something new or create a new skill.

This great town is filled to the brim with opportunity sources for learning. Name the topic, you can probably find a class. Whether you want to learn how to dance, begin yoga, or create pottery, instructors are waiting and willing to teach you. Classes seem to be always ready to start somewhere all thru the year. So where to start?

Lawrence Parks and Recreation, The Lawrence Arts Center, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at KU, and that’s just the start of the list. Pick up a catalog from Parks and Rec and just thumb through. It’s good exercise. Their focus is on health and making this area a healthy place to live, work gain complete wellness. How about Senior Strength Training, beginning and advanced, Beginning Tai Chi, (what the heck is that??), Silver Pilates, Zumba, Yoga, or just good old bike riding. The catalog and enrollment is available on line at I feel healthier just reading the lists of classes.

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute is an offshoot of KU Continuing Education. I’m happy they kept the Osher in Lawrence when they moved Continuing Ed to Johnson County. The list of classes is out of this world. Not all are taught in Lawrence, but there are enough and the instructors are top notch. Speaking of “out of this world” James Gunn teaches a class called The “Real” World of Science Fiction. Jim Gunn has written or edited over 42 books and has published over 100 short stories. The classes are coming up in April. Consider me booked! Next on my list will be a class taught by a wonderful young lady who grew up in Lawrence, Ashley Davis. Ashley is an international recording artist with four albums and a master’s degree in traditional music from the University of Limerick in Ireland. Her class is Exploring the Roots of Irish and American Music”. There aren’t many of the classes that I wouldn’t want to attend and they are constantly being added to my list. My buddy the Brit, Jeremy Taylor teaches one about Winston Churchill and his personal war on behalf of the British Empire. This semester he’s teaching in Mission, KS. I’ll wait till he’s back in town.

If getting outside is more your game, head out to the Douglas County Extension Office at the county fairgrounds. The Master Gardner group is always looking for new members or folks to train to become Masters of their own lawn and garden, be it large or small.

I’ve just scratched the surface. Pick one out, give it a try, and you’ll be glad you did. It’s just another great reason for the Boomer generation to love living in Lawrence or out in the county. I can’t wait for the bell to ring! ■

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