Monday, December 31, 2012

Senior College Players Performances a Hit with Audiences

By Rosabelle Tifft

Senior College Players performed two holiday favorites this fall as a Christmas gift to the community. Two matinees and two evening performances delighted a total of nearly 150 persons in attendance.

“A Child’s Christmas in Wales,” by Dylan Thomas, was a sparkling rendition of this classic, with performers reading, acting and inviting the audience to join them in song.

"Memories of a Wonderful Life,” by Jonathan M. Zaley, a Christmas comedy that added an audience-friendly twist to this holiday classic, was also performed. Lynn Arizzi, Director, said audience members could relate this play to the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Players took the audience through the story with all its famous characters asking some audience members to join them on stage and play some of the characters. All audience members joined in the singing of well-known favorite songs.

This successful holiday event proved to be fun and enjoyable for both the Players and audiences as well. As one audience member said, “It was a very special evening of joy and entertainment for everyone.” 

Roberta Taylor, Mary Jane Shiverick (from audience)

Roberta Taylor, Tineka Ouwinga, Mary-Ellen Gartner, Rosabelle Tifft, Carol Campbell, Lainey Cross, Mary Jane Shiverick

Audience volunteer Lainey Cross plays the taxi driver with Roberta Taylor as George Bailey and Mary-Ellen Gartner as Mary, his wife.
Lorrie Hoeh as Mr. Welch, Roberta Taylor as George Bailey, and David Shiverick (from audience) as Martini's Tavern owner.

Audience members Marilyn Sahlberg (babysitting for Mary Bailey), Amy Davis, and Carolyn Gould.
 Photos by Joe Arizzi

This article also appears in the January issue of the Maine Senior College Network Newsletter 

For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at

Sunday, December 16, 2012

WMSC Holiday Party

by Barb Dion

On Thursday, December 6, WMSC celebrated the season with our annual Holiday Party at the historic Dr. Moses Mason House. Those lucky to attend were treated to a large variety of holiday treats and the fellowship of our amazing members. The highlight of the evening was the singing of traditional Christmas carols, led by Nancy Davis and accompanied by the musical talents of Dan Johnson and Kathleen DeVore.  Judy Whitman, her co-chairman Rosabelle Tifft, and their committee had decorated the room with festive lights which, along with the welcoming glow of the fireplace, added to the ambiance of the evening. 

Ellen Crocker and Rosemary McClean

Barb Dion and Rosabelle Tifft

Karen Bean, Roberta Taylor and Rosemary McLean
Carolers: Marcia Foster-Austin, Carlie Casey, Laurence Austin, Charlene Chase, Scott Hynek and Kay Larson

Dan Johnson, Kathleen DeVore and Judy Whitman

Nancy Davis
photos by Barb Dion 

The WMSC Blog will be on vacation until January 1. Best wishes to all for a Happy Chanukah, Joyous Solstice, Merry Christmas, and a very Happy New Year!

For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at

Monday, December 10, 2012

WMSC Drawing and Painting Class Teams Up With Telstar Middle School Art

The same directions were given to the students in WMSC's Drawing and Painting Class and the students in Telstar Middle School's Advanced Art Class: "Create an original two-dimensional artwork inspired by 'movement,' but only finish it half-way."  After both groups completed this first step, they traded projects and finished each other's work.  Then, on Friday, November 16, the two groups met together to title the artworks, price them, and prepare them for display at the TMS ArtReach Student Art Show and Sale.

ArtReach is TMS Advanced Art's annual service-learning project.  This year the middle school students chose to focus their ArtReach project on helping and working with senior citizens in our area.  In addition to the collaboration with WMSC's art class, the Telstar students did oral history interviews, investigated issues important to seniors, and worked with adults and elders on musical collaborations.

The ArtReach Jamboree & Student Art Sale held last Thursday, December 6, featured a student art exhibit and sale, a showcase of service-learning projects connecting youth and elders, and a Jamboree concert focusing on the musical expression of older generations.  Our WMSC Holiday Party conflicted with the Jamboree concert, but for those of us who missed it, Melissa Prescott has posted a YouTube video of the flash mob the middle school students staged.  Check it out - it's really cool!

TMS Flashmob!

Proceeds from the event were given to the Oxford County Meals on Wheels program.

Photos taken by Joe Arizzi at the November 16 students/seniors get-together

For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at

Monday, December 3, 2012

WMSC Creative Writing

The Creative Writing class has just completed its fall session, and several members have submitted some of their work to share with you.  Enjoy!

"Parachuting" by Ruth Barrett

"October Visions" by Nancy Davis

"An Autumn Tale" by Barb Dion

"What If?" by Marcia Foster-Austin

"The Landscape Reveals Its Bones" by Scott Hynek
"The Feather" by Karen Mills

For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at

Monday, November 19, 2012

Senior College Players Offer A Christmas Gift To the Community

Group photo from "Memories of a Wonderful Life"

Two holiday favorites will be featured by the Senior College Players as a Christmas gift to the community on Friday, December 7, at 7:00 pm and on Saturday, December 8 at 1:00 pm and at 7:00 pm. Performances will take place at the Mason House Exhibit Hall, intersection of Broad and Mason Streets, Bethel (entrance on Mason Street). 

George, Mary and Family
Director Lynn Arizzi said, “Come sing, join us on stage, but only if you like, and celebrate the holidays with us.” This holiday special promises to be fun and enjoyable for both the Players and the audience. The Mason House will be in full holiday d├ęcor for these presentations.
From "A Child's Christmas in Wales"

“A Child’s Christmas in Wales” by Dylan Thomas, one of the featured plays, will be a sparkling rendition of this classic. Performers will read and act, and invite the audience to join them in song.

Joseph and Clarence

“Memories of a Wonderful Life,” by Jonathan M. Zaley, is an audience-participation Christmas comedy that puts a friendly twist on a holiday classic. Arizzi said, “If you recall the movie ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ you’ll love this play."
Clarence biting Bert
 Buffalo Gals

Performers will take the audience through the story with all its famous characters including George Bailey, Mr. Gower, Clarence the Angel, Mary, Mr. Potter, Uncle Billy, Zuzu, Bert the cop, Ernie the taxi cab driver, and even God, played as Joseph.  Arizzi added, “We will need audience help to play all the characters. We’ll give you the lines so you can join in the fun.” 

Ernie taking George and Mary to their new home
Mary, baby and nurse
Senior College Players will be performing interchanging roles in the three performances. Players include Barb Dion, Leigh Dickinson, Mary-Ellen Gartner, Peter Gartner, Lorrie Hoeh, Dan Johnson, Laura Johnson, Jim McLean, Tineke Ouwinga, Roberta Taylor and Rosabelle Tifft.

Mr. Potter and George
Senior College Players is offered as a course sponsored by Western Mountains Senior College. WMSC is celebrating its tenth anniversary year. Senior College Players have been performing for the community for six of those years. The public is invited to the performances and admission is free. However, donations will be accepted to offset Royalty fees. For more information, contact Lynn Arizzi at 824-0080.
Another group photo from "Memories of a Wonderful Life"
photos by Joe Arizzi
For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at

Photos from Wine, Wine, Wine! at the Mill Hill Inn, November 14

Rosemary McLean, David and Mary Jane Shiverick

Lorrie Hoeh and Mary-Ellen Gartner

Jim and Rosemary McLean
Peter Gartner

Cathy Heffernan and Saranne Taylor

Dave Nivus, our resident wine expert
Dave Nivus and Scott Hynek

Paula and Herb Gross

Mac and Nancy Davis, Tim and Jodi Carter, and Mary-Ellen Gartner studying wine notes.

photos by Kathleen DeVore

For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at

Monday, November 12, 2012

Good Balance: Staying on Your Feet in Bethel

by Barb Dion

On Thursday, November 1, the WMSC To Your Health committee presented “Good Balance: Staying on Your Feet in Bethel.” A large crowd enjoyed the very informative talk which focused on preventing falls as we age. Before the program started twenty lucky registrants were able to have a balance assessment performed by the presenters: Lissa Merrill, Scott Bottomley, and Amy Bottomley, all of Stephens Memorial Hospital Department of Physical Therapy.

Scott Bottomley and Mary Leimbach
The facilitator, Amy Bottomley mentioned that people are living much longer, and that the purpose of this program was to give pointers on how to stay safe and enjoy life for as long as we can. She explained what a fall is, and that falls are common, predictable, multi-factorial, and preventable. Some, but not all risk factors are lower body weakness, problems with gait and balance, impaired vision and/or hearing, postural hypertension (drop in blood pressure when standing), and medication side effects. Inappropriate footwear was also shown to play a part in falling. The more risk factors you have, the greater chance of a fall.

Some tips were presented to avoid falls.  The need to hydrate, good nutrition, proper use of medications, eye exams and hearing screening were important. Also, a good exercise program will keep your reflexes strong and help you to walk faster and safer. Walking, tai chi, yoga, and other aerobic exercises are highly recommended.

A large part of prevention includes checking your home environment for potential hazards. Throw rugs, cluttered floors, objects placed on steps, and improper lighting were mentioned, as well as slippery tub or shower floors. Always keep emergency numbers in large print near each phone. If possible, carry a cell phone on your person. It was suggested that seniors consider wearing an alarm device that will bring help in case they fall and can’t get up. 

Amy Bottomley, Rosabelle Tifft, Judy Whitman and Lissa Merrill

Stephens Memorial Hospital offers a balance program called "Staying on Your Feet" for all adults ages 60 and older. This is a free class that meets on the second Thursday of every month. To sign up, call 1-866-609-5183.

photos by Barb Dion

For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at

Monday, November 5, 2012


by Roberta Taylor

Who says senior citizens are technologically illiterate? To dispel that rumor, MSAD#44 Adult and Continuing Education staff presented three “Introduction to Technology Forums” in September and October.

Topics included Intro to Facebook, Pinterest, and Skype; Intro to I-PAD; and Intro to Kindle and E-Reader. Lois Ruff and Lauren Gailitis showed us how to set up accounts, how to ensure digital security, and how to download apps, many of which are free.

The classes were small, but we students were eager participants. We asked a myriad of questions, explored many options and, with knowledgeable and very patient mentors, learned a lot and had a great time.

Thanks to Jeannie Waite, Adult Ed director, and to our super teachers for developing this forum and for supporting us in connecting with the technological world!

Keep tuned for announcements regarding future programs to be offered, perhaps before spring.  Stay connected!

For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Bruce Guernsey: Gracious and Entertaining at Down Home Maine

By Lorrie Hoeh

Bruce Guernsey at Mill Hill Inn
  Entering the charming and comfortable parlor of the Mill Hill Inn is always a pleasure, but with an added fillip of excitement on October 17 at the prospect of WMSC’s first Down Home Maine presentation of the semester. Wednesday night’s guest was poet Bruce Guernsey, who spends part of each year in his home on Paradise Road in Bethel with his wife, Victoria.

After a brief interlude of wine, munchies, and visiting with old and new acquaintances, we were called to order by Saranne Taylor, who introduced Bruce. His first reading from his book, From Rain: Poems, 1970-2010, was “The Apple.” He explained that the visual appearance of poetry differs from that of prose, because in poetry the “lines try to do something different from sentences.” The shape of an apple showed on the page.

Saranne Taylor introducing Bruce Guernsey
We were treated to Bruce’s readings of several of his favorites, including “The Well,” “The Dump Pickers,” “June 21st,” “Transplant,” “Toad,” “The Skull” and others. “The Skull” evokes such vivid mental pictures that it was printed in the Journal of Medicine, from which Bruce received $50! One of his poems, "The Letter X," he worked on for ten years, and it was no surprise that it ended with the letter "X." Copies of From Rain were available for purchase and autographing. We were all most appreciative of Bruce’s gracious and entertaining presentation.

Bruce Guernsey was born in New Hampshire, is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Eastern Illinois University, where he taught for twenty-five years. He has also taught at William and Mary, Johns Hopkins, and Virginia Wesleyan, where he was Poet-in-Residence for four years. His poems have appeared in Poetry, The Atlantic, The American Scholar, and many of the quarterlies. He is a former editor of The Spoon River Poetry Review. Guernsey has received fellowships from the NEA, the MacDowell Colony, and the Illinois Arts Council; moreover, he has been a Fulbright Senior Lecturer in American Poetry in Portugal and Greece and has twice sailed around the world as a faculty member with Semester at Sea.

Harriet Gilpatrick and Mary Haberman

 photos by Lorrie Hoeh

For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at

Monday, October 15, 2012

Good Turnout for Good Sleep

Carlie Casey and Lynne Kulik examine pamphlets brought by Dr. DellaValla.  photo J. Whitman
Twenty-nine people braved the rain on October 4 to attend To Your Health's first presentation of the year, “Good Sleep: Working to Keep You Healthy.” The presenter, Dr. Joseph DellaValla was informative and engaging as he explained why sleep is important and how we can learn to sleep better. He spoke of how melatonin is necessary for sleep, and how alcohol before bedtime, or light from a cell phone screen can block melatonin. He showed footage of a person experiencing an episode of sleep apnea (which several of us found downright scary!) and went on to show slides of several newer devices that help prevent it. Other things we learned: it's possible to recondition yourself to overcome insomnia; a light box used in the morning increases melatonin production and helps you sleep better at night; and a fifteen minute nap is better than a cup of coffee for eliminating drowsy driving.

The next To Your Health offering, “Good Balance: Staying on Your Feet in Bethel,” takes place on Thursday, November 1, from 4:30 – 6:00 pm at the West Parish Congregational Church. Doors open at 4:00, and the first 20 people will receive a complimentary balance assessment.

Future programs in this series include “Good Strong Heart - Women and Heart Disease” on February 7, 2013; “Good Meals – in 30 Minutes or Less” on March 21, 2013; and “Good Mind – Good Mood" in April, date to be announced.

For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

First Week of Fall Classes

Fall classes are now in full swing! None of us can be at every class, so here's a quick look at what went on this first week.

Marvin Ouwinga's A History of Classical Architectural Styles began on Monday with an introduction to the basic building blocks of architecture and the pyramids of Egypt. Rosemary McLean says that “Marvin is as usual a fount of knowledge. He rounds out his comments to make architecture understandable, simple, interesting and easy to remember what he's told us.” Marcia Foster-Austin adds, “I took the course because I know very little about architecture. Marvin was using words I'd never seen or heard before, but now I know what they mean.”

The first session of Great Decisions, facilitated by Jim McLean, dealt with the Internet and keeping your computer safe, and led to a discussion of the possibility of all-out cyber-war. Saranne Taylor says, “I find the course quite challenging, and the people in it are terrific.” Dan Johnson was a guest at this session, his first. Dan had this to say, “It was good, and very frightening. It makes me want to consider taking this course.”

Pat Stewart began the first class of Charles Dickens: Mystery and Hard Times by asking students what experience they've have with Dickens. Many had read A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield, A Tale of Two Cities, the ones we had to read in high school, but no one has read Hard Times or The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Jackie Cressy, who is really enjoying the class, says that “Pat is such a great facilitator and asks good questions.” She is sorry that fall is such a busy time and that she may need to miss the next class. Amy Davis compares reading when she was in high school and reading now. She says that back then “it seemed that Dickens just went on and on, and I felt like asking, when are you going to set the plot? When are you going to start the story? But now it's a lot more fascinating.”

It seems that last Thursday some of the students in Suzanne Taylor's Drawing and Painting class were rather too talkative, and Suzanne couldn't hear herself think! But as Jackie VanLeuven says, “The camaraderie of the group is so good. We all seem to relate to one another, and I look forward to our meetings every week.” Sara Wright is “just enjoying the opportunity to work in a medium I'm unfamiliar with – as a writer and a poet this is a new exploration for me.”

Creative Writing, also facilitated by Suzanne Taylor, rounded out the week on Friday. Suzanne had students reach into a bag and pull out a cookie press. They were to write about what they saw. Scott Hynek commented, “The interesting thing to me was that for no particular reason I wrote the first sentence without thinking of what the second sentence would be, and then the second without thinking of the third. The place I was at the end of 20 minutes was not where I thought I'd be at 15 minutes.” Barb Dion, who has been in the Creative Writing class for years, says the class “is lots of fun, and everyone is very non-judgmental. It's interesting to see the different writing styles. Some are very introspective when they write, others are more fun-loving. My style is more the macabre. Everyone is waiting to see who is going to die.”

Our fall term is definitely off to a good start!

For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


by Rosabelle Tifft

Western Mountains Senior College opened its 10th anniversary celebration on September 13 with an elegant evening event attended by seventy-five members and guests. Miniature lights strung around the hall and tables decked out with beautiful flower centerpieces created by Ginny Gamble added ambiance to the evening. The delicious social hour refreshments and buffet dinner were provided by the Good Food Store Caterers.

Wall posters depicting members at many activities over the past ten years and recent art work produced in art classes made a hit with everyone.  Entertainment by the Senior College Players had the hall rocking with laughter. Memories of the past years submitted by WMSC members were read between skits. Later, a drawing was held for those who submitted their memories, as well as those who listed memories on the spot.

One of the evening’s highlights was special guest, Kali Lightfoot, executive director, National Resource Center of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. Kali was instrumental in the formation of WMSC and gave an interesting talk on the history of senior colleges. She presented WMSC co-chairs with a plaque from the Maine Senior College Network, which congratulated WMSC on its tenth anniversary.

Thanks to Lauren and Peter Gailitis for taking photos.  To see all of Lauren and Peter's photos from the 10th Anniversary Dinner click here:   Lauren and Peter's Photos 

This anniversary event marked the beginning of a year of celebration and was an event especially for current members of the Senior College. Watch for announcements for future events that will involve the wider community.

For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at

Monday, August 13, 2012


by Rosabelle Tifft

“Picnic, Pickin’ and Poetry,” an annual summer social event sponsored by Western Mountains Senior College (WMSC), took place in two locations this year. Members who wanted to pick blueberries traveled to the home of Walter and Beth Brough, located on a quiet mountain slope away from the town’s traffic and neighbors. Scenic mountain views with classical music in the background made blueberry picking on the hills a pure delight. Following an hour’s picking, the hostess served homemade cookies and cool drinks as the group prepared for the second phase of the event. 
The “pickers” drove a few miles to the home of Roberta Taylor to meet up with other members for picnic and poetry. Located on another scenic spot surrounded by mountain views, all members relaxed and enjoyed their picnic lunch with friendly conversation. Snacks, salads and desserts, which members brought to share with others, added interest to the picnic.
After lunch, a number of members read poems by their favorite authors or their own original poems to the delight of all.

This casual summer social is but one of the many types of experiences that WMSC offers its members to help them connect with others.

Photos by Rosabelle Tifft and Lauren Gailitis

For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at