Sunday, May 26, 2013

A Final Wrap-up of WMSC's Tenth Anniversary

(The following article will be appearing the the June edition of the Maine Senior College Network's Newsletter)

 "Bridging the Generations" - a Public Celebration

by Nancy Davis 

The Western Mountains Senior College celebrated its tenth anniversary this year. We received a Chamber of Commerce commemoration last spring, the member dinner in September was a huge success, and we were trying out options for the public celebration we had targeted for this spring. Our ho-hum ideas finally coalesced into a very exciting project. Bridging the Generations - or What do your grandparents do all day? was held on May 2 in the community’s high school cafeteria. 

The concept for this community event derived from two projects, both successful collaborations for the past several years. For the third annual combined art project, our students and the advanced middle school art class exchanged beginning art pieces and finished each other’s illustrations. This summer the middle school garden project will, for the fourth year, benefit from a highly organized summer program of WMSC “Garden Masters” and local businesses.

Bethel Senior Citizens display designed by Telstar Middle School students.
We had also, in recent months, made good progress in working with the local Senior Citizens group. And finally, several youth organizations in the area had - fortunate for us! - identified working with seniors as an annual goal.
The food, prepared by seniors and students.  Not surprisingly, none was left!
Combining all these preliminary initiatives, we formed a planning committee headed by a WMSC team and expanded to involve a wide variety of local organizations. Throughout the early spring, seniors from both WMSC and the Senior Citizens group met with middle school classes on collaborative projects in art, music, creative writing, drama, community needs, and cooking, all of which were exhibited or presented (or consumed!) at the May 2nd event. 

We are excited about the interactions and learning that occurred and the resulting
Lego robotics team demonstrating their project.
projects that were featured at the event. In addition to the projects described above, a middle school robotics team demonstrated an elaborate project they had constructed to portray the challenges facing elders. Another group had produced an attractive, heart-felt endorsement for the community’s dog park initiative. The Local Foods Connection demonstrated how seniors could become part of the local buying group.

Telstar Interact students introducing volunteer day.
One especially exciting outcome was a volunteer day (which grew to two days) last weekend. The high school Interact group had for some time envisioned such a project, but needed a vehicle to make it happen, and the Bridging the Generations event met that need. In 13 different projects, youngsters performed household and property services for community seniors who had registered with Interact. This event, having laid the groundwork (so to speak), is sure to continue into the future.

Roberta Taylor and student thespian from The Eddy Middle School.
Our intergenerational celebration was a huge success and certainly propelled WMSC and its mission into major community awareness. It enabled the college to significantly contribute to a growing spirit of collaboration within the Bethel community.

The audience at the May 2 celebration.
photos by Melissa Prescott

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

Monday, May 20, 2013

On a Good Day - WMSC/TMS Poetry Collaboration

Ruth and Jim Bebko from the WMSC Creative writing class teamed up with several Telstar Middle School students in writing a collaborative poem.  They chose "A Good Day" as their topic. Here is their poem, which they read on May 2 at the Tenth Anniversary Celebration "Bridging the Generations."

On a Good Day

Ruth Bebko

We met four young ladies from Telstar
Who hoped to be poets exemplar.
      They played with Haiku
       As we seniors did too.
So hear our new products so far.


Bailey Daniels

I get up so slow
The dew drops feel like heaven
Morning sun peaks out

School still feels boring
But my friends are still the best
With them I can laugh

Walk into the dark
Listen to the warm breeze
This was a good day


Ana Rossow

Waking to the bright sun,
Shining gently through my window,
Covering the world in glow.

Jumping into the
Cool, blue water of the lake,
Swimming all day long


Jim Bebko

Sunrise over the ridge
        Awake, alive, feeling good
                  A day ahead - plans

Sun at zenith
       Chores over, hobby time spent
                  Brighten another's day

Learning something new
        Good book and music enjoyed
                  Some exercise too

Sunset over mountains
         Pleasant meal, friend's conversation
                   A good day, good night


Marta Opie

I run downstairs to
and find an awesome surprise
Bacon sizzling OMNOM

friends are laughing
at the lake we swim
in the bright sun


Anna Montagna

 A good day is great
Good days are so relaxing
A good day is nice
Good days are very amazing
A good day is calm


Mrs. Prescott

sun in the morning
windmills on the horizon
in love with Friday

neon yellow wheels
leather and laces tied up
rollerskate day dream

sneakers on pavement
moving, strong, beautiful
April ice can't last


Ruth Bebko

So, using Haiku as our way
With our poems we have tried to convey
              That regardless of age
               Be it, youthful or grayed
We just wish you a very good day.

Telstar Middle School students and Jim Bebko reading their collaborative poem at WMSC's 10th Anniversary Celebration.
photo Melissa Prescott                                                                                                                                             

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

Featured in The Poet's Corner - WMSC's own Karen Mills!

(The following poem, Memories, written by WMSC member Karen Mills, was published in The Poet's Corner of the May edition of the Maine Senior College Network's newsletter.)


Feeling the warm sunshine on my face
Listening to the rhythmic creak of my rocking
Eyes closed and smiling
Memories flood my carefree and untroubled
Nana--her warm blue eyes twinkling
Mom--never idle
Sisters and brother--I can hear their voices
My children and now grandchildren unique and
Oh how these years fly by!

Childhood memories--they are warming my
My best friend Diane--forever true and still is
Penny candy--we shared
Pets-cats-rats, rabbits, birds--oh the stories I
     could tell
The ocean--sights and sounds so soothing
Beaches--hot white sand and warm sun

I used to wonder what was going through my
     mother's mind when she sat in this same
     rocking chair--in the sun smiling
Now I know

My younger years are gone forever
Sweet warm memories remain
I open my eyes to my little grandson looking at
Great big blue eyes and he asked
"Grandma why are you smiling?"
I look at his smiling face and tell him he will
     someday know

- by Karen Mills, Western Mountains Senior College

To see Karen's poem in the MSCN Newsletter click on Memories

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

In Case You Missed It..... WMSC in the News

Earlier this month the Lewiston Sun Journal published a report on WMSC's Tenth Anniversary Celebration "Bridging the Generations."  It was recently reprinted in The Bethel CitizenTo see the article click on Senior citizens, students collaborate on artistic projects

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

Monday, May 13, 2013

Farewell to Lynn & Joe Arizzi

by Barb Dion
….And a good time was had by all!

On Tuesday, May 7, the Senior College Players paid tribute to Lynn & Joe Arizzi for all they have done to advance the arts in Bethel. Barb Dion opened the evening by greeting all the attendees, which included members of the Senior College Players, as well as representatives of the Bethel School Board and Rotary Club. Lynn and Joe were active participants in both town endeavors. Lynn was also the founder of the WMSC Senior Players, and Joe was our photojournalist extraordinaire.

Norman Milliard spent many hours compiling a CD containing photos taken of the Players’ performances from the very beginning in 2006 to the most recent Christmas show. As each picture was displayed on the screen, everyone was amazed how quickly Lynn was able to identify the exact play it came from! The Senior College Players then presented a short skit highlighting some of our favorite and funniest lines from the past.

Ross Timberlake invited everyone to share their fondest memories of our honored guests, and many people were happy to oblige.

On behalf of the Players, Rosabelle Tifft presented the Arizzis with an original painting by talented local artist Peter Musso Jr. They also received engraved steins that Rosabelle mentioned would be perfect for enjoying a drink while sitting on their new lanai in Florida!

We will sorely miss Lynn & Joe – for what they gave not only to the WMSC but also to the town of Bethel. They will be very hard to replace. We wish them well in their new Florida adventure.

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

Matters of Faith in America

by Susan Herlihy 

The 23 students in Dan Johnson's spring class, Matters of Faith in America, reflected a wide variety of religious faiths, as well as apathy and atheism. Dan's masterful planning allowed for the inclusion of many faiths and thousands of years of tradition, with presentations that were objective, factual, and without bias. Participant input was encouraged, enriching the learning experience.

Colonial Religion (Week 1) was characterized by Native American practices, with their reverence for the natural world, and the arrival of the Puritans, who were seeking a place to enjoy religious freedom. Tidbit: In Colonial times sheep were synonymous with good people; bad people, goats. Scapegoats anyone? Anglicans, Catholics, Quakers, Jews, Mormons, Muslims, etc. all developed a presence in America, and Christianity was to have no place of privilege in the new country that espoused religious freedom.

Week 2 explored Secularism: civil religion, Humanism, agnosticism, private spiritual beliefs, and atheism. Scott Hynek and Laurence Austen provided insight into atheism.

Judaism was Week 3’s topic, focusing on the scripture of the first five books of the Bible (the Pentateuch or Torah) and the Diaspora, Crusades, Zionism, Third Reich, the establishment of Israel, and U.S. Judaism's Orthodox, Conservative & Reform branches. Thank you, Paula, for your input which provided such enrichment.

Session 4 covered Christianity's beginning as a sect of Judaism in 30 CE (Common Era) and its spread through the writings as they’re preserved in the New Testament, ending with a look at religion in America today. Included were the mainline denominations – Roman Catholics, Episcopalians, Methodists, African Methodist Episcopalians, Baptists (American & Southern), Congregationalists, and Presbyterians - as well as those outside the mainline - Pentecostal groups, Christian Science, Quakers, Shakers, Amish, Mormons, and Jehovah's Witnesses.

In the 5th session, led by Marvin Ouwinga, we learned about Islam. Several snippets from this session included that much of the Quran was written on scraps of leather or bone; “jihad” can refer to an individual’s inner struggle of conscience as well as an outright fight or war; and the differences between the Sunni & Shiite sects are major.

Session 6 was added to include an overview of Eastern religions: Hinduism, Confucianism, Taoism, Shintoism and Buddhism. Bonnie Pooley held us rapt as she shared her personal journey as a practicing Buddhist.

Participants view this course as “just the tip of the iceberg” of such a vast topic and see its potential as the foundation for a follow-up course. They appreciate the instructor's breadth of knowledge on this set of topics, his thorough preparation, his stimulating presentation of the material, and his openness in sharing the floor with others in order to provide the fullest learning experience.

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

Monday, May 6, 2013

Genealogy: Jeanie's-alogy

by Barb Dion

Did you ever wonder about the man in the faded photograph that hung on your parents’ wall? What about the old diary you found in a trunk in the attic – are you related to this writer named Ellen Smith? Western Mountains Senior College’s newest course, Genealogy, can help you answer these questions.

A small but enthusiastic group of students, led by instructor Jeanie Waite, explored the various ways we can research our ancestors. Jeanie spoke about the wealth of information that can be discovered by accessing old birth records, ship’s passenger lists, census reports, and many other online references. She stressed that there are many free web sites that offer clues to our past, as well as paid sites such as Jeanie, who is an historian, showed us the value of maps in pinpointing the area in which our ancestors may have lived. This is especially valuable when searching in other parts of the world where borders may have changed through the years.
Once you start digging into the past, it’s very hard to stop! Each new discovery makes you want to look even further because you never know who will show up in your family tree!

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