"Lifelong learning" isn't just a catch phrase for members of
The Athenaeum: It's a way of life.
"We're all here for the same reason," says Burt Freedman. "We're
here to learn."
"I love the intellectual stimulation," adds Lois Tucker.
Also known as "Rochester's Academy for Learning After Fifty,"
The Athenaeum was founded in 1987 as an affiliate of RIT. Today,
426 members participate in programs that include courses, travel,
and social activities - all organized by members.
"The Athenaeum is run for and by its members," notes program
director Rose Marie Sepos. "They're a remarkable group of energetic,
interested and interesting people, and the organization really
Joan Charles joined four years ago following retirement as an elementary
teacher at Hilton Central School.
|Marilyn Gillespie (left) discusses a piece of her art
with Liz Salzman and Jack Callaghan. Gillespie gave a presentation
at The Athenaeum.
"I've learned fascinating things," says Charles. "The classes
are extremely interesting and very diverse. The knowledge we have
here is just tremendous."
Typically, 25 to 35 courses are offered during each of three
terms that run from September to May. Some courses are led by
members who have professional expertise in the subject, but many
courses come out of the leader's personal interest and independent
study. Everyone is encouraged to participate; silence is not considered
a virtue here.
"We get into discussions you wouldn't believe," says Freedman,
co-facilitator of the ever-popular movie discussion group. Other
recent course topics reflect a wide range of interests, including
Shakespeare, the Uncivil Civil War, astronomy, Anne Morrow Lindbergh
and her Gift from the Sea.
Summer brings day trips to area wineries, the Shaw Festival,
Niagara Falls, and other points of interest, always featuring
an educational component.
The Athenaeum's headquarters are on Fairwood Drive off East River
Road in Henrietta, just south of the RIT campus. Regular members
pay $225 per year, which entitles them to take as many courses
as they wish, participate in all events, and receive access to
many RIT activities and facilities including the library. There's
also a one-term trial membership ($125, applicable toward a full-year
The only prerequisite for membership is age: Members must be
50 or older.
More information about The Athenaeum is available by calling
(716) 292-8989, or on the Web at http://sss.isc.rit.edu/~athenwww/