Faculty, Staff and Families Enjoy Community Connections Classes
October 6, 2010
PEA adults and their families got the chance to connect around the Harkness table and beyond recently, when the Community Connections Group (CCG) launched the first set of "Saturday School Offerings" for PEA faculty and staff.
The CCG was created last fall when Principal Tom Hassan asked a group to work with him to increase the connections among adults on campus. Since its inception, the 15-strong volunteer board, which includes members from departments across campus, has hosted a variety of events.
"The PEA community is diverse and full of fascinating talents, skills and experiences," says Principal Hassan. "We wanted to give faculty, staff and their families a way to share some of those skills. The Saturday School Offerings seemed like such a great way to have people learn about each other, and share experiences in a way they might not otherwise do. I was delightfully surprised by some of the inspired topics offered. I attended a class on the Qur'an that went well over its allotted time because members of the group were so involved in the topic."
CCG put out the call to faculty and staff in early August: "Have some hidden talent or ability or interest you wish to share with the Academy Community?" they asked. In response, PEA faculty and staff put together a list of over 20 classes. Topics varied widely, from creative how-to classes to history and humor. The course offerings clearly hit the spot, with more than 140 people signing up.
Peter Vorkink, religion instructor and member of CCG, orchestrated the setting up of the classes. "The classes bring together people from all walks of Academy life around a common task," he says. "They give PEA faculty, staff and their families a chance to work together as friends and colleagues in an environment that is different from their normal work environment."
In just under an hour, participants learned how to knit and how to make a fleece blanket, ice wine or an admirable paella. Nature enthusiasts took a birding tour, while others did a walking tour through historic downtown Exeter or a walking tour of the Academy's trails. Local history buffs discussed the Boston Massacre or joined walking tours of PEA's historic buildings and the Academy's "Hidden Places and Spaces." Others learned about the Qur'an, physics, puppetry, Beethoven's Eroica and Native American totems. The list of courses was capped off by a writing workshop and a fictional admissions case study (would Jay Gatsby, Scarlett O'Hara and Juliet Capulet get into college?).
For some, the allotted time wasn't nearly long enough. The paella class continued for over 2 hours, and has agreed to meet monthly to share more recipes. "The paella-making class was awesome," says Amy Nishimura, who works in Exeter's Information Technology Services Department. "There are so many steps to do, it would be time-consuming to make by yourself. Our group had tons of fun making this delicious dish together!"
The CCG has sponsored monthly community birthday parties, holiday parties, food donations, tickets to a Red Sox game at Fenway Park in Boston, and special classes.
Learn more about CCG at their newly launched website: www.exeter.edu/community. Future CCG events will be posted soon.
– Nicole Pellaton