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Bayview-based learning center launches with eclectic classes

Susan Prentiss, Ruth Cox, Mary Balph, Beck Paffrath and Don Wodjenski watch a student-created photo slideshow during a recent Digital Photography Workshop with the Whidbey Island Community Education Center.  - Photo courtesy of Rich Parker
Susan Prentiss, Ruth Cox, Mary Balph, Beck Paffrath and Don Wodjenski watch a student-created photo slideshow during a recent Digital Photography Workshop with the Whidbey Island Community Education Center.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Rich Parker

Students on Whidbey Island have an eclectic course load this fall.

There’s e-commerce safety and digital photography, and then there’s Wine Appreciation 101. All are for learners well out of the K-12 school system and offered by the Whidbey Island Community Education Center. The continued learning program opened its doors at the recently vacated Bayview School, which is being leased from the South Whidbey School District for $1,000 per month starting in March.

“We want to really enhance the whole South Whidbey community by providing cultural enrichment,” said Rich Parker, the center’s executive director.

“We’re looking to provide educational experiences to people who are retired or just retired, seniors a little bit older than that, those people in the middle part of their career and want to develop more skills.”

For now, the program has a limited schedule of workshops. Two of the workshops were one day and lasted a couple of hours, costing $20 and $40. The three-session digital photography workshop cost $60, which Parker said was along the program’s general cost of $20-per session. Classes five to eight weeks long, lectures and workshops are planned for the new year.

The education center spawned from a desire to keep Whidbey’s residents active. Then it was expanded to include hobbies and even retooling adults for a second career. Parker has met with instructors interested in teaching classes on meditation, cooking, self publishing and pottery, just to name a few.

One problem has presented itself to the education center’s leadership: viability. Parker had a survey on the center’s website to understand who was interested in taking a workshop, and what courses they wanted. As of mid-November, women between 40 and 55 years old were the main demographic that responded. Their interests varied widely.

“This is community driven, which means if you have an idea and there’s a bunch of people interested in it, we’re going to find a way to make it happen,” he said.

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