September means “back to school” . . . at any age

By Gina Mazza
For Butler County Senior News

Sharpen your pencils and grab that lunch box! It’s time to go back to school, even if it’s been decades since your high school or college days. Over at Butler County Community College and at other locations throughout the county, there is lots to learn—enough to keep you interested for the rest of your life—through BC3’s its Lifelong Learning program. The college offers between 250 and 300 courses at each of their campus locations (Butler, Cranberry Township, Lawrence County, Mercer County and the Upper Alleghenies) and in a variety of community sites, such as public schools, churches, retail outlets and community centers.

When polled, students cite that they love the courses because of the affordable tuition, quality instructors and wide variety of offerings and locations, according to Paul Lucas, director of BC3’s Lifelong Learning program. “Our instructors are passionate about their subjects and love to share what they know with students of any age,” he says. “The variety of classes enjoyed by our Baby boomer population varies widely and several categories of courses are popular with our mature students. Most of them come to us to learn a skill that will solve a problem in their lives or enrich their lives in some way—whether it’s improving their computer skills for better employment or investigating a hobby like painting, ham radios, or kayaking.

Technology classes
Technology classes are always popular, especially with older adults, and BC3’s instructors are well equipped to help students get up to speed with the today’s ever-evolving computers and mobile devices. “One of our most popular classes is Smart Phones for Everyone,” Paul comments. “You bring your phone to class and are able to have a group discussion with the instructor and five other students. You also complete a questionnaire listing what you would like to be able to accomplish with your cell phone; then you have a three-hour private tutoring session with the instructor so you can learn exactly what you want about your specific mobile device. It’s really practical and personalized.”
This fall, BC3 is offering two new “One and Done” courses, which are designed to introduce and investigate a technology topic in one evening. This semester, the topics will be “Facebook: One and Done” and “Pinterest: One and Done.” In these courses, students can quickly become familiar with the basics of these social media sites then dig into lesser-known features all in a few hours of class.
Other often-requested technology classes include include learning how to use software applications like Excel and QuickBooks.

Sewing, cooking and hands-on classes
New this semester will be a series of sewing classes on BC3’s Main campus in Butler. “Beginning Hand Sewing” teaches sewing basics then students can move onto “Hand Sewing: Quilting Squares.” If hand sewing isn’t for you, try “Machine Sewing: Rag Quilt”, which is being offered during daytime hours
Culinary classes are also a perennial favorite with adult students. BC3 offers cooking classes in its Culinary Kitchen on the Main Campus in Butler and at the Home Economics kitchen at Seneca Valley Middle School in Harmony. Two new classes this semester at Main campus are “Authentic Apple Strudel” and “Savory Pierogis.” At SVHS, the new “Enticing the Curious Palate” course promises to be an interesting culinary class. In addition to these courses, BC3 typically offers classes on healthy cooking and nutrition to support the mind and memory.
Other hands-on classes include “ “Quiet Water Kayaking”, “Bonsai Journey”, “Outdoor Cooking”, “Introduction to Fly Fishing” and “Backyard Beekeeping.” “These are great courses to engage with nature and investigate new hobbies without investing too much money,” Paul comments.

Other popular classes
Other BC3 courses that appeal to seniors are “Savvy Social Security and Elder Law: What You Need to Know”, which discusses how to make retirement more fulfilling and financially sound through estate planning, knowing your Social Security benefits and more.

Exercise classes are always very popular, as well. “We have a large population of students who like to get in shape and stay in shape with courses like yoga, Zumba or cardio intervals,” Paul points out, “not to mention our ever-popular Ballroom dance classes that are the cornerstone of any adult education program.”

Languages are also an important part of BC3’s Lifelong Learning curriculum. “Beginning American Sign Language” and “American Sign Language 1” are two of the most requested, along with Italian, Spanish and French classes for those who want to brush up on a language before traveling abroad.

Other offerings beyond BC3 classes
In addition to course offerings through the Lifelong Learning Department, BC3 has other opportunities for senior community members and their families. The main campus includes the popular Shaffer Walking Trail, a paved, one-mile trail for walking or running. The trail is free and open to the public from dawn to dusk. BC3’s newly remodeled library located in Heaton Learning Commons on the Main campus in Butler offers 24 open computer stations, wireless Internet access and quiet areas, as well as a deluxe café serving breakfast, sandwiches and specialty coffees. If you have a library card for any of the libraries in the community, bring it to Heaton Learning Commons in order to have access books, Internet resources and periodicals at the BC3 Library. For more information about Heaton Learning Commons or the Shaffer Walking Trail, call Jessica Matonak at (724) 287-8711, ext. 8822.

Finally, seniors receive a discount on tickets and admission to BC3’s Succop Theater. To learn more about upcoming shows, call Larry Stock at (724) 287-8711, ext. 8425 or visit

Classes have starts date ranging from August to November. Registration is open up through the start date of each class. To sign up for classes, call (724) 287-8711, ext. 8504 or go to To learn more about Lifelong Learning programs, call Paul Lucas at (724) 287-8711, ext. 8504 or by email at, or visit

Two Women Sewing Quilt Together

Men working on computers in library