2014-12-31 / Senior Savvy

King House Abuzz in the New Year

By Florence Archambault

Anyone at the Edward King House Senior Center a couple of weeks ago might have been overwhelmed at what was taking place. Almost every room had some sort of class going on – from medieval history to exercise – and there were three stations set up in the foyer to field questions about Medicare benefits.

Part of this increased activity is due to the Newport Circle of Scholars, a lifelong learning organization that has made the center its home. The inaugural semester just concluded, with 19 classes in diverse topics ranging from international affairs to jazz offered. It was a smashing success.

If you are tired of bridge, mahjong, and other activities and want a little more stimulation, then the Newport Circle of Scholars may be for you. Studies have shown that seniors who keep their brains active benefit greatly. Mental exercise is like physical exercise: the more you do, the more you can do. Most classes have both a lecture and reading component, and they are taught by a variety of experts, with former college professors, naturalists, and other area professionals at the podium.

Returning to the classroom can not only enhance your mental acuity, but the closeness of the class and interaction with your fellow students can help alleviate the feelings of isolation that many seniors experience. The Newport Circle of Scholars offers courses during the day, Tuesday to Friday.

If you are coming for a class, why not plan to enjoy lunch? Lunch at the center is one of the best deals in town. It includes a full meal or, if you wish, a sandwich, for a donation of $3. Reservations must be made 24 hours in advance.

The course and lecture schedule for the winter/spring session running January to May is varied. Offerings range from Newport history taught by Eileen Warburton (that’s the one I’m taking) to nature, art, and current events. How about “Genealogical Research in Ireland” or “Getting the Most Out of Your Time” or even a one-day session on “Disappearing Honeybees”? The focus of the program is not just academic or intellectual, but to foster lifelong learning.

Most courses run four to five weeks, but there are some one-day seminars. The prices range from $10 to $65. They are a little higher for non-members but membership in the Newport Circle of Scholars is included with an Edward King House Senior Center membership.

Making a New Year’s resolution to take advantage of the Newport Circle of Scholars might actually allow you to boast that you finally made one that you kept. The complete program and registration form will appear in the King House January newsletter.

The King House will also begin its popular classes on exercise and health issues in January. All necessary information will be in the newsletter, but you won’t get a newsletter unless you are a member, so now is the time to sign up. Call the center at 401-846-7426 for more information.

The Middletown and Portsmouth centers are also gearing up to start winter programming. If you are not looking forward to winter, they provide opportunities to get out of the house and mingle with peers, renew old friendships and make new ones.

Life is a two way street, and we have to learn that sometimes we must make our own happiness. If you don’t reach out, you will not receive anything in return.

As John Mason Good (1764- 1827) wrote in “The Book of Nature”: “Now happiness consists in activity: such is the constitution of our nature: it is a running stream, and not a stagnant pool.”

Happy New Year!

Florence Archambault, of Newport, is 84 years young and well-known for her community volunteerism and teaching and writing family history.

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