Community Classroom: So nice to hear from someone whose life we’ve touched

Community Classroom Emily Rancier -

There are many reasons I like my job in the community classroom at The Gathering Place. This morning’s e-mail from California is one of them. A former student described her experience at Steve Kurilla’s ukulele class as “ the most fun I’ve had in years!” This lady has since moved to California, but she took the time to express her delight in a class we offered, and beyond that, to recommend another course and teacher we might consider going forward.

It is heartening to know that we made a difference in this person’s life but also that she thinks of us fondly and is interested in our future and what we might do that would be rewarding to others. I think that’s extraordinary.

Another extraordinary gesture of support came from Abington Rotary this month in the form of a $1,000 check chiefly designated toward the three-bay sink for the kitchen. With the kitchen flooring finished, the stove and microwave ordered and now the sink paid for, we feel confident we can hold our cooking classes at TGP in the spring. What a big step — to have all our classes except ballroom dance under the same roof.

The committee is working hard to present another great semester at The Gathering Place. Now that we occupy our space, we are able to bring you many ongoing programs and services, as well.

Third Tuesday has always been Book Club at noon. Craft and Chat for people with and without special needs meets at 10 a.m. on the second, third and fourth Friday and Memory Café for people with early stage Alzheimer’s and their caregivers is open on the second Friday of the month. Beginning in March, an Opioids Discussion will be presented in a four-part series of forums aimed at parents and guardians of students in grades 5-12 and beyond, with the object of ending the epidemic of drug abuse by bringing the discussion out in the open. Don’t be hesitant to join in this important conversation.

In January, we open our doors for the ABPA business card exchange. We hope many people who have not attended classes will have a chance to see our wonderful facility as we approach the Ice Festival and all the fun activities we will host.

The roster of artist-teachers is outstanding this semester. Earl Lehman, our Artist-in-Residence, will teach two 3-week classes — one on collage, another on landscape. We are so excited by this alliance with Earl. His warm enthusiasm will inspire your creative endeavors, for sure. Come in and see his work displayed in the Paul Ford Room at TGP all semester. You may want to have one of his pieces on your wall at home; please inquire.

Marylou Chibirka will be back to teach oil painting with Still-life and Florals as the theme. This is a 5-week class held in the afternoon, from 1 to 3 p.m. Wednesdays beginning April 4.

Another daytime class is led by Kristie McMahon. She will teach the Fundamentals of Wire Jewelry from 1 to 3 p.m. Thursdays, April 5 and 12; students will create one-of-a-kind wire earrings. Kristie is a well-known jewelry artist in the area, and we are pleased she’ll teach at The Gathering Place this spring.

Jeff Kuchak returns to teach the art of wooden spoon carving. This time the class will be smaller (only five students), and held two evenings for two hours each session. I love — and use almost daily — the spoon I bought from Jeff a couple of years ago. Each of his spoons is carved from the wood of trees downed in storms. Jeff is a student himself, and constantly learns new techniques in this time-worn craft.

Before Easter, you will have the chance to design and dye pysanky eggs with Tammy Budnovitch. It’s been a while since we offered this class, so we hope you will enjoy this opportunity again to create a traditional art object, especially beloved in this region of the country.

Finally, Kristina Laurito, our knitting and crochet instructor, will offer two classes — crocheted storage baskets( at students’ request), and knitting a rectangular shawl — both using simple stitches and beginners’ skills. Kristina’s classes are always full, fun, and enthusiastic. Share in the fun.

There’s a whole lot more in store for students at The Gathering Place. Noontime, mostly history, lectures on Wednesdays, cooking classes, outdoor hikes, Italian, writers’ workshop, the practice of chants in religious traditions, mindfulness, subtle energy practices, yoga, and ballroom dance (advanced American Tango and beginner West Coast Swing) will round out the schedule. More about those next time.

The brochure will be out by early February, and perhaps before that online at See you at the Ice Festival!

Community Classroom Emily Rancier Classroom Emily Rancier

Reach the Abington Journal newsroom at 570-587-1148 or by email at

Reach the Abington Journal newsroom at 570-587-1148 or by email at