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FDLTCC offer classes for senior citizens

Sterling Rathsack explains to the students that they are not creating exact replicas of the photo. "It's your own reality," Rathsack explained. He is also an art instructor at the college. Jamie Lund/Pine Journal1 / 5
Cheri Demenge, left, and Kathy Melancon paint with watercolors during a "College for Seniors" course. Photo courtesy of FDLTCC2 / 5
From left, "College for Seniors" students Bonnie Wenborg, Kathie Sarkela, Marie Bonneville and Mary LaBlanc practice painting. Photo courtesy of FDLTCC3 / 5
Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College art instructor Sterling Rathsack demonstrates how to blend watercolor paints together to create a work of art. Jamie Lund/Pine Journal4 / 5
From left, Jeanne Jauss, Kathie Sarkela, Mary LaBlanc and "College for Seniors" instructor Sterling Rathsack create art during a recent class. Photo courtesy of FDLTCC5 / 5

A group of 14 adults gather around Sterling Rathsack, watching closely as he demonstrates how to mix paint colors together to create another color. He glances at several photographs projected onto a big screen for everyone to see. He dips the paintbrush into a glass of water and pulls it across the 5-by-7 piece of paper.

"Look at the pictures," the instructor said. "Then take the colors and run them together with a little bit of water." Once again he demonstrated, taking the wet brush and pulling it through the blues and grays of his watercolor painting.

The people around him nodded and look duly impressed. When he finished, the two-hour "Portable Watercolors" class at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College in Cloquet was almost over. Several people packed up and left, while a few worked on their paintings.

Jody Vinopal sat down to continue her artwork.

"It was awesome," Vinopal said of the class. "I love it — it's relaxing and you don't have to stay inside the lines." She said she always wanted to learn how to paint, and the one-time, two-hour class fit her schedule.

"It's fun to watch people get it," Rathsack said. "It's not rocket science."

Rathsack is an art instructor at the college and volunteered to teach the "College for Seniors" course. He said he enjoys the change of teaching traditional-age students in his regular classes to teaching the seniors. He noted that whether it's the traditional college art classes or the senior classes, they are always filled.

Bonnie Wenborg had a career in graphic arts and illustrations at some area businesses before she retired.

"I don't take the time at home to do anything, so I take the classes," she said. "I'm with a group of people. That makes it more fun."

The non-credit "College for Seniors" sessions at FDLTCC offer the opportunity for residents ages 55 and older to learn something new in a few short hours or a few classes. Class sizes average 6-12 people and the cost is usually $5-$20.

"We welcome all people to come in," said Stacey Johnson, Continuing Education assistant administrator.

The college is also seeking volunteers to teach "College for Seniors" classes. Among popular topics are genealogy, writing, economics and current events. The classes are usually 9-11 a.m., 1-3 p.m. or 3-5 p.m.

Visit or call Stacey at 218- 879-0775 for more information.