Fall program series features unique learning opportunities

Opera, calligraphy and sign language have little in common, but a new fall program series at the E.B. and Bertha C. Ball Center has managed to bring them together.

The center, located at 400 Minnetrista Blvd., began its fall program series in September, featuring classes on subjects from opera to sign language throughout October and November.

"We get a lot of the ideas for our classes from the community," said Nancy Lindley, the center's assistant director.

Lindley said the choice of classes changes every year, with language, calligraphy and interior design as staples in the recreational curriculum.

"If there are other ideas we have, we find someone who will be able to teach it," Lindley said.

Additional course choices include conversational Spanish, French or German. Lindley said such language classes fill up quickly with couples looking to travel abroad. The program also offers a course in sign language.

"The (language) classes are conversational, " Lindley said. "They focus on phrasing and recognizing words."

Lindley said a majority of people enrolled in the classes also apply the language to their career.

"They want to make sure they can handle their students or clientele," Lindley said, explaining how a second language can help in the process.

Students may choose some of the programs in the series students for more personal reasons.

Eva Farmar of Randolph County came to the center to take the sign language after reading about the series in a newspaper.

"My 4-year-old granddaughter signs because of a disability," Farmar said. "I wanted to be able to communicate with her."

Other classes focus on the arts, such as calligraphy, literature and opera.

The "Opera, Opera, Opera" class, offered Nov. 12, briefly explores opera singers, famous stories and operatic history. A second music program, "On the Road to the Opera," offers a bus ride to the first two performances of the Indianapolis Opera's 2002-2003 season.

After the performance, participants are brought to the center for dinner. The center also offers book discussion groups and a crime fiction festival.

Lindley said the majority of the classes in the series are taught primarily by community members - such as area artists or pharmacists - but some classes are taught by current or former Ball State faculty members.

Ann Ogden Siverly, artist and former Ball State teacher, instructs Interior Design 101 at the center. She said she keeps her classes at about 10 students to provide the opportunity for individual help with projects. Siverly focuses on furniture arranging, selecting fabrics, color and drawing a room to scale.

"A lot of people come in with a room they want to arrange to use as their project," Siverly said.

Although she said mostly homeowners are drawn to her class, Siverly wishes more college students would join in.

Lindley said college students are welcome to enroll in classes, but can receive no credit for participating in the center's program.

Some students manage to find the time away from academic classes to participate in the program.

Senior Amber Penrod enrolled in the sign language class after noticing the center offered such an opportunity.

"I had always been interested in learning sigh language," Penrod said. "In my career, I want to educate the community about health practices."

Classes meet on an average of once a week, with the duration depending on the class. Fees range from $20 - $60.


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