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Anacortes Senior College

Our Classes

All’s Well that Ends Well


with Richard Wagner

Calendar May 1, 2018 at 3:30 pm, runs for 3 weeks

Our culture is notorious for denying death. Most of us will live our dying in a vacuum of useful information and meaningful human interaction. But few of us ask: Will my death be good? Will it be wise? Does it even matter? The marginal status we assign to the end of life, with all its fear, anger, anxiety, and isolation, is what we will inevitably inherit in our own dying days. But, there is a better way. Together, let’s master the Practical Aspects of the End of Life. This fun and interactive class is geared toward seniors and those who love them.  (3 weeks: 5/1, 8, 15) 

Instructor: Richard Wagner, Ph.D. Dr. Wagner – therapist, author, death educator and coach – has been working with terminally ill, elderly, and dying people in hospitals, hospice, and home settings for over 30 years. He facilitates support groups for care-providers and clinical personnel, and provides grief counseling for survivors. 

Beginning Birding


with Joe Halton

Calendar May 3, 2018 at 3:30 pm, runs for 3 weeks

In this class we will discuss various aspects of enjoying our small feathered friends, including helpful equipment, improving backyard habitat, and identification of local species. Handouts and slide presentations will spice up our appreciation of this amazing variety of local fauna!  (3 weeks: May 3, 10, 17)

Instructor: Joe Halton Joe moved to Anacortes after retiring from Texas state government in 2000. He’s been an active birder for over 25 years, and he and his wife have “birded” in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, and other western states. After moving to Anacortes he developed a beginning birding program that he taught for Skagit Audubon for years. His other hobbies include photography and writing.

Full Course

Health Fads—Fact or Fiction


with Patricia Downing

Calendar Apr 10, 2018 at 3:30 pm, runs for 3 weeks

Almost every day we are bombarded in the media with some new “scientific” finding about what we should do to improve our health: drink coffee, don’t drink coffee; eat chocolate, don’t eat chocolate. Take a daily aspirin, don’t take aspirin; eat salt, don’t eat salt. Avoid carbohydrates; eat fats. What should we believe? This course will include the latest information about these and other current health fads—which to believe, which to ignore, and how to tell the difference. Hint: the news about chocolate is getting sweeter! (Class size limited to 10 students.)

Instructor: Patricia Downing Patricia is a registered nurse, clinical nurse specialist, author of nursing texts, and nurse educator with extensive experience in health education inside and outside the U.S. She earned a B.S. in Nursing from Wayne State University and a Master’s from the University of Washington.

Full Course

Religion in America


with Jim Barrett

Calendar Apr 12, 2018 at 3:30 pm, runs for 6 weeks

It is often stated that America is the most religious of all the developed countries. What makes religion in our country so different from everywhere else, and how did we get this way? This continuation of the “Understanding Religion” course will look into the answer to these questions. We will also take a look at the major religions practiced in our country and what differences there are between them. We are a very diverse and interesting religious country with a unique history.

Instructor: Jim Barrett, Ed.D.Jim received his BA from Western Washington Univ. and his masters and doctorate from the Univ. of Washington in Higher Education. He was employed by the UW for 32 years in several Health Science positions and retired as Director of the Dept. of Health Sciences Center for Educational Resources and as an affiliate professor in the Dept. of Medical Education. For the past several years he has researched and written on the subject of comparative religion.

Some Memorable Forest Insects


with Robert Gara

Calendar Apr 12, 2018 at 3:30 pm, runs for 6 weeks

First, we will be introduced to the insects and learn how to identify four insect orders. We will see how insect anatomy is unique and how it has evolved to fit the ecological roles they play, e.g., as herbivores, parasitoides, predators, etc. We will also discover how forest insects produce severe changes to our forests and we’ll be introduced to specific species that change forest ecosystems. During our discussions on specific forest insects we’ll understand how they drastically affect forest management objects and explore ways to manage pest outbreaks. Of all known types of animals on our planet, 75% are insects—over a million species! In this class, we will learn how to recognize four insect orders, the forms and functions of insect anatomy, and the beneficial roles they play as pollinators, predators and parasitoids. We will also discover how insects interact and compete with us for food and fiber as well as how they degrade our health and our standard of living.

Instructor: Robert Gara, Ph.D. [Professor Emeritus, Univ. of Washington] Dr. Gara earned a BS in Forest Management at Utah State University. During summers of 1951–53 he worked as a smokejumper in Idaho. After four years in the U.S. Air Force, he worked in East Texas as a forest manager. His M.S.and Ph.D. degrees in Entomology are from Oregon State University. He directed a research lab for the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research in Texas, taught forest entomology at the State College of Forestry at Syracuse University, was a Fulbright Scholar in Chile, Venezuela & Ecuador, and, in 1968, came to the College of Forest Resources at the University of Washington. He retired to Anacortes in 2006.

The Civil War


with Jim Strong

Calendar Apr 10, 2018 at 3:30 pm, runs for 6 weeks

The American Civil War was one of great complexity and brutality. Families were literally torn apart and in some cases nearly exterminated. The first modern concept of “total war” evolved. This course will explore several aspects of the war, including combat heroes of lessor stature and the all-important home front. The instructor was born and raised in western Tennessee, and has ancestors whose lives were ended in the conflict.

Instructor: Jim Strong Jim earned a B.A. in Chemistry from Southwestern at Memphis and his M.S. in Chemistry from the Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville. He taught chemistry, geology, and oceanography in Michigan and Pennsylvania and retired in 2005 after 20 years at South Puget Sound Comm. College in Olympia. He also spent five years in research & development in the steel industry.

The History of Tools


with Paul Thorne

Calendar Apr 10, 2018 at 3:30 pm, runs for 6 weeks

The Invention and use of tools has defined human history. Tools enable people to accomplish tasks that exceed their limited natural capabilities. This class will examine how tools developed and how they affect our daily lives. The tools that we use today were developed from the end of the stone age through the iron age; all of our modern instruments and devices derived from these basic implements. We will look at tools as they moved us through recorded history and into the Industrial Age.

Instructor: Paul Thorne. Paul is a master blacksmith with over thirty years’ experience in industrial, architectural, and artistic forge work. He currently teaches blacksmithing through group and private classes at his Anacortes studio. You can view his work at

The Tankers of Puget Sound


with Sol Kohlhaas

Calendar Apr 12, 2018 at 3:30 pm, runs for 3 weeks

This brief course will involve exploring the mighty tankers that come and go every day around our enchanted island. Types, sizes, structure, crew, and missions will be explained by one who knows these great vessels intimately. (3 weeks: 4/12, 19, 26) 

Instructor: Captain Sol Kohlhaas USCG licensed Master Unlimited Tonnage Upon Oceans. Sol has sailed on a variety of oil tankers on the U.S. East, Gulf, and West coasts. He also managed tank ships and ATBs for OSG out of their headquarters in Tampa, Fl. Sol is currently the Port Captain for Andeavor (formerly Tesoro) here in Anacortes where he ensures all vessels working on the Salish Sea contracted by Andeavor operate as safely and with as little impact on the environment as possible.

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