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The learning Never Stops

Lifelong Learning Academy draws serious students

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November 24th, 2015

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The most popular program at Ann’s Choice is its Lifelong Learning Academy (ACLLA). Its slate of classes at Erickson Living’s retirement community in Bucks County, Pa., gets better each year.

Totally resident-run, ACLLA’s 40-member panel organizes, publicizes, and manages the program. It’s open exclusively to Ann’s Choice residents. 

The panel strives to offer engaging and thought-provoking lectures that will appeal to the diverse interests of the 2,100-plus population living at Ann’s Choice. 

Scores of additional volunteers help with registration and at each class. Residents even handle technology, not only setting up for PowerPoint presentations and film clips, but controlling the lighting and audio. 

Every presentation takes place in the community’s 300-seat-capacity performing arts center. Residents simply walk down the hall to attend. 

ACLLA 101

Each ACLLA lecture costs a modest $15. But residents can sign up for all 20 lectures for just $50. That’s unheard of at other lifelong learning programs.

With its proceeds, ACLLA last year presented more than $6,000 in scholarships to students who work in the campus restaurants at Ann’s Choice. It also made a generous contribution to the Benevolent Care Fund that provides assistance to residents in genuine financial need.

ACLLA has become a drawing card for new residents. Maureen Guim, who moved from Abington, says that several new people have told her it played a role in their decision-making on moving to Ann’s Choice.

The comments were music to Maureen’s ears because she chairs ACLLA’s four-person course selection committee, a dedicated group of knowledge seekers who search out presenters capable of enthralling an audience on subjects that range from music and visual arts to history and science.

Committee member Herb Addison and his wife moved to Ann’s Choice just in time to sign up for ACLLA’s spring 2013 lectures.

The Addisons had expected light, entertaining presentations. What they found were discussions of ideas, philosophies, and cultures across a broad spectrum of disciplines. “The lecturers entertained you with ideas,” Herb says.

A retired acquisitions editor for a trade and academic publisher, Herb soon offered his skills to the course selection committee.

ACLLA also benefits from Maureen’s background. The former assistant dean in the College of Graduate Studies at Arcadia University has contacts at most of the area’s colleges and universities, a prime source for lecturers.

The Internet and YouTube videos play a role in locating top presenters, too. Committee member Lee Berkley even checks lecturers out in person.

A Shakespeare scholar she found at DeSales College will lecture about The Bard this coming spring. 

Last year, after hearing him speak, Lee recommended a criminal defense attorney who subsequently gave an enlightening lecture about why he defends people, many of whom are guilty. 

Lee joined the committee to give back; ACLLA is one of the reasons she lives at Ann’s Choice. 

When she and her late husband picked up a course catalog at one of the community’s sales luncheons, “I knew this was the place for us,” Lee says. “We’d find people who were equally curious and enjoyed learning.”

Had they moved to a smaller retirement community, she adds, they’d never have found such an extensive and eclectic program. 

One convenience after another

Besides the excellent lectures, Ann’s Choice residents doubly appreciate that ACLLA’s presentations take place on campus. Unless a lecturer can’t make it, snow won’t cancel a class. 

That on-site convenience also extends to doctors’ appointments at the full-service medical center, gym workouts at the fitness center, and laps in the all-season swimming pool at the aquatics center.

Ann’s Choice also provides two creative arts studios, a postal center, two banks, a library in each of its three clubhouses, spa salons, and five distinct restaurants.

There’s also a nondenominational chapel, a banquet room, and a performing arts center. 

Plus, because climate-controlled hallways and bridges connect every building, the lifestyle is weatherproof. 

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