Encore University offers classes, activities for students over 50

Actress Patti Hannon, far left, makes an appearance at Encore University's registration event on Oct. 6 at Valley Presbyterian Church in Paradise Valley. Hannon will be teaching "Improv Acting" at the school's upcoming session. (Photo by Dolores Tropiano)

Actress Patti Hannon, far left, makes an appearance at Encore University’s registration event on Oct. 6 at Valley Presbyterian Church in Paradise Valley. Hannon will be teaching “Improv Acting” at the school’s upcoming session. (Photo by Dolores Tropiano)

“Late Nite Catechism” star Patti Hannon energized Encore University’s fall semester kick-off event on Oct. 6.

Ms. Hannon, who made Presbyterian church history in her Catholic habit, razzed students at the registration event on Oct. 6, offering prayers and even novenas for the nasty ones.

And they loved it.

The award-winning actress, who plays Sister in long-running show at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, is teaching “Improv Acting” during the school’s first of three sessions beginning the week of Oct. 14.

The school is located on the campus of  Valley Presbyterian Campus, 6947 E. McDonald Road, in Paradise Valley. Encore offers a diverse program of artistic and intellectual classes, special events, speakers, cultural experiences, and adventure and travel. Encore excursions this year include short trips throughout Arizona and a 17-day tour of Turkey.

Joe Finnerty of Scottsdale signed up for Ms. Hannon’s class, one of nearly 50 offered for the 50-plus population in Paradise Valley, Scottsdale and other areas of the Valley.

He was drawn by Encore’s arts and humanity classes taught by what he described as “the best of the best” — experienced and knowledgeable teachers. Nearly 300 students are already signed up for the school’s first semester. The next session begins in January.

“I plan to chew gum the entire class,” said Mr. Finnerty, who sat beside a walker before signing up for three classes including “The Golden Age of Hollywood.”

The pre-semester party featured music by Link Linkin’s four piece band, art and an assortment of gourmet appetizers.

“You know in the old days we would beat the hell out of you for that,” joked Ms. Hannon, “You better get some wheels for that walker because you are going to need them.”

Ms. Hannon is one of several top-tier talents available to students this session. Former Sen. Jon Kyl and Arizona Republic columnist Rob Robb are on board for the first Saturday morning breakfast speaker series on Nov. 14.

Bob Boze Bell, dubbed  Arizona’s most outrageous historian, is teaching “Where Truth is Stranger than Fiction.” Other classes are being offered in art (“Impressionism – the other French Revolution”) and music history, culinary and creative arts, language, religion, online buying and selling, technology and even tai chi chih.

Five-week classes are $35. The school catalog and registration is available at encoreuniv.org or by calling 480-991-6424.

Lou-ellen Finter, professor emerita of music education, attended the event. She will be teaching J.S. Bach and George F. Handel this session. Ms. Finter, who has taught for 46 years, joked, “I have never had a complaint from either of the composers so I must be doing a good job.”

Now its third year, Encore University is a non-profit within Valley Presbyterian Church.

The mission of the school is to have students build new relationships, foster a sense of community, study scripture, participate in  lifelong learning,  experience enriched lives and faith and continue to make a difference in the community. The school’s success speaks to the fact that it is meeting a real need in the community.

“Encore University is wonderful,” said David Joynt, senior pastor for Valley Presbyterian Church. “It’s a great place to make new friends. It really is a community building experience.”

Ms. Tropiano is a volunteer correspondent at the North Valley Office of Independent Newsmedia.

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