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March 2024 Newsletter

The Inside Scoop

Welcome to The Inside Scoop, our electronic newsletter. Please enjoy this issue and share your feedback by email. We always look forward to hearing from you. This is the March 2024 edition of The Inside Scoop.

Spring 2024 Semester

You Can Still Register!

The Spring 2024 term is now underway. It’s so wonderful to see so many of our members in-person or on Zoom. Haven’t registered yet? No worries! There’s still time to dive into our diverse array of courses. Please go to our Courses page on our website for course descriptions or to register.

Check out these classes starting in April with space available for you! More choices in our catalog!

Curious about Ranked Choice Voting?

Voters in Arlington County’s 2024 primary for an open seat on the County Board will have the opportunity to cast ballots using ranked choice voting. This method of voting has been used in a dozen or more states and localities with noteworthy success. Advocates say it helps to keep elections focused on issues, not personalities, and assures that a victorious candidate has support from a majority of voters.

If the concept seems confusing—or intriguing, register now for Encore Learning’s course, Ranked Choice Voting: The Future of Elections? The course, on Zoom, begins Monday, April 1 at 10:00 AM and will continue through April 22. Liz White of UpVote Virginia will lead the course.

Climate Change and Changing U.S. Cities: What Should We Expect in the Near Future?

Mondays at 12:00 PM starting 4/1 at GMU and on Zoom (hybrid)

Gain insight into the impact of climate change on urban environments and explore the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.


Living Legacy: The Art and Science of Being Remembered

Tuesdays at 10:00 AM starting 4/2 at GMU

From financial organization to ethical wills, this course offers guidance for crafting a legacy that reflects your values and vision.

Digital Storytelling: Writing for Local History

Wednesdays at 2:00 PM starting 4/3 at GMU and on Zoom (hybrid)

Discover the transformative power of digital technology in preserving and sharing local histories. 

Peace Corps: 62 Years of Stories and Experiences of Volunteers and Staff (Class will be recorded)

Tuesdays at 2:00 PM starting 4/9 on Zoom

Embark on a journey through the history of the Peace Corps and hear firsthand accounts from former volunteers and staff.

Biblical Prophets as Champions of Social Justice

Tuesdays at 12:00 PM starting 4/16 at Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads

Explore the timeless messages of social justice delivered by biblical prophets. 

Urban Agriculture – Local Food Resiliency

Thursdays at 2:00 PM starting 4/18 on Zoom

Explore the role of Urban Agriculture in promoting food security and sustainability in and around Arlington.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to expand your horizons and connect with other Encore Learning members!

Learn more about course updates, which upcoming classes have space and what else is new this semester by going to: https://encorelearning.net/its-not-too-late-to-register/

Academic Programs Committee

Welcomes Course Proposals and Instructors

Encore Learning’s Academic Programs Committee is working now on a course lineup for the Fall 2024 term. The fall term will begin September 30 and run to December 13.

Courses typically run once a week for 90 minutes and can be taught on Zoom, in-person, or as a hybrid. The committee welcomes course proposals in history, music, theater, literature and writing, law, social sciences, politics, public affairs, art, science and technology.

Proposals for fall courses are due by the end of April.

On March 14, Ed Rader (not shown) of the Academic Programs Committee met with potential instructors for a likely new Fall 2024 course, “Technology Hotspots.”  Pictured from left to right: Michael Shapiro, Barry Ginsberg, Alphonse Galdes, and Steve Shapiro. 

Our thanks to these and all our volunteer instructors and course coordinators who share their time and expertise to provide such timely and compelling classes. If you would like to teach a course, send us a note at info@encorelearning.net. You don’t need to have spent a career in the field to be an Encore Learning instructor. Your passion, the knowledge you have acquired and a desire to share this knowledge are the most important ingredients to success! — Jeanne LaBella and Deb Spero, co-Chairs

Members Together

March found Encore Learning members out and about. The Arlington Philharmonic concert on March 10 brought more than a hundred Encore Learning members to Washington-Liberty High School for a lovely afternoon reception and concert.

Richard Juhnke and Marilyn Marton greeted members at the reception. (Right photo)

Over 50 music lovers virtually attended Maestro’s Scott Wood’s preview of the Arlington Philharmonic concert. He highlighted the music to be performed and gave participants some cues of things to listen for at the concert.

Members gathered at the pre-concert reception.

Board President Marilyn Marton welcomed the concert-goers.

Special Events

Still Openings on the April 5 Ancestral Spaces In-Person Tour at Tudor Place

Encore Learning Special Events committee member Deborah Brammer took the Tudor Place Ancestral Spaces tour in March. She explains: “It is a very different approach to the history of the house, concentrating on what is known—and still unknown—about the enslaved and free African Americans who worked there (as well as their descendants) and very little on the Peter family itself except to put the relationship into historical context. There were just four of us on the tour, which made for a more personal experience with the very knowledgeable docent.” Kudos to Debbie for coordinating the tour.

Click here for details and to register.

Images: Upper left – Fragments of ceramic plates found during a 2022 excavation; floral arrangement utilizing 10 plants known to the enslaved people; sea shells representing the ocean crossing.

Right – Photos of enslaved and free laborers and various descendants replacing portraits of the Peter family.

How Does the Encore Learning Special Events (ELSE) Committee Come Up with Event Ideas?

“I am so grateful to all Special Events planning committee members who find speakers to present to Encore Learning members and the public.”

-Quote from a 3-18-24 Encore Learning Presents Audience Member.


We get ideas from just about everywhere! Our committee members are constantly looking for topics, speakers and tour ideas that would be of interest to Encore Learning members and, for our Monday Encore Learning Presents (ELP) events, the general population in the DMV and beyond.


Sometimes, we have heard a speaker whom we felt was compelling and the topic is of interest. This was the case for Ty Seidule and his book Robert E. Lee and Me. He related how his view of Robert E. Lee evolved from hero worship to considering him a traitor


Maybe it’s an in-person tour that we think our members might not have been to. For example, we offered a behind-the-scenes tour of the music division of the Library of Congress which included the large and prestigious “Flute Vault.”


Sometimes, it is a virtual museum tour from another state like the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, FL which we are hoping to have again (back by popular demand).


One of the best ways we get leads for events is through ideas passed on to us from Encore Learning members. We plan for a variety of programs, some serious, some light, all entertaining and educational.


We have an ongoing list of “Possibilities” so that we don’t lose ideas. Right now, we have nearly 30 ideas on our list. When evaluating ideas, we consider if committee members think a topic or tour is interesting.


Want to join the Special Events committee to explore events? Email info@encorelearning.net. –Louise Kenny, Special Events Committee

And the Award Goes to…

Arlington has its own film trophy winners to celebrate. Wonder Pictures, led by sheri ratick stroud and Rich West, had three of their films screened at the Ocean City Film Festival, which ran from March 7 to 10. They were Imaginary Friends, Star Time and Encore Learning: 20 Years and Growing. All three films were well received with Encore Learning winning a Best of Festival Award. Encore Learning also won a 2023 Telly Award in the non-broadcast category.

At left are Marilyn Marton, sheri stroud and Mildred Patterson at a recent board meeting where sheri displayed the awards.

In the past year Wonder Pictures has celebrated success at numerous film festivals with Star Time selected for 12 festivals, Imaginary Friends for 25 festivals and Encore Learning for seven festivals, with more pending. You can stream the Encore Learning documentary at their YouTube channel. See you at the movies.

Club News

Please email the Encore Learning office if you are interested in joining any of our clubs or would like more information. You can also visit our Clubs page on our website.

Tech Hobbyist Club

Special Lectures

The Tech Hobbyist Club had its first “seminar” on March 4. Steve Shapiro gave a phenomenal session on drones, mostly military. Two Encore Learning members who were not club members attended. Next month on April 1, Barry Ginsberg will talk about Antibodies: How they work and how we are able to make so many different types. All Encore Learning members are welcome to attend.

April 1, 10:00 AM, How We Protect Ourselves with Antibodies by Barry Ginsberg

May 6,  10:00 AM The Development of Modern Drugs by Alphonse Galdes

June 3, 10:00 AM Robotics by Michael Shapiro

Use this direct link for all of these lectures:


Or if you have Zoom open:

Meeting ID: 870 4526 5665 Passcode: tech

They should be interesting lectures on current topics!

Travel Club

The March meeting of the Travel Club was most likely the biggest attendance so far. The topic was an open discussion of Travel Companies for “Real” Seniors led by Marty Suydam. There were over 50 people signed into the Zoom session with many screens showing more than one person viewing. Marty gathered details on nine of the major travel companies catering to seniors. You can download Marty’s presentation by clicking on the image. The Powerpoint presentation will be downloaded to your device for viewing separately.

The April Travel Club meeting will, as usual, be on the 3rd Friday of the month, April 19 at 3:30 PM on Zoom. The speaker will be Bill Mugg. Bill writes:

“This trip was to the Lake District in Northern Italy, focusing on the mountain-ringed lakes of Lombardia as well as the gastronomic heartland of Emilia- Romagna. We also spent time in the provinces of Lombardia, Emilia-Romagna and the Veneto. It was oriented around hiking and walking along lakeshore trails and through ancient vineyards where we sampled local delicacies throughout the 9 day trip.”

–Charlie Hallahan, Travel Club co-Coordinator

Cinema Club

Thirteen members of the Encore Learning Cinema Club met recently to see and discuss One Life, starring Anthony Hopkins and Johnny Flynn. Other recent films include The Monk and the Gun, Maestro, and American Fiction. Join us for a morning movie each month (the day of the week varies), followed by lunch nearby, where we discuss and rate the movie. We usually go to Cinema Arts Theater in Fairfax. Co-chairs are Dru Dowdy and Caroline Wooden. If you would like to be placed on the email list for the Cinema Club, send an email to info@encorelearning.net–Dru Dowdy, co-Coordinator

Chamber Music Club

The fledgling Chamber Music Club, which began in October, has blossomed into a cohort of 39 people, who eagerly look forward to the noon chamber music concerts on the first and second Fridays of each month from October through May, at St. George’s Church, 915 N. Oakland St., adjacent to the Virginia Square Metro.

The Friday, April 5 concert will feature works by Chopin, Mozart and Kapralova; the Friday, April 12 concert, works by Albeniz and Clara Schumann. One of the musicians introduces each piece, adding to the richness of the audience experience.

We’d love to see you in April. But if you can’t come then, be sure to save May 3 and 10, the last performances before the summer break.

– Rhoda Ritzenberg, Chamber Club Coordinator

Nonfiction Book Club

The Encore Learning Nonfiction Book Club will meet next on May 13 at 1:30 PM in the Bluemont Room of the Arlington Central library. The book we’ll be discussing is: Code Name Blue Wren: The True Story of America’s Most Dangerous Female Spy – and the Sister She Betrayed (by Jim Popkin). 

We welcome new members. Let the office know of your interest, and we’ll add you to the mailing list. Please join us.  Ed Rader, Club co-Coordinator

Current Issues Discussion Group

The Current Issues Discussion Group meets twice a month (1st and 3rd Wednesdays from 3:20 to 5:00 PM) to discuss recent events in the news. Each session deals with a topic that has been chosen by club members. Discussions are always polite and everyone’s participation is encouraged. The group welcomes new members and all points of view.

Community Events

Arlington Central Library

Author Talk: “Weathering: The Extraordinary Stress of Ordinary Life in an Unjust Society” 

The author, Dr. Arline Geronimus, will be in conversation with Arlington Public Library Director Diane Kresh and Arlington County Public Health Director Reuben Varghese

Wednesday, April 3 at 6:30–7:45 PM

At Central Library and Online 

To Register:


Based on decades of scientific and social research “Weathering” describes the negative health impacts and shortened health spans of Black, brown, working-class, and poor communities, the result of systemic injustices. Dr. Geronimus was featured in a Washington Post article (How Stress Weathers our Bodies, Causing Illness and Premature Aging  – 10/17/23). 

Click on the flyer image for a larger view.

What’s Happening at Mason Square

Mason Square Plaza has been completely remodeled and the Spring 2024 event season is underway. The Plaza at Mason Square events provide access to a variety of high quality, diverse educational and leisure opportunities that are free and open to the public. This season will have the return of some Plaza favorites and the launch of some new soon to be favorites. Join us in welcoming Rep & Revive with SPENGA, Innovation Station, Game Night, Lunches on the Lawn, and the Anti-Procrastination Cafe to our Plaza events line-up! And mark your calendar for Mason Square Day and Ribbon-Tying event on Thursday, March 28, 3:00 -6:00 PM. We will celebrate the newly designed Plaza with our friends in the community. Learn more about all the Plaza activities and Mason Square Day here.

Staff Corner

Springtime brings not only the bloom of cherry blossoms and the allure of spring getaways but also the harmonious notes of our Arlington Philharmonic event and the enriching classes at Mason. It’s wonderful to see familiar faces gathering at our events, clubs and classes, fostering a sense of community, feasting on new knowledge and building connections.

Our Spring Semester stands as a testament to excellence, with longstanding classes garnering praise alongside the introduction of new instructors, all supported by the enthusiasm of numerous volunteers. Spread the word about the exciting opportunities still on the horizon – we’re just getting started with 15 classes yet to commence.

This semester, we’re embracing innovation by offering a few recorded classes. This initiative caters to those with busy schedules or unavoidable commitments, allowing them to catch up on missed classes at their convenience. These recordings offer an unfiltered glimpse into the classroom experience and are exclusively available to registered students, with viewing data helping us track engagement and participation.

As April, National Volunteer Month, approaches we want you all to know how grateful we are for the service of our volunteer instructors, class aides, committee members, club coordinators and board members. What you are reading about in this Inside Scoop is all possible because of our volunteers.

Keep an eye on your inbox this April for the Nominating Committee Report, followed in May by the online ballot. And mark your calendars for the virtual Annual Meeting of the Members on Thursday, May 16 at 10:00 AM – your presence and participation are invaluable as we shape the future together.

~ Lora 

Lora Pollari-Welbes

Executive Director

Welcome To Our New Members

During February 2024, we welcomed the following new members:

  • Sandra Aresti
  • Sharlene Aukofer
  • Julie Beaver
  • Sharon Beermann-Curtin
  • Diana Berard
  • Ric Berard
  • Marian Bishop
  • Suzanne Black
  • Patricia Dalby
  • Sheila Delaney
  • Maureen Donley
  • Liam Ebrill
  • Judy Fox
  • James Golden
  • Laurel Helfen-Lardent
  • Jo Hodgin
  • Catherine McCormick

  • George Mueller
  • Karen Pyeatt
  • Pamela Reed
  • Nancy Rodgers
  • David Schmucker
  • Andrea Schneider
  • Marcela Siegrist
  • Ron Teeter
  • Muriel Ullman
  • Frances Walinsky
  • Susan Wallace
  • Matt Weddle
  • Roxane Weddle
  • Thea Werner
  • Alexander Wilson
  • Fred Zimmerman

Thank you to Louise Kenny, Mike Bush, Nancy Laro, Jean Falvey, Bob Taylor, Debbie Kaplan, Wendy Hamnett, Diane Hellens, and Goodwin Living for referring friends who became members of Encore Learning! Spread the word and please refer friends and family to Encore Learning. If you’d like to bring Encore Learning into your community (residential building or neighborhood) to share information about membership, let us know.

Encore Learning is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Any donation is a charitable contribution deductible from income tax to the full extent permitted by law. Members, friends and organizations wishing to support Encore Learning may direct contributions to our General Fund to support our sustainability or to the Arthur W. Gosling Youth Scholarship Fund. If you wish to designate a charitable gift in someone’s honor or memory, please email us indicating how the gift should be recognized. If you would like to discuss tax benefits of charitable giving and charitable remainder trusts, please view our Donate page or contact the office.

We hope you enjoyed this edition of The Inside Scoop. If you would like to submit an article or share some photos of members participating in Encore Learning activities, please email us at info@encorelearning.net.

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