School bells will soon ring at Freedom Plaza, but residents won’t be opening textbooks. Instead they’ll open their catalogue of courses for the Spring Semester of Freedom Plaza Graduate School for Seniors. Then they’ll open their minds to six weeks of intriguing studies.
In a relaxed atmosphere of no tests or homework, resident students will pursue historical subjects such as “A Crash Course in Music History” and “Monarchy in France,1315-1815.” Classes addressing current issues will include “Health Care in the United States” and “The Realities of Islam.” General interest topics like “Beginning Genealogy” or “Constitutional Law – Fundamental Rights,” an art course called “Draw a Straight Line” and sessions on “The Origin of Sayings” exemplify the diversity of the curriculum.
The faculty of Freedom Plaza’s Graduate School for Seniors is drawn primarily from the wealth of intellectual endowment found among its residents. Some have impressive academic credentials, some have had leadership roles in business or in the military and some possess artistic talents. All are willing to share their knowledge and experiences.
Residents also make up the Graduate School for Seniors Board of Trustees and appoint its chancellor. This industrious group recruits instructors, plans the study program and prepares a new catalogue of courses for each of two semesters offered each year
All of this academic activity at Freedom Plaza began in 2005 when Robert Gingery, now deceased, moved in. His many resident friends knew him as the former pastor of the Sun City Center Community Church. They also knew he had been instrumental in establishing the highly successful Community Church College, a non-credit institution providing a broad range of educational experiences to seniors.
Almost before his bags were unpacked, Gingery was prevailed upon to help initiate a similar program at Freedom Plaza. He graciously consented, and the Freedom Plaza Graduate School for Seniors was born.
Freedom Plaza residents look forward to their forthcoming school days, those “dear old, golden rule days,” confident that there’s not a hickory stick in sight.
Peggy Burgess is an associate of Freedom Plaza and columnist for The Sun.