St. Charles Herald-Guide

Learn how to fix own car, make family tree at community ed

Kyle Barnett - August 17, 2012

Residents will have the chance to learn how to trace their familyís lineage or fix their own vehicle by taking community education classes offered by St. Charles Parish Public Schools this fall.

Other classes being offered include art, crafts, computer training, business and career training, fitness, dance and many others. The classes are open to all St. Charles Parish residents and those from surrounding parishes.

Susan Dempster, program coordinator, said although the art classes are generally the most popular she thinks a few new offerings may take off.

For the first time, community education will offer a genealogy class that will be taught by St. Rose resident Barbara Munson.

"If they are interested in genealogy they need to learn how do it properly and thatís what weíll do," Munson said.

Munson said she has been doing genealogy research for 30 years and has traced her family back to when they crossed over from England in the 1600s.

She said she has always had an interest in personal histories and biographies and how choices by oneís ancestors have affected the living.

"Part of it for me is just by knowing some of your family history you can find out why you ended up the way you did," Munson said. "If you want to learn how to track the family tree, you have to learn the proper steps to begin with."

She said well-known ancestry sites do not represent all of the information that is out there.

"This is basically teaching people where to look online in the most helpful place and not just paying and trusting everything because they are not always correct," Munson said.

The other course focuses on automotive repair basics. Dempster said although the class is offered to all residents it is geared more towards women.

"When we were in school there was a dividing line - the boys went off to auto shop and the girls went off to home ec and never the twain shall meet," Dempster said. "Now theyíve become a great deal more liberal and if you want the knowledge, you go get it."

Dempster said it is the first time an automotive class has been offered through the center in four years.

The class will be taught by father-daughter team Dwan Veillon and Dick Pitre.

Dwan said her motivation to teach the course came from taking a class at the center and realizing she could take on the challenge of teaching a class.

"My dadís been a mechanic for a really long time and I basically grew up and learned everything I know from him," Veillon said.

Pitre is retired and was formerly a machinist at Shell, but has been a car enthusiast for years and has restored two late 50s eras Edsels.

The class will take place for one hour a week for six weeks. The class will involve both in-class work as well as hands-on maintenance.

Veillon said her hope is to empower women to be more in control when dealing with auto maintenance issues.

"Itís more to let them know that just because it is a big piece of machinery itís not a scary thing. Itís not going to bite you and you can save a lot of money by doing it yourself," Veillon said. "(You will) have basic knowledge so when you go somewhere else to see whatís wrong with it they are not going to take advantage of you."

The registration deadline for all courses at the Community Education Center is Aug. 31 and first classes start on Sept. 13. For more information, visit Under Quick Links choose Community, then the Community Education link for the most current information.