St. Charles Herald-Guide

Sustainable garden, astronomy highlight new Community Ed offerings

By Kyle Barnett - August 9, 2013

The St. Charles Parish Public Schools Community Education Center is offering plenty of new courses this year for those seeking to further their educational opportunities, explore hobbies and develop new skills.

Courses have been added in many different areas in the upcoming year including basic astronomy, sustainable gardening, elegant cooking, child protection, saving for retirees and sign language.

In addition to news classes being offered, popular courses from last year will return.

Susan Dempster, program coordinator, said with film productions happening all over the area, classes that teach residents the acting basics have been very popular in recent years.

“I think because there is always so much interest in working in the movies, people always want to know what is going on behind the scenes,” she said.  

Dempster also said there should be a strong showing in photography classes as well.

“This year we will be introducing travel photography for beginners that will teach students how to create exciting images of your adventures,” Dempster said. See the stars like never before with astronomySome of the more anticipated classes are ones that have not been offered before, such as the basic astronomy class that will be taught by Destrehan’s David Diaz.

The course will meet four times throughout the fall and will give students a chance to learn the theoretical side of astronomy as well as offer field days where students can be guided in looking at the night’s sky through telescopes.

Diaz, an amateur astronomer who has been interested in astronomy as long as he can remember, is a member of the Pontchartrain Astronomy Society and has taken college courses in the field.

“I’m 55 now. My mother says when I was 18 months old I was in her arms and I would say ‘there are no stars tonight,’” he said. “So I’m a lifelong hobbyist.”

Diaz said his connection to astronomy is deep.

“Once you start getting the hang of the constellations you can look up and find Scorpius and Lyra and you start seeing those patterns and can go from one to the other,” he said. “It sort of gives you a perspective of where you are in the universe. You see just how big it is and in a lot of ways it’s a wonder.”

In addition to teaching students to identify constellations, Diaz said he hopes to show students how to photograph the cosmos as well.

“There are a number of different tools - a planetary camera and a video astronomy camera - we will hopefully be using,” he said. “Everything has to be perfect for the photography stuff. It takes a few hours to set up and I’ll be playing it by ear checking in on the weather.”Cut down on grocery bill by growing food in gardenAnother class new to the community education center this year is Sustainable Edible Garden that will be taught by Amber Dawn of the Hollygrove Market & Farm in Uptown New Orleans.

“Students will learn how to grow a garden and work it through the year,” Dempster said.

The program promises to teach students how to grow ornamental, edible gardens that will sustain them throughout the year and put a dent in their grocery bills.

The class will introduce the soil to table food systems people can grow in their own homes. Students will be shown how everything they need to know about year-round gardening including what vegetables grow well seasonally, how to plan a garden, harvest tips and pest control. Learn how to help, protect childrenAlso new this year are classes on child empowerment.  Angela Golden, with Child Advocacy Services, will lead a course on bullying.  

“The class helps develop skills in parents and children on how to deal with the effects of bullying and how to support them and get past it,” Dempster said.

Golden will also teach a new class on protecting children from abuse as well as a free class geared towards volunteers who would like to help children in foster care.Master seafood dishesFor those most interested in culinary arts, chef Christiane Engeran will teach a variety of courses on seafood preparation.

“She shows them how to pan sear a fish and make about half a dozen sauces you would get at the expensive restaurants,” Dempster said. “She does fish and sushi and she is going to do a healthy eating class.”

A full list of courses can be found in the Community Education pamphlet that went out in the mail to all parish residents last week.  

The registration deadline for all courses at the Community Education Center is Aug. 30, but those who register before Aug. 16 will receive a discount. Classes are set to begin on Sept. 16.

For more information, visit www.stcharles.k12.la.us. Under Quick Links choose Community, then the Community Education link for the most current information.

Sustainable garden, astronomy highlight new Community  Ed offerings