Community flocks to CMC to continue education

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— While Betty Leipold isn't exactly sure, she said she thinks the first class she took at CMC was a geology class that had the students studying Native American paintings near Steamboat Lake and camping near Dinosaur.

Twenty years later, the 75-year old woman said she has taken so many classes she has lost count. Current events, computer, water aerobics, archaeology and art appreciation are just a few of the classes she has taken. And this semester Leipold signed up for a conversational Spanish class to prepare for a trip to Spain.

"I think this college is wonderful for a town this size," Leipold said. "It has grown so much since I have been here. It's a good liberal arts school, a great asset for the town to have a college."

Leipold is not the only Steamboat resident whose life-long education has been aided by classes offered at CMC.

Olive Morton, the Alpine Campus' director of community education, said traditionally 10 percent of the community takes one or more courses from the college.

Last semester, 65 percent of the students enrolled in classes at CMC were undeclared majors, which Morton said is an indication of community members taking classes without a degree in mind.

Although community members might make up most of the enrollment, Morton said degree-seeking students who have full-time course loads do account for most of the credits the school awards.

As the spring semester begins on Monday, community members once again have a wide variety of courses from cooking classes to kickboxing to African jazz dance to choose from.

This semester the college is offering a new course on the European Union taught by Chip Chamness.

"We have all kinds of people take courses for all kinds of reasons," Morton said.

But, the most popular course taken by the community, Morton said, is actually part of many people's occupational training.

The first aid classes, which have a full-time instructor, are offered nonstop throughout the semester and train about 300 to 400 people.

But Morton said, the college finds community students in other more degree-orientated classes as well, such as psychology, geology and humanities.

"It's not uncommon to see a wide range of ages. We'll have your 18-year-olds and see your older students. It gives a lot to the classes, gives it a different perspective," Morton said.

Cathi Sabel, 53, was one of the community members to take classes that had many younger students.

Sabel decided to attend CMC and earned an associate in arts degree.

In classes such as algebra and English, Sabel found herself among many 18- to 21-year-olds.

"It was a lot of fun. I was older than most of the instructors and it was a kick being around the kids. I was used to hanging out with kids their age and they were all receptive," Sabel said.

Although Sabel has not signed up for any classes this semester, she said she is thinking about taking classes on adult learning.

"I'm actually looking for something geared more towards real-life experiences rather than book learning," she said.

Leipold, who chooses her classes by seeing what interests her in the course catalog, is also unsure of what her next class will be but said she is always interested in current affairs and archaeology.

Morton said she thinks Steamboat has one of the highest percentages of adult learners for the CMC schools with residential campuses.

"We have a lot higher percentage than most, I think because people in Steamboat are really into going to class," Morton said. "The very same people like to learn and keep abreast to what is happening."

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