Helen Lytton, left, Charlotte Poole and Pat Gwinn, all from Beckley, laugh at some entertainment during the history class graduation ceremony at the Raleigh County Commission

“Learning is a lifelong adventure, and honey, we have been on an adventure,” said Mary Bowyer, instructor for the first-ever West Virginia history class at the Raleigh County Commission on Aging.

Bowyer, a retired teacher from Maple Fork, explained that Friday’s graduation ceremonies marked the end of an experience that none will soon forget.

“Many of these people are college educated and have come from all over the county but were eager to learn the story of their past,” she said.

The senior class was not a typical textbook course, she explained. Forty-one participants learned about aspects of local and state history that are traditionally under-taught and had the chance to travel to places of historical importance.

“We went to Blair Mountain and looked at places where important history occurred,” Bowyer said.

 “We studied our own past, how the decisions of political leaders affected us and learned about our own struggle and how very successful many of our own people have been.”

Raleigh County Commission on Aging Executive Director Jack Tanner added, “This group of graduates has been able to take trips and see what history is about. Their hard work, interest, energy and willingness made the class a success.”

Bowyer said the individual participants were what made the class especially rewarding.

“There is a sense of excitement among these folks,” she said. “They are excited about what they learned and what they discovered — and I learned as much from them as they did from me.”

At Friday’s graduation ceremony, local storyteller Sue Atkins performed alongside several talented participants.

Attendees were treated to music as well as a Minnie Pearl-like, stand-up comedy routine.

For those who missed this exciting history class, Tanner announced that there would be future sessions of the course and different classes offered in the future.


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