Why These ‘Super Seniors’ Have Taken the Same Class for 20 Years

Jun. 14, 2017 / By

Audio story by Tim Dickerson. Photo courtesy of Long Beach City College.

DAGGETT: Okay, we have a few things that I would like to chat about before we finish up the amazing Jersey Boys.

NARRATOR: This class you’re hearing is full of 110 Long Beach City College students, but they’re not the millennials you’re probably picturing in your head.

SKUPNIK: When you go into Lucy’s class, it’s not like [gulps].

NARRATOR: That’s Ray Skupnik, a 77 year old student enrolled in this music appreciation class.

SKUPNIK: The other part of this here that I like is that there’s no homework, and you don’t have to write any papers, and you don’t have to give any talks. You just come in here and enjoy what you’re doing here.

NARRATOR: That’s right. No homework and no presentations because this class is for seniors. The Long Beach City College Senior Studies Program, Lifetime Learning Program was started back in 1978 and was the brainchild of former Long Beach Mayor Beverly O’Neill. Theresa Brunella is the current part time director for the program.

BRUNELLA: In addition to the activities that they get involved in, I think that probably one of the most important parts of our program is socialization. They all get together. They become friends. They go out together. They have lunch together. They go to plays together. A lot of times, you’ll see students arrive early and they have a cup of coffee with their friends before class starts. I think it’s really important as we age to keep our minds and our bodies active and engaged and our program offers that to the seniors.

NARRATOR: When the program started, they had offered a wider range of classes in arts and intellectual subjects. But the program manages to still bring in scores of local seniors. The most popular class? Music appreciation and it’s taught by two instructors. One of them is Lucy Daggett who specializes in Broadway hits and is actually a retired Broadway star.

DAGGETT: The thing that’s a challenge for me is, it’s not like teaching music appreciation, you get your whole syllabus and you teach basically the same thing every semester because you got a whole new set of kids coming in. Some of these people have been in this class for 25 or 30 years. Well, you know, there’s only so many musicals that you actually have something that you can show, you know. So it just gives everybody a broader and a better perspective of the musical theater art form.

NARRATOR: The program is set to continue next semester with more trips to museums, dinners, and classes sure to help seniors bond and continue to be lifelong learners. Reporting for VoiceWaves and Cal State Long Beach’s Enterprise Reporting class, this is Tim Dickerson.

DAGGETT: If you are depressed, you know, you slip that little baby in there and you are (Singing “Walk Like a Man” by The Four Seasons).

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CSULB Enterprise Reporters

VoiceWaves partners with the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) each semester to mentor students' community reporting. The Journalism 495 Enterprise Reporting in Diverse Communities course challenges students to build on their journalism skills covering various neighborhoods throughout Long Beach, including North Long Beach, Central Long Beach, Downtown, and the Westside.