This story originally published in the Peninsula Clarion.

The opportunity to learn how to sew fur, master the fundamentals of coffee, swing dance and cha-cha, excel at table tennis and more is now as easy as attending a class through the Soldotna Community Schools program.

The program is broken up into two, 10-week sessions. The first session started this month, and a variety of classes are available every week. From survival gardening to the power of masks, community members can learn or teach a multitude of topics.

The program was founded in 1975 with a partnership with the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District and other communities. Today, the school district and the city of Soldotna work together to make the program available to the central peninsula.

Assistant director of Soldotna Parks and Recreation Joel Todd said the ultimate goal of the program was to take advantage of school facilities in the off hours. These days, there are fewer classes taught schools, but many do still take place in the halls of Soldotna Prep School. Todd himself said he remembers taking Soldotna Community Schools classes at Soldotna Prep.

Class topics have a wide range. The teachers are community members who have a wealth of knowledge and passion they wish to share with others. There’s no degree required.

“In the past, the owner of the tackle shop would teach a class about fly fishing,” Todd said. “We’ve held on to that philosophy of community teaching community, and the community sharing skills with others.”

Todd said the program is constantly looking for new instructors. For each class, a small, relevant fee is charged, with the majority going back to the instructor, and a small portion going back into the program.

Todd said the city recognizes the program as an asset and a valuable part of the community, which is why the program takes care of as much of the logistics as possible, so instructors can focus on teaching their class, and less about the behind-the-scenes work.

“We work hard to make it so instructors can just walk in and teach their class,” Todd said. “It makes it easier for an instructor who works full time.”

For more information about Soldotna Community Schools visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SoldotnaCommunitySchools/.

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