Students for Life |

Students for Life

Sarah L. Stewart
Vail Trail File PhotoBeginning watercolor is one of several art classes offered at Colorado Mountain College this summer.

Longtime valley resident Bill Clinkenbeard was looking for a way to feel closer to his twin sister, who was an artist before she passed away. Art, he thought, could be the answer.

The only problem: He couldn’t draw a straight line, he says.

That was three years ago, before Clinkenbeard took a drawing class at Denver University and several oil and watercolor painting classes at Colorado Mountain College. Now, painting is “a lovely hobby” for the 80-year-old, an engineer and developer by trade.

Clinkenbeard is one of many adults in the valley who have learned a new skill at the college’s Vail-Eagle Valley campus just off Interstate 70 in Edwards. Though their motivations for taking classes may differ, all are proof that education doesn’t have to end once formal schooling is finished.

Helen McIntyre, 73, is one of the star pupils in Kitty Gwathmey’s Tuesday morning tap dance class.

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Though McIntyre began tapping as a child and has taken classes off and on throughout her life, the hobby has assumed greater importance as she’s grown older, and now she almost never misses a class.

“Dance is really great for balance, and balance is one of the things you start to worry about when you get older,” she says. “It’s the fastest hour in exercise that I know of.”

The class also provides a social outlet for McIntyre. She’s made several friends through the tap class, including one woman who comes to her house each week so they can watch “Dancing with the Stars” together.

“It’s just so fun to come to class and see who’s there,” McIntyre says.

Marianne Milloy and her husband, Paul, both 64, also found new friendships through the conversational Spanish class they took this past spring semester with instructor Scherezada Milfeld. Paul, a former doctor, has used his improved Spanish on medical missions to Central and South America.

“To keep the brain moving, I think it’s important,” says Marianne, a retired attorney. “I think you never can quit learning.”

Without the pressure to earn a degree, older students often focus more on mastering the new skill, says art instructor Ben Pond.

“They’re kind of motivated to learn,” he says. “They’re not motivated to get a grade for a class.”

Perhaps, as the days of stuffed backpacks and freshly sharpened No. 2 pencils wane farther into memory, the desire to learn resurges.

“I love it because these guys want to learn,” Milfeld says. “Everyone is hungry to learn.”

As for Clinkenbeard, he’s on his way to turning his new hobby into a new career. Already he’s sold three of his paintings: one to his daughter for $1, one to his ex-wife for $2 and one to a friend for $4. By doubling his price with each sale, Clinkenbeard has some lofty goals for the future.

“By the time I’m 100, I may get $1,000 for one of my paintings,” he says.

Here’s a sampling of summer classes at CMC. To find more classes or to register, visit or call CMC at (970) 947-8438. Registration closes the day before each class begins, but sign up sooner so classes don’t fill up without you.

Beginning Watercolor

Original artwork adds flavor to any home ” especially if the artist is you. This course, taught by CMC instructor Ben Pond, is one of the classes that set Bill Clinkenbeard on his path to painting as a new hobby. Here you’ll learn the basic techniques and materials used in watercolor painting, as well as some color theory.

If you want to combine your artistic aspirations with enjoying the outdoors, Pond also will be teaching an oil painting class that meets at a different outdoor location each week to draw inspiration from the beauty of a High Country summer.

Beginning Watercolor:

Thursdays, June 5 to August 7

6 to 8:50 p.m.


Beginning Italian

Planning a visit to Italy? Or do you just want to be able to pronounce the menu at your favorite Italian restaurant? In this course, you’ll learn basic vocabulary, grammar and expressions used in daily situations and travel. Be ready to study: This class requires a textbook. If you’re wanting to learn a language you might use a little more here, Spanish conversation classes are also on the summer schedule.

Beginning Italian

Mondays, June 2 to August 4

6:30 to 8:30 p.m.


Computers for Seniors

Computers have become an important way for families and friends to communicate and share photos, so if you aren’t logged on, you could be missing out.

If you struggle with computer basics, this four-hour crash course will get you up to speed. Instructor Dr. Robert Hintermeister says the course isn’t just for seniors, but for anyone who is a computer beginner and wants a pared-down introduction. You’re never too old to learn the computer ” Hintermeister has had students close to 80 years old.

Computers for Seniors

Monday, July 7

8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.



Though there may be no thrill like carving through undisturbed backcountry powder or spending the night miles from civilization, these out-of-bounds activities can come at a price if you don’t know what you’re doing. With orienteering, you’ll improve your backcountry navigation skills by learning the proper use of maps, a compass and other tools. The materials needed to expand your backcountry adventures are included in the cost of the class. More likely to venture onto the green than into the wild? You can also learn to step up your putting with Advanced Golf.


Tuesdays and Thursdays, July 15 to July 24

6:30 to 9:20 p.m.


Argentine Tango

Over the course of his seven-session classes, instructor Colin Meiring sees a change in his tango couples ” a new appreciation for etiquette and compromise, he says.

“It’s like a date,” he says. “It just rekindles the romance.”

Argentine Tango

Thursdays, June 12 to July 24

7:30 to 8:30 p.m.


If you’d rather dance solo, consider joining Kitty Gwathmey each Tuesday from May 20 to August 12 (except for May 27) at 8:30 a.m. for her hour-long tap class, which is free except for a suggested donation to the CMC Foundation.

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