By Christine Zufelt, Member, Bronxville Adult School 75th Anniversary Committee
Sep. 20, 2017: Bronxville 1942: The village, and most of the world, is at war, and residents have heeded the call to action. Articles in the local paper exhort Bronxvillians to save rubber to combat the “war-losing rubber shortage,” to bring their waste fats to supermarkets’ meat departments, and to “think twice before making any long-distance calls” so the lines can be kept clear for war-related calls.
It’s in November of this difficult year that community adult education classes begin, co-sponsored by The Bronxville School and the PTA, ready to prepare citizens for the demands of wartime. The first 180 students, many of whom are women, fill classes in aircraft drafting and blueprint reading, typing, stenography, dressmaking, Spanish, and more. Free classes centered on children’s leisure activities, designed to alleviate wartime stress, draw standing-room-only crowds. This is the beginning of the Bronxville Adult School (BAS).
The year 1942 marks the beginning of an unwavering commitment to adult education by the BAS. For seventy-five years, the BAS has offered lifelong learning opportunities for residents of Bronxville and the neighboring communities, providing cultural, intellectual, and recreational activities at a nominal cost.
A perusal of old catalogues gives an insight into the eras in which they were published, as the BAS's curriculum has always been a thought-provoking mix of educational and recreational offerings, in touch with contemporary thinking.
In the 1950s, a ten-week Bible course ran for at least five years, attracting 250 students each year. Current-events lectures have always been popular, and in the '60s, '70s, and '80s, many local residents were called upon to speak on issues of the day with courses such as Africa in Ferment in 1961, Perspectives on Women in 1974 (including panelist Marcia Lee, now editor of MyhometownBronxville), and South African Dilemmas in 1987. The 2017 fall/winter catalogue continues in the same fashion, with America’s Global Affairs Discussion Program and Hot Topics in Foreign Affairs.
Trends in recreation and wellness were not ignored. Yoga, still a very popular class, shows up for the first time in 1970, Jogging for Cardiovascular Fitness in 1978, Zumba in the 2000s. The current fall/winter term has 18 different fitness and sports offerings.
Contemporary needs have frequently encompassed work-related skills. Those 1942 typing classes ran continuously until word processing came along in 1984. Now, the BAS offers Essential Computer Skills for the Workplace, along with many other technology classes.
To celebrate this important occasion, the BAS has donated two benches for the front of The Bronxville School, home to so many of the BAS's classes and teachers. There was a ribbon-cutting by Bronxville Mayor Mary Marvin last week.
The school’s inception was triggered by wartime needs, and it was that same war that sparked another classic that year--the famous film Casablanca.
Few films have inspired as much devotion from their viewers as Casablanca. Countless fans have watched it dozens of times; it remains as relevant as ever. Just in time for the movie’s 75th anniversary, Noah Isenberg, director of screen studies at The New School, has published a book titled We’ll Always Have Casablanca, a fascinating exploration of the film’s resonance through popular and political culture over the decades.
To commemorate the two anniversaries, the BAS, in conjunction with Concordia College’s Books & Coffee series, is presenting a 75th-anniversary lecture, “We’ll Always Have Casablanca,” on Thursday, September 28, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm at Concordia College. Author Isenberg will thrill devotees and casual viewers alike with anecdotes about on-set hijinks, grudges, rewrites, and censorship that threatened to compromise the film’s iconic story. The book will be available for purchase and signing by the author.
There is no cost, but registration is required either on the BAS website, www.bronxvilleadultschool.org, or by phone at 914-793-4435. Refreshments will be served.
While you’re on the BAS website, check out this year’s fantastic classes. There is something for everyone--lectures, trips, fitness, cooking, music, languages, and more.
After 75 years, the Bronxville Adult School understands how to nourish the minds and bodies of its community.