Meriden’s Castle Craig Adult Learning Center Celebrates 20th Anniversary with MxCC

Sept. 30, 2019 (Meriden, Conn.) — Members of the Castle Craig Adult Learning Center (CCALC) is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Established in the summer of 1999, the group has been affiliated with Middlesex Community College ever since.

CCALC members

L to R, Jean Dufresne, Gerri Meoni, MxCC Dean of Administration Kim Hogan, Mary Zysk, Pat Frederick, Carol Davidson, Elizabeth Tirone at CCALC’s 20th anniversary celebration

CCALC members are (mostly retired) adult learners who are interested in expanding their levels of knowledge with a unique program of course offerings. Anyone in the greater Meriden area is invited to join CCALC, though members are generally 55 years of age or older. The group’s 12-member board plans and promotes a wide variety of classes for spring and fall sessions, while Middlesex Community College administers the registration process.

According to board member Mary Zysk, retired Meriden math teacher Tom Bruenn started the organization after he learned about a similar senior enrichment group in Middletown also sponsored by Middlesex Community College. That group is known as the Middlesex Institute of Lifelong Education or MILE.

“Tom always said ‘we are the best-kept secret in Meriden.’ In the beginning, you can take 25 classes for $25, and the cost is the same today,” said Zysk.

CCALC classes have ranged from Black Bears in Connecticut to Machu Picchu to Pioneers in Aviation, plus they offer activities such as yoga, knitting, book and poetry discussions, computer skills and much more. Day trips include river cruises, museums, cultural performances and historical sites, to name a few. Zysk also noted the knitters donated more than 100 handmade hats, scarves and mittens to local homeless shelters for the past three years.

CCALC at Wadsworth Atheneum

CCALC members recently visited the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford

“We pretty much set our own style,” said Pat Frederick, a 15-year member who also serves on the board.

The group finds new adult learners primarily by word of mouth, and membership has gradually grown over the years. “We originally had 46 members. Now we have 110, and many of them are longtime members,” added Frederick.

CCALC first met in the former International Silver Company building on South Broad Street. When Middlesex Community College opened a center in downtown Meriden in 2004, the group held classes there. Now CCALC members meet at the Meriden Public Library. Now known as MxCC@Platt, the college’s Meriden classes moved to Platt High School in 2017.

The group held a special 20th anniversary celebration during their fall social event at the Meriden Senior Center on September 9, 2019. CCALC members and guests from Middlesex Community College enjoyed refreshments and entertainment by the Silk’n Sounds, an a cappella chorus from New Haven.

CCALC photo class

Photographer Matt Kabel demonstrates camera tips during a CCALC photography class

For a schedule of fall CCALC classes and to sign up, please visit the website or call 860-343-5800, ext. 46398.

Since 1966, Middlesex Community College has provided high-quality, affordable, and accessible education to a diverse population, enhancing the strengths of individuals through degree, certificate, and lifelong learning programs that lead to university transfer, employment, and an enriched awareness of our shared responsibilities as global citizens. A part of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system, MxCC offers more than 70 degree or certificate programs at the main 35-acre campus in Middletown, MxCC@Platt in Meriden, and online.