College offers courses that create lifelong learners

Green River Community College’s Prime Time program for mature learners 55 years old and older will be offering a great opportunity to learn about the current chemistry of the highest court in the land, the United States Supreme Court.

Approximately six students participated in Green River Community College’s Prime Time tour of the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island Friday. The day included a 2 1/2-hour guided tour of the reserve as well as lunch and a tour of a nearby winery and wine tasting.

Green River Community College’s Prime Time program for mature learners 55 years old and older will be offering a great opportunity to learn about the current chemistry of the highest court in the land, the United States Supreme Court.

The course, “Judging the Supreme Court,” will be taught by Richard Elfers, popular Prime Time instructor, retired Sumner School District teacher and Enumclaw City Council member. Elfers will answer questions such as: What is the new replacement for Supreme Court Justice Souter going to be like and can President Obama get whoever ends up being his nominee through a very contentious Senate? Participants will get to think about what kind of person they would choose if they had the power and what would they like the make-up of the court to be? Participants will explore these questions and others relating to one of the most important domestic decisions any president can make.

“The classes I teach are highly interactive,” Elfers said. “The students are highly educated and many are well traveled. Several students have brought me articles from different sources and shared them with the class.”

Elfers said, as an introduction, he’s done brainstorming to find out what students know about the discussion topic and he is often surprised at the depth of their understanding of the issues. He enjoys the question and answer interaction and has been pleased with the comfort level created between he and his students.

“I’m not threatened by differing ways of looking at an issue,” he said. “My goal is to encourage thought and discussion, not just provide answers, because the topics we deal with in the classes are very complex and multifaceted.”

He’s also not afraid to offer students a different point of view.

“I look at the issue from several perspectives to make students aware that there are many facets to the topic,” he said. “This often creates comments and questions.”

Elfers said for his courses he tries to find topics that are making headlines and that he himself has questions about and can research. He also quizzes students to see what interests them and then confers with Sherrie Earl with GRCC’s Continuing Education, who also works with Prime Time members, to go over student survey responses.

“I teach these Prime Time classes for the pure joy of human interaction,” Elfers said. “I’m not doing it for the money because the amount of time I spend preparing far outweighs the stipend I’m paid. It’s just plain fun for me to dig to understand the real motives and the underlying back story and then to share my research and reflections with my students.”

Elfers’ course on the Supreme Court will be offered at the GRCC Enumclaw Campus, 1414 Griffin Ave., from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Aug. 25 and Aug. 27. The cost is $29 for Prime Time members and $45 for non-members.

Another unique course Elfers has developed is 21st Century Pirates. Students will learn about the recent attempted hijackings of ships near Somalia, Nigeria and other areas that have been making headline news. The course will explain the reasons for the new phenomenon where the stakes are high and the profits are immense. Participants will learn about these hijackings and why pirates are trying to board and rob ocean liners and freighters, and how the United States and other seafaring nations of the world are dealing with it.

This course will be offered from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Aug. 10, Aug. 12, Aug. 17 and Aug. 19 at the Auburn Station, 110 2nd St., S.W. The cost is $39 for Prime Time members and $65 for non-members.

The Prime Time program offers short, noncredit classes and tours based on Prime Time members’ input and interests. Other Prime Time opportunities offered this summer are a tour to Mount Rainier’s Paradise Aug. 6 and an Introduction to Comparative Religion from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. beginning Thursday at GRCC’s Auburn campus.

Prime Time’s annual membership fees are $75 for individuals and $125 for couples and entitle members to approximately 40 to 50 percent discount on all Prime Time classes as well as other benefits such as membership socials and free GRCC library access.

For more information about registering for a class or Prime Time membership, contact Continuing Education at 253-833-9111 ext. 2535 or register and pay online at

To comment on this story, view it online at Reach Brenda Sexton at or 360-802-8206.

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