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Editorial: What colors, appearance will fill this canvas?

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Most of us are aware that a community education program now exists in River Falls. In fact, we have a letter to the editor on this page that criticizes our school district for adding such a program.

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Despite the criticism, the program has the enthusiastic support of the duly elected school board. It also has a person to run the program -- Monique Squire. She was hired last month, and the Journal profiled her in a feature story last week.

While there is a community education program in River Falls and a coordinator, the program itself is blank, and with good reason.

Squire explains it like this: "What we're doing is beginning with an empty canvas. We don't know what it will look like, but in 5-10 years we hope to have built a dynamic program that keeps getting better as it evolves."

Squire's goal is for community education -- often called continuing education or lifelong adult learning -- to establish a framework that grows based on classes that local citizens want to see taught. That growth will also depend on local talent.

Are there qualified, interested people willing to teach a cooking class, or one on computer technology, money management, genealogy research, quilting, digital photography, speed reading, travel writing, podcasting? Pick a topic. The possibilities are wide open.

These are facets of the new program that need to come together: Interest, demand and instruction. Is there a class you would like to see taught? Do you know of a person who could lead a certain class? That's the kind of conversation, the kind of networking that should be getting started.

Squire will soon have an office at the high school and a new phone number. There will be other means of reaching her, but for now she can be contacted by cell phone at 715-307-0709. You can also call the school district's central office at 715-425-1800 to offer your ideas for a community education curriculum.

The beauty and simplicity of the program is that it will be driven by popular demand. In her role as coordinator, Squire is there to organize and manage. However, the heart of River Falls Community Education is what the rest of us choose to make of it.

Online Poll: Community ed gets the nod

The Journal's online poll question this week asked: Do you think the school district's new community education program that emphasizes lifelong learning is something we need in River Falls?

As of Tuesday noon, the results were: YES, 60%; NO, 40%.

To vote, go to www.riverfallsjournal.com.

Look for a new question Friday.

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