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UM Communiversity Classes Help Locals Try Something New

Fall 2017 schedule includes $10 lunch and learn holiday classes.

Hummingbird Festival
Tree Trimming

The University of Mississippi's fall 2017 Communiversity enrichment class schedule starts up on Sept. 9 with a trip to the Hummingbird Migration Celebration at Strawberry Plains Audubon Center in Holly Springs. Communiversity classes are short non-credit classes open to everyone in the community interested in learning something new. Back on the schedule this fall are the popular $10 holiday decor and design classes. The full list of classes can be found at

OXFORD—What does learning to decorate a home like Joanna Gaines, spinning around the dance floor like your favorite “Dancing With The Stars” couple, and decorating a cake like you’re a contestant on “Cake Wars,” have in common? These are a few of the things participants will be learning to pull off during the University of Mississippi’s fall 2017 Communiversity classes.

“We want to give people the chance to change their, “I wish I could’s” into “Yes, I can’s,” UM Communiversity coordinator Gazel Giles said. “People may want to try something new like learning to use essential oils or putting together a show-stopping Christmas tree and with Communiversity classes now they can.”

With several options to choose from this fall, there are new classes and several favorites back on the schedule including the popular $10 fall “Lunch and Learn” classes. These classes will teach participants how to design their perfect holiday table, trim a beautiful tree, and even make a Christmas tree for the birds.

“Communiversity classes are for everyone,” Giles said. “We try to offer a broad range of short workshops and classes that will give community members the opportunity to learn something new.

“There is a wealth of knowledge to pull from in our community. People enjoy sharing the hobbies, skills, and techniques they are passionate about. Our Communiversity teachers make these classes fun.”

The fall schedule is kicking off with a special excursion to the 2017 Hummingbird Migration & Nature Celebration at Strawberry Plains Audubon Center in Holly Springs on Saturday, Sept. 9.  The cost is $25. Transportation from Oxford and lunch are included in the fee.  Bird-watchers can join their neighbors for one of the biggest nature festivals in the area and enjoy the thousands of hummingbirds, live shows, arts and crafts, and native plant sales. 

The following week, the popular “Ballroom and Latin Dance with Arman” class begins for the fall. Arman Sahakyan will host his step-by-step dance instruction classes on Monday evenings. Participants can come for one or all of the classes taking place from Sept. 11- Nov. 27. Ballroom dance lessons are from 6:30-7:30 and Latin dance classes will be held from 7:30-8:30 p.m.  The cost for each class session is $10 per person.

The popular “CPR and First Aid Training” class will be held on Saturday, Sept. 23 from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. at UM’s Insight Park on Hathorn Road. Students will learn resuscitation techniques for infants, children, and adults, along with how to use AEDs (Automated External Defibrillators). The course also covers first aid, home safety, splinting, and victim assessment. This course meets requirements for foster care, adoption, and child care workers. The fee is $79 and includes American Red Cross CPR certification.

UM recent graduate Maila Rogers of Southaven enrolled in this course last spring and was able to use the first aid information she learned while serving as a camp counselor this summer at Camp Lakeside in Scobey.

“I felt better prepared and calmer when I needed to recall my training,” Rogers said. “Unfortunately, we did have a few minor accidents at camp this summer that needed quick responses. I was glad to have the knowledge and skills to help.”

“Safe Sitter Essential Skills for ages 11-14” is a nationally recognized program where teens will learn life-saving skills to stay safe when they are home alone or watching younger children. The class meets on Saturday, Nov. 4 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. The cost is $45.

Community residents who would like to learn more about the healing power of natural remedies are invited to try Communiversity’s special classes with Ann Marie Farrell on Thursday evenings in October.

“The Healing Power of Herbs and Spices” class will meet on Thursday, Oct. 5 at 5:30 p.m.  The cost is $39. “Advanced Essential Oils— Lifestyle Change” will take place on Thursdays, Oct. 19 and 26.  Classes meet from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the UM Depot, and the cost is $85 plus a $9 materials fee.

Learn more about how to take photos like the pros in “Getting to Know Your Digital Camera” on Saturday, Sept. 30 from 8 a.m.-12 noon. UM Director of Photography Services, Robert Jordan, will teach participants how to take professional-looking photos, as well as share his tips on enhancing images, archiving photos, and techniques for printing. The cost is $85. Students will have the opportunity to practice their skills with their own camera during lessons around the UM campus that same day.

For beginning photographers who would like to learn more about digitally enhancing photos, the “Adobe Photoshop Workshop: Getting Started,” will be held on Saturday, Oct. 7 from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. The cost is $89.

Local seniors interested in learning more about their tech devices are invited to the “iPhones?, iPads?, iWhat?” class offered on Thursday, Nov. 16 from 5-6:30 p.m. The fee is $45. Participants will learn basic settings, navigation, how to take photos, send texts, download apps, and much more.

“Marketing Your Business Using Social Media” will meet on Thursdays, Oct. 5, 12, and 19 from 6-7:30 p.m. The cost is $69.  This course teaches participants how to set up and optimize social media accounts for their business, generate leads through Facebook ads, and gain traffic to their websites. 

Food Network’s “Cake Wars” winners Jeff and Kathleen Taylor, of Oxford’s Sweet T’s Bakery, are back this fall with their popular cake design classes. They will lead a Halloween-themed “Cake Decorating: Spooky, Scary, and Spectacular” class on Monday, Oct. 23 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at the UM Depot. The class will cover techniques for creating piping, cake borders, flowers, rolled fondant and modeling techniques. The course fee is $75.

The Taylors will also lead “Holiday Sweet Treats” on Tuesday, December 12 from 5:30-8:30 p.m.  This family-friendly class will show you how to take a simple cupcake or cookie and turn it into something special. The class fee is $59.

Communiversity’s popular $10 holiday “Lunch and Learn” classes are back again this fall to help participants deck their halls with lots of festive cheer and décor.  Each class will be offered from 12 noon-1 p.m. at the UM Depot.

The first noon class will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 8 when one of Oxford’s favorite designers, Jordan Brown, from Discount Building Supply Store shares her unique “Tips for Trimming Your Tree.” Learn her easy-to-recreate design ideas for putting together your own show-stopping tree this holiday season.

Brown will also teach participants fun DIY holiday decorating ideas for designing “Easy to Elegant Tablescapes and Centerpieces” during this noon class offered on Wednesday, Nov. 29. 

The final fall lunch and learn will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 13 when Mitch Robinson from the Strawberry Plains Audubon Center in Holly Springs shows participants how to attract feathered friends to your yard with his class, “Christmas Tree for the Birds.” Students will have hands-on training in how to decorate an evergreen tree with decorations that will attract birds and various wildlife to their yard.

Please visit for more information on these and other classes happening this fall. Discounts are available for senior citizens 55 and older. UM employees can use payroll deduction for any class over $60.