Herbert Cohen uses the lathe in Orchard Cove’s woodshop. Photo: Walter Winthrop

Heading back to campus

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Heading back to campus

Herbert Cohen uses the lathe in Orchard Cove’s woodshop. Photo: Walter Winthrop

Senior living community offers a second chance at a college experience

Soon, autumn leaves will fall upon tree-lined campuses, as curious minds learn from top professors, activists debate current events, artists critique each other’s works in a communal studio, sporty types exercise together in the gym, and budding writers craft their manuscripts. An Ivy League school comes to mind? How about a world-class senior living community instead?

As part of Hebrew SeniorLife, Orchard Cove’s connection to college life extends further than an affiliation with Harvard Medical School. Off the beaten path and overlooking Reservoir Pond in Canton, Orchard Cove bustles with daily activity, including full schedules of cultural, political, social, entertainment, lifelong learning, and wellness programming to give residents opportunities to tap into all their interests, existing or new, and to broaden their minds and experiences.

Residents can attend talks by best-selling authors (some who may be residents themselves), lectures by noted experts or performances by acclaimed musicians. They take courses on such topics as recent Supreme Court cases, children’s literature, and Italian cinema. Field trips to Boston-area attractions and museums are frequent.

For Sara Lee Silberman, an Orchard Cove resident who taught U.S. history at Connecticut College for 39 years and is familiar with campus life, “If one’s college experience was as a resident in a dormitory, there are definite and multiple similarities,” she said.

Orchard Cove resident Terry Levinson, who recently retired from Boston Government Systems where she assisted with programs focused on clean internal combustion engines and fuels, as well as batteries and electric vehicles, said that one of the things she likes is that the experience is very much like college “in terms of similar age groups, interest in learning, bridge playing, finding the right fit, and hanging out with people of similar interests.”

Toby Orel, a retired title examiner, earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts and master’s degree in political science from Northeastern University, but “never lived in a dorm so this is as close as I’ll get,” adding that, “You have all these people around you who are your peers that can relate to you and that you can relate to.”

Herbert Cohen, who after his service in the Air Force worked for two companies doing research and development for the Department of Defense and NASA before running his own plumbing supply company for 20 years, said the experience he’s had at Orchard Cove was very much like at Syracuse University, his alma mater.

“Orchard Cove might be considered a graduate school where your curriculum is the interaction with other people from different backgrounds and areas of interest to see how we are the same but different,” he said. “People from different sociological and economic backgrounds live in harmony and continue to learn from each other and continue to keep their minds active.”

There are some things that differ between college life and Orchard Cove – no mandatory classes, course requirements, or the dreaded exams. The only thing driving residents is a sincere love of learning and a natural curiosity for life.

To learn more about Orchard Cove, visit orchard-cove.org

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