A Prince Edward Island tradition is back in full force this year after several quiet years during the pandemic.
For former regulars, the words "community school" will bring back memories of learning or burnishing a skill while socializing with others at a low cost, in one of several Island schools or community centres that serve as the venue for the weekly classes. As a bonus, there's a snack break in the middle of each class to let you mingle with people learning something else.
"You see your neighbours, you see new people, you learn new things," provincial co-ordinator June Ellis told CBC's Island Morning.
"I'm finding it's good for newcomers as well because they can touch base with people and get to know people in their community and people get to know them."
Most courses cost between $10 and $30 for the full 10 weeks, though some will involve a charge for supplies on top of that. You can sign up for cake decorating or crocheting, welding or watercolour, card making or cross stitch, astronomy or appliqué.
The halls will be alive with the sound of music as people pick up the guitar, ukulele or fiddle.
Or… anyone for belly dancing? "That's always fun," said Ellis.
This year six buildings will host the classes:
Donagh Regional School.
The O'Leary Community Centre.
O'Leary Elementary School.
Stratford Elementary School.
Summerside Intermediate School.
Vernon River Consolidated School.
"The instructors are all volunteers, and each school has their own committee and they're all volunteers," said Ellis.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools weren't allowed to host outside events due to cleaning and isolation protocols, so community school took a break.
Last year, said Ellis, Summerside Intermediate did offer some classes, and Vernon River hosted the Knotty Knitters group, "but with COVID, the rest of them couldn't operate. So I had to operate it through our Facebook page, through YouTube videos on different things like knitting, crocheting, woodworking — that type of thing….
"Of course, with just Facebook, we didn't have face-to-face with people."
You have to be at least 12, 14 or 16 years old to sign up for some courses, but others don't have any age limits. "So it's a big variety, from, say, 12 to 85," Ellis said.
Registration deadlines will depend on the location, with cut-offs between September 3 and 21.