NAIL celebrates 20 years

Mikell Rhoades (left) and Lita Swanson (right) welcome fellow members and guests to New Adventures’ 20th anniversary celebration. (Photo by Kirk Tuey)

Mikell Rhoades (left) and Lita Swanson (right) welcome fellow members and guests to New Adventures’ 20th anniversary celebration. (Photo by Kirk Tuey)

Catherine Hammond

New Adventures in Learning recently marked 20 years of bringing lifelong learning to the Southeast Valley. Over 200 people celebrated that milestone at SunBird Golf Resort on January 11, 2019. Lee Ross, one of the original members, recollects, “It is hard to believe we have been thriving for 20 years. And like good wine, the organization has gotten bigger and better than ever. When Marc and I first moved to Sun Lakes, we were introduced to Sandra and Stan Olivier. They were the main thrust behind the growth. They immediately cornered Marc into teaching, and Sandra conned me into, at first, just depositing the checks. That led to my being treasurer for 12 years, all of them enjoyable. Now I just attend classes when I can.”

Two forces came together to create New Adventures in Learning in 1998. Chandler-Gilbert Community College had built an extension on the corner of Riggs Road and Alma School Road in Sun Lakes to serve the nearby retirement community. Mary Kaye Allen became the director of Sun Lakes Education Center. More or less simultaneously, a group of volunteers came together to provide lifelong-learning opportunities in the area. The moment was right, and these two organizations combined. Along with Lee Ross, four other of those charter members are still active: Barbara Fridkin, Margaret Grish, Ruth Marcus and Lettie Merriam.

In 2006, the college added a second story to the building which provided larger classrooms and state-of-the-art technology. The college at that time changed the name of the facility to the Sun Lakes Center. Membership doubled within two years. In the Summer of 2010, New Adventures added a summer semester to the original two semesters. The organization is an all-volunteer, not-for-profit 501(c)(3). In 2018, 175 volunteers contributed time and skills to support the presentation of approximately 250 classes for the year. This year, the addition of online enrollment and fee payment for classes makes registration easier.

Mary Kenny headed the committee that organized the anniversary party. Wayne Wright, outgoing president, welcomed members and guests who enjoyed light refreshments, a cash bar, door prizes, a 50/50 raffle and an opportunity to spend time with fellow classmates.

Online registration for spring semester began on January 23, 2019. To access the new registration system, go to the New Adventures website,, and click the Classes link, followed by clicking the orange rectangle marked Register/Classes Spring 2019. For further information on any of the 60 classes offered this semester, check, call 480-857-5500 or visit the Sun Lakes Center at the corner of Riggs and Alma School. New Adventures in Learning is affiliated with Chandler-Gilbert Community College. Membership costs $50 a year plus an additional $15 fee per semester that goes to CGCC.