At a special meeting on May 15, the OLLI Board of Directors decided that for the fall term we will continue to offer our program using Zoom or other online platforms.
The primary reason for this decision is the uncertainty about when it will be safe for our members to return to in-person activities. In this we must follow the decisions made by George Mason University about its campuses, as well as guidance from the governor of Virginia and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. George Mason’s decision about its fall term is expected by May 31, but we cannot wait that long because of the lead time we need to finalize the curriculum, for timely preparation of the schedule, and printing of the catalog. Governor Northam’s three-phase plan for relaxing the original coronavirus restrictions projects that Phase III, which permits large gatherings, will not begin until late July or early August at best. Even then, vulnerable populations will still be encouraged to stay home. Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay’s recent message said that he expects that life will not return to the way it was pre-coronavirus “for many more months.”
We will continue to monitor the situation closely in the weeks and months ahead and will look for the earliest opportunity to resume in-person activities at OLLI. Until that time, we are fortunate that we have developed the capability to offer our program online in a format that has been well received by our members.
All OLLI members owe a huge bushel basket full of thanks to Alice, Shannon, two Susans, and Karen. “Who?” some of you may ask.
Alice Slayton Clark and Shannon Kim Morrow are the OLLI staff members that perform the nuts and bolts of our classroom programming and scheduling. Although not a classroom presence, during a typical term, these two can be found working from the Tallwood Cottage down the hill, assisting program planning groups, contacting instructors, and filling in our class schedules. They assisted Susan Todenhoft, our well-known administrator, who took the lead converting spring-term classes to online within a two- to three-week turnaround time! Every single spring-term instructor was contacted to determine their willingness to teach via Zoom and the entire spring schedule was totally revised to accommodate the new reality. Susan Todenhoft was busy with the technical requirements: arranging Zoom licensing, online scheduling, Zoom training for our site assistants and our instructors, and answering Zoom questions for members, and a whole lot more.
OLLI’s registrar Susan Job, another Tallwood Cottage staff member, notified OLLI members of canceled classes and of the 100 new Zoom-class times/dates/course numbers. Karen Nash, our finance associate, provided member refunds for trips and fee classes and canceled our various external obligations to bus companies, church, and parking lot rentals, etc.
All worked tirelessly and seamlessly to ensure that OLLI had a spring term (and beyond) that we can be proud of. Thank you so much, Alice, Shannon, Susan J., Karen, and Susan T., and all our wonderful site assistants for making our spring-term program so meaningful!
By Alice Slayton Clark Communications and Program Associate
Join the OLLI Special Events Program Planning Group at its next planning meeting online on Wednesday, May 27 at 12:15. Visit the following link on that date/time: Zoom (meeting ID 524 106 880). We will talk about all of the fabulous presentations and excursions being planned for OLLI for winter term 2021 and beyond. All of these great programs are designed and coordinated by members like you who volunteer their time to shape the OLLI curriculum. You do not need to be an expert in curriculum development or education management, and you can dedicate as much or as little time as you have available. There is no pressure. So, join us; brainstorm on classes; make some new friends; have fun!
All members are welcome to attend program planning group meetings. Your ideas for presentations and events are encouraged, and the possibilities of online programming permit a broad focus on member interests. Join us at one of these online meetings.
a meeting of the Loudoun Program Planning Group on Tuesday, May 26, at 1:00—this will be an online meeting using Zoom (meeting ID 885 5123 1429);
a meeting of the Science, Technology, and Health Program Planning Group on Thursday, June 4, at 1:00—this will be an online meeting using Zoom (meeting ID 862 6569 8947).
By Rosemary Lubinski, Outreach Committee Chair and Board Member
Please join us for an Outreach Committee meeting on May 28, 2020, at noon. We need your help in maintaining and increasing our membership. Using online platforms poses a great opportunity to present our courses to those at home. We are open to your ideas for marketing. If you cannot make the meeting, please send me your ideas or how you think you can help. Thanks in advance for your help.
Not only has OLLI’s annual literary journal surmounted the challenges posed by social distancing and quarantine, it has also sought out and found a new road to publication. The 2020 edition of OLLI Ink is initially published as an online flip book, which allows readers to “turn” pages with a click of the mouse, in much the same way a Kindle book is read.
Click here to view the OLLI Ink flip book, available now on the OLLI website (under DocStore). Print copies of OLLI Ink 2020 will be available once in-person classes and meetings have resumed.
Now entering its 10th year, OLLI Ink includes pieces as short as a haiku and as long as a memoir or short story. Writings come from a wide spectrum of OLLI members, including but by no means limited to, those in writing workshops.
Topics this year range from bison to spiders to bees, to pigs that sing to the sea, and to the sea itself; from the Wars of the Roses to World War II to Vietnam to Army brats in war and peace; from the delights of a roadside bakery to grocery lists and the joys of hot chocolate; from evocations of India’s villages and autumn leaves, to the moon, childhood companions, boyfriends, couples, families, and family life.
In its pages you will meet a piano named Chocolate along with several other interesting characters who give life to limericks and haikus—and vice versa.
By Norma Jean Reck, Theater Lovers’ Group Coordinator
Renowned dancer Twyla Tharp once said, “Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.” Thanks to their creative genius, theaters, musicians, and other artists have teamed up with various technologies to provide us much-needed entertainment options while we stay at home and socially distance in our battle against the novel coronavirus. Their ingenuity has ameliorated our struggle somewhat by enabling us “to go to the theater” virtually—from the comfort of our couches at home.
The Theater Lovers’ Group (TLG) had planned several theater outings, including to 1st Stage Tysons; American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, VA; Contemporary American Theater Festival in Shepherdstown, WV; and a cabaret with Lisa Vroman at Mason’s School of Theater. Although attending theater in-person is not an option with theaters closed due to COVID‑19, we can still satisfy our craving by taking advantage of the live-streaming theater productions available online—not only in the theaters in our D.C. metro area, but nationally in cities such as Chicago or Los Angeles, and even internationally, like the Royal National Theatre in London. Just Google a theater that interests you to find out it is offering. Ticket prices range from free to PWYC (pay-what-you-can) to a set dollar amount.
1st Stage Tysons (1ststage.org) offers many interesting free events. Go online to register. On Saturday, May 23, at 3:00, actors from 1st Stage’s upcoming Season 13 show The Nance will share some of their experiences on being an actor during the time of COVID‑19.
On Sunday, May 24, at 2:00, leaders of Northern Virginia-based theater companies will talk about their progress through the COVID‑19 crisis and what comes next. Peter Marks, chief theatre critic of the Washington Post, will be the moderator.
American Shakespeare Center (americanshakespearecenter.com) is now streaming the 2020 Actors’ Renaissance Season and three productions from their national tour through scheduled pay-per-view ticketing. Tickets start at $10. Next week they will do John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, a classic of American literature that became a Broadway hit in Frank Galati’s Tony Award-winning adaptation.
The Contemporary American Theater Festival (catf.org) has created a repertory schedule for July where you will hear from playwrights, actors, directors, designers, and other team members who work together to bring six bold, new plays to life. Opening weekend, July 10 -12, you’ll see scenes from each play, talk theater in special pre-show productions, have lively happy hours, and have Q&A with all six playwrights.
Mason Arts@Home (cfa.calendar.gmu.edu) archives its streaming events, which are free. Some examples are: Behind the Scenes of Rags: An Inside Look at the Creative Process of Staging a Revised Musical; Professor Kaiulani Lee discusses her play and movie based on Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring; Tangier Island is Sinking. Get an inside look at a creation of this new play with School of Theater alumnus Zach Wilcox. The discussion will include a reading of an excerpt.
Although Mason’s campus is shut down, online entertainment continues for us to access and enjoy. Dr. Linda Apple Monson produces a periodic “Notes from the Director.” This email is full of interesting online performances by the students and faculty of the School of Music. If you would like to receive these bulletins, just send an email to Brianna Schoen at email@example.com. Also, the Center for the Arts has a website Mason Arts at Home which has a calendar of on-line events.
Meetings & Clubs
Please note: Physical meetings for clubs and activities are canceled until further notice in accordance with Mason’s guidelines. OLLI is conducting its classes and activities online. Refer to the university’s coronavirus website for official university updates and check the OLLI Calendar for revised information.
The following list covering the next two weeks is extracted for your convenience from the master online calendar maintained by the office, with direct web links added when available. The list is accurate as of mid-week but for the most up-to-date information, please view the latest forecast of coming events on our website (News/OLLI Calendar). Note: All OLLI members are welcome at, and encouraged to attend (online), meetings of the Board of Directors, committees and resource groups, kick-off coffees, etc. (bolded below).
OLLI E-News was created by Rod Zumbro, who served as its editor from 2005 to 2013.
Chief Editor: Paul Van Hemel
Associate Editor: David Gundry
Weekly Editor Team: David Gundry, John Nash, Sheri Siesseger, Leslie Vandivere,
Paul Van Hemel Proofreaders: Rebecca Jann, Susan Van Hemel, Linda Randall, Tom Appich, Roz Stark,
Backup Chief Editor: Alice Slayton Clark
Submissions: Members are encouraged to submit letters to the editor, letters to Ms. Ollie Ettakit (on etiquette matters), OLLI-related news items, articles, and photos. Submit material to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Deadline: Tuesday, 6:00, for that week’s issue (Monday, 6:00, for letters to the editor); early submissions are greatly appreciated. Please limit articles to about 250 words. Note: You can view past issues of OLLI E-News on the DocStore. To search the content of issues, use Search Our Site or put your search term in Google followed by “site:olli.gmu.edu/” without the quotes.