Weather Forecast


Gentle Saturday in Cottage Grove connects ‘community of learners’

Woodbury resident Becky Amble (right) and mother-daughter duo Teresa, (center), and Kaitlyn Schmitz, 15, paint on yupo paper during an art class at District 833 Community Education’s Gentle Saturday Saturday, April 5, Cottage Grove Middle School. More than 400 people registered for the all-day event. (Bulletin photo by Emily Buss)1 / 3
Art instructor Samah Fahmy explains a painting technique to Erin Hoffman, of Woodbury, during a Gentle Saturday class at Cottage Grove Middle School. (Bulletin photo by Emily Buss)2 / 3
Park High School student Kaitlyn Schmitz, 15, and her mother, Teresa, paint vibrant scenes on yupo paper during of of many art classes at Gentle Saturday at Cottage Grove Middle School. (Bulletin photo by Emily Buss)3 / 3

Hundreds of area residents filled the classrooms at Cottage Grove Middle School Saturday to get a hands-on lesson in art, health care, essential oils, even bonsai tree maintenance as part of Gentle Saturday.

Organized by District 833 Community Education, Gentle Saturday’s spring event draws the largest number of registrations, said Gretchen Carlson, coordinator of the Adult Enrichment program.

“We love this day because it brings so many people together to learn in a relaxed setting,” she said. “It’s a chance for them to get away from their busy week and and come get excited about learning.”

During the morning session, Cottage Grove resident Teresa Schmitz and her daughter, Kaitlyn, 15, were mixing vibrant paints and watercoloring on yupo paper. Yupo paper is a synthetic canvas with a polypropylene coating which allows for a unique, erasable watercoloring experience. The challenge of painting on a plastic-like surface, Teresa said, is what attracted her to the class.

“I was looking for a new hobby this year,” she said. “Something for me. Something to take my mind off my hectic week.”

A novice painter, Teresa and her daughter said this was the first time they have tried their hand at the art of watercolor.

Sitting across the table, however, was Becky Amble, a Woodbury resident with an extensive art background. Dabbling for many years in oil painting, photography and fused glass, Ample said she attends the Community Education art classes as often as she can.

Down the hall, participants were learning how to master the art of bonsai tree pruning while others were educated on caring for loved ones in nursing homes.

Afternoon sessions included classes on quiltmaking, using essential oils and how to properly cast a fishing line, among a variety of other learning opportunities.

“We really wanted to connect  our community of learners,” Carlson said. “A lot of these people, this is their first time in a class like this. Sometimes you have to take that risk that might turn into a new hobby.”

Carlson said more than 400 people registered for the all-day event.

Gentle Saturday events take place twice a year, in the spring and fall.

Various District 833 Community Education programs, however, run all year long. For more information about upcoming classes, visit the website