Celebration Lifelong’s courses, lectures, and other activities had strong ending last Fall. With Lifelong’s dozens of opportunities for engagement at all levels, one of the highlights was the final class session of the class “A Citadel of Democracy: A History of The United States Capitol Building.” Offered by Mark Hayes, this new class for Celebration Lifelong’s offerings was Mark’s sixth different class with others being on the White House, the Presidency, and iconic presidents and iconic first ladies. In this class, Mark highlighted much about the U.S. Capitol Building, from the selection of Washington, D.C. to serve as the seat of the U.S. government, to the high point where the actual building would be situated, to early renditions of what the building should – and did – look like, to specific architectural attributes and treasures in that structure and on its grounds.

The highlight of this class – and perhaps of all of Mark’s classes – was a one-on-one interview with The Honorable Patricia S. Schroeder. Former Congresswoman Schroeder, a Celebration resident, was elected to the U.S. Congress on twelve occasions to represent her district in Colorado, thus providing her with twenty-four years in that role. In this class, she brought to life so much of her experiences in that building. Mark’s questions stayed in line with the purpose of the class – the U.S. Capitol Building – and thus focused on those memories and reflections. For example, did her orientation as a newly elected official cover much about that history? The answer: “no”. She was asked about her experience in the House chamber, and what it was like when she was on the podium chairing a session of the U.S. House of Representatives. And her favorite place was the cloakroom – one reason was that, because, as a mother, she could have her children with her and still handle her responsibilities.

She talked about the fact that seats in the House chamber are not assigned, and how that worked. Fascinating was her discussion about the assignment of offices, and her preferred office building (Longworth), as well as some “hidden” places in the Capitol (such as the “Education Room”). Her excitement when the President or foreign leader came to speak was interesting, as were her comments about the other chamber – the U.S. Senate. She reported feeling very safe in the Capitol building and complex, and also shared her feelings when she decided to retire from her decades of meaningful public service.
Throughout the interview, the Celebration Lifelong class was captivated by former Congresswoman Schroeder’s reflective insights, candor, humor and engagement. She shared her nearly one-quarter century in one of the most meaningful leadership roles for our country, and how it felt as a vanguard of women in such a position (and how that evolved with many more women in these roles during her tenure).

What an absolute joy it was to be able to hear from, and learn from, the passionate and dedicated Patricia Schroeder. It was a true honor for all Celebration Lifelong participants to have a treat such as this to wrap up this course.

Celebration Lifelong is a long-term community partnership between the Celebration Foundation and the Celebration Residential Owners Association (CROA). More details about upcoming courses and activities, and instructor opportunities, are at https://celebrationfoundation.org/what-we-do/celebration-lifelong/