By Adriana Avila, Managing Editor
Old School is teaching the arts of traditional and sustainable living, said Part-time C ommu n i c a t i o n s Instructor and Old School founder Maggie Shepard.
Based in the Albuquerque Mennonite Church on Girard Boulevard, Old School teaches the basics of a viable lifestyle that have been used for centuries, she said.
“People are finally getting back to their roots and the natural way to live,” said Shepard.
The program offers several classes that include canning, cheese making, as well as a kitchen cosmetics class that teaches students how to make skin cream and lip balm.
“Some of the coolest classes we’ve gone on now are our herbalism class, that teaches people how to make medicine from plants,” she said.
Shepard teaches classes on how to make homemade deodorant, chicken cooping, and how to traditionally manage women’s menstrual cycles, she said.
Former Electrical Engineering major and former Old School Instructor Peter Rice said the idea of the Old School benefits people because members of the community have different skills that can be shared.
”I think the strength in the Old School is that it provides a platform for these diverse members of the community to strut their stuff without making an uncertain time commitment,” he said.
Former Applied Sciences major and Old School attendee Jessica Sanchez said she likes Old School’s approach to the frugal lifestyle.
“I like how everything’s homemade. You can do it yourself. It doesn’t contain a lot of terrible ingredients and it’s relatively inexpensive,” she said.
Shepard said many of the classes cost less than $30 and the money collected from the classes pays for supplies, teacher’s pay, rental space and the website. Money that is left over is donated to the charity Water for People.
Since modern versions of products can be expensive, the traditional methods of homemade items can benefit people’s wallets and is also less harmful, like making products such as deodorant, she said.
“The modern versions are much more efficient at destroying odor, but in the process, it also destroys our health,” Shepard said,
“If you know you’re using an all-natural deodorant that they’re not going to be involved with the chemicals that cause cancer.”
Former Applied Sciences major Laura Carlisle said Old School is enjoyable and she knows exactly what ingredients are used in the products as opposed to store bought items.
“I’m actually kind of scared of everything they put in food and I don’t think you ever know what’s in anything,” she said.
Carlisle said she is interested in taking more classes, especially the Backyard Chicken Keeping course.
Rice said he took a French bread making class and it taught him a different method of baking bread that he still uses today.
“All my life I had to grease the pan and let it rise in oil. One thing I learned from the Old School is that you don’t need to do that, it works just fine,” he said.
Shepard thought up the idea of paying people to teach traditional skills because she wanted to save money by making her own food, she said.
“I wanted to learn these skills like how to can your own food, make your own cheese, make your own bread, cook with the sun and all these skills that our ancestors did and we kind of lost it, most of us,” Shepard said.
Rice said he knew Shepard for some time and she asked him to become a teacher.
“I’ve known Maggie for a long time and she recruited me to teach a class about buttermilk because it’s a real old school sort of beverage or something you could use for cooking,” he said.
Shepard said she wanted to call the program ‘Old School’ because the skills learned are old and traditional.
Old School began in May 2011 and started with 14 classes. Soon after, people started contacting Shepard about teaching, she said. There are now 40 classes offered per semester.
“It just grew and teachers started to coming out and saying ‘I can teach beekeeping, and I can teach how to culture milk, and I can teach how to cook with the sun and sewing and darning socks’ and all of these skills to be more practical and functional came,” she said.
With an average of 10 students in each class and 40 classes offered per semester, Old School has grown to having hundreds of students.
Old School welcomes people to share their skills in traditional and frugal methods of living because it helps the program grow.
“That’s what’s kept this program alive was that it’s evolved because we’ve added more and neater stuff as we’ve gone,” Shepard said.
Old School has partnered with Erda Gardens in the South Valley and classes will also be hosted there soon, said Shepard.
For more information and a full list of classes, visit abqoldschool.com