Concord’s college campuses have a wealth of offerings to, well, offer

Jon (right) stood in with the band for a few tracks during a ProJam open jam session at NEC Concord last year.
Jon (right) stood in with the band for a few tracks during a ProJam open jam session at NEC Concord last year.
Michael McCann, a professor and writer, sits in his office at UNH School of Law in Concord on Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014. Michael McCann, a professor and writer, sits in his office at UNH School of Law in Concord last week. Susan Doucet
Michael McCann, a professor and writer, sits in his office at UNH School of Law in Concord on Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014. Michael McCann, a professor and writer, sits in his office at UNH School of Law in Concord last week. Susan Doucet
NHTI's Stage Lynx Productions will put on three performances of "The Diary of Anne Frank" this weekend in Sweeney Auditorium.
A team of NHTI Animation and Graphic Game Programming students who took second place in an industry-sponsored regional competition in 2008 pose for a photo with their game called "Infectious Munch," originally developed during a Game Jam. Courtesy of NHTI
NHTI freshman Logan Elliott stretches for a rebound during the wheelchair basketball benefit for the Zech DeVits Memorial Equipment Fund at NHTI in Concord on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz
NHTI freshman Logan Elliott stretches for a rebound during the wheelchair basketball benefit for the Zech DeVits Memorial Equipment Fund at NHTI in Concord on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz

We all know that schools are for learning and that an education is the most important thing we can arm ourselves with in today’s world.

We also know that college is supposed to be fun.

Luckily, some of Concord’s college campuses understand this important balance of work and play and offer plenty of programs that blend the two – and some that even ditch the work element entirely.

As institutions of higher learning, colleges are kind of supposed to offer more than just a books-and-classroom education – after all, everyone gets a good 12 years of that before getting to college. Instead, higher education is supposed to refer to education in the general, life sense, as in experiences.

Thanks to some college campuses in Concord, there are always lots of opportunities for both students and regular residents of the city to experience all kinds of enlightening, engaging and entertaining experiences. Sometimes there are even purely educational programs offered to the public, serving as sort of free mini classes.

We should address the elephant in the room before we get too deep into this: The vast majority of programming available to the public comes from either NHTI or NEC Concord. So if you don’t see a ton of hoppin’ events listed for Granite State College or UNH School of Law, it’s not because we’re intentionally leaving them out – it’s just that there’s either not much or nothing available.

At NHTI, there’s pretty much always something going on that members of the public can get in on. In fact, we Insiders have taken part in some of these things in the recent past – the wheelchair basketball game, the Wiffle Ball tournament, Quonquer the Quad, Pizza Wars, just to name a few (boy, we really have tried a lot of stuff at NHTI, huh?).

In the department of pure fun, there are quite a few things worth highlighting at NHTI. One is movies.

The NHTI Film Society hosts a Friday Night Film series on select Fridays throughout the year in the Sweeney Auditorium. These events are open to the public, and students get in free (members of the public are asked to pay a suggested donation of $5). It ends up being a low-cost, low-key movie night for anyone who wants to attend. The next one is March 23, featuring Dawson City: Frozen Time, at 7 p.m.

The Stage Lynx Club is NHTI’s drama club. They put on a full-length play each semester that the public can attend. It’s a pretty small club compared to a lot of theater groups out there, so participants have to be pretty creative and talented to make everything work, which they do – we’ve seen it for ourselves.

There are also sports at NHTI. Basketball is popular at the Dr. Goldie Crocker Wellness Center, whether it’s either the men’s or women’s basketball teams, visiting teams using the gym or students and staffers hopping in wheelchairs for a benefit game. There’s also soccer, golf, cross country, softball, volleyball, dance and even bowling. All of the sports can be checked out by spectators.

On the educational side, there are many options as well, including the Wings of Knowledge series. Wings of Knowledge is an annual series of cultural events which are free and open to the public. They’re informational and can also be fun, and the next one takes place the day this paper comes out – March 6. That one will feature Jeffrey Ryan, author of Appalachian Odyssey, in the Sweeney Auditorium at 6 p.m.

There’s also Walk In Wednesday, which is a good resource for prospective students. The program aims to help students submit applications, complete placement tests, meet advisers or department heads, apply for housing and other things along those lines. It does not apply to health programs, though.

There are also a number of one-off seminars, clinics and workshops that are good for people who are just bored for a few hours and want to learn something new. For instance, next Friday (March 16) there will be an Orthopaedic Basic Casting Workshop, an all-day workshop open to the public geared toward beginner and intermediate orthopaedic technologists. That workshop will cost $100.

We honestly have barely scratched the surface regarding all the programming NHTI has to offer, but the college’s website has a great directory listing all activities categorized by type (general interest, academic, student leadership/community service and athletic). Go to nhti.edu for complete listings, or call 271-6484 for more information.

While NHTI might be the biggest campus in the city, NEC Concord might be the smallest, occupying just a small storefront-type location on North Main Street. It packs quite a punch in the programming department, though.

While interim director of public information Tom Horgan did stress that NEC Concord was indeed an educational institution and not just a recreational one, he did admit that cultural arts-related programming does make up close to half of all activity there.

For the last couple of years, the campus – which has some classroom space upstairs – has become a hot venue for live music at night, thanks to the Listening Room Series we’ve written much about in these pages since its inception.

One of the staples of NEC Concord’s cultural arts programming is the Granite State of Mind series with Rob Azevedo. This all started as nights of solo acoustic performances with question-and-answer sessions with the audience mixed in between songs, but has grown to something much bigger and more popular.

The music nights at NEC Concord now have two basic formats: tribute nights or more traditional original sets. Once a month, the Granite State of Mind series takes over with various tributes to big-time acts. A bunch of local musicians will get together to all cover one artist or one genre, such as Bruce Springsteen or music from Woodstock. the public gets to check it out for free. As a result, these shows have quickly become standing-room-only affairs –the next one will be a tribute to Van Morrison on March 17.

When it isn’t a tribute night, you can hear original music by artists from Concord to Austin, Texas. New England singer-songwriters Tristan Omand and Will Hatch will be the next ones up on that front – they’ll be doing an evening of playing each other’s songs and telling some stories on March 31 at 7:30 p.m.

On a limited basis, there are also some open jam nights to take part in. Anyone who plays an instrument or sings can show up to the open jam night and just hop on stage and start going at it. Instruments are provided, and there are always good musicians on hand. We even played in one of these open jams in 2016.

Apart from these things we’ve mentioned, you can take tours of any of the campuses you might be interested in, and all of the schools are always eager to inform people about what they have to offer. Contact info for all of them is on pages 16 and 17, so get in touch with whomever you want.

Author: Jon Bodell

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