LASA Master Classes: Online Programs Entertain and Educate

Malvika Pradhan, Staff Writer

LASA Master Classes, which allow people to pay to take classes on a variety of topics, were started by PFLASA as a way to raise money for the school and bring the LASA community together during the pandemic. PFLASA head of fundraising Geeta Suggs had the idea for the classes and now manages them. 

“I chaired that fundraising team,” Suggs said. “But also, I was trying to brainstorm how we could not necessarily just get money, but how we could do anything in this kind of virtual world. So you know on Facebook how they have those ads, or on Instagram there are ads for different classes you can take out there. They’re called Master Classes or Skillshare, and I was like, ‘Oh, it’d be really cool if we could do something like that.’”

The classes were only supposed to last until the end of September, matching the length of the normal PFLASA fundraising drive. But Suggs said people kept wanting to teach classes. 

“It just kind of took off because people would start emailing me, ‘Hey, how do I teach a class? I’d like to teach a class,’ and I was like, ‘Well, OK, we’ll do a couple more, and then it’ll be done.’ And it just kept on going,” Suggs said. “And then as we got really into it, then I was like, ‘Well, I might as well advertise for teachers and see if anybody else wants to teach one.’”

Senior Sofia Syed taught a class about Irish dancing and Irish soda bread with her mother and brother. She first heard about the classes from the LASA Instagram account and her teacher.

“The LASA Instagram has been posting a lot about them, and then sometimes, I’ll get emails from the principal or other administrators advertising them,” Syed said. “My French teacher has also been doing a few Master Classes, so every once in a while, she’ll ask us, ‘Oh, have you guys signed up for this one? It looks interesting.’”

The classes teach a wide variety of skills, from scotch tasting to meditation, which was taught by junior Anya Kureshi. In the class, students were introduced to meditation and did mindfulness exercises. 

“I was definitely a little nervous,” Kureshi said. “But for this one, the goal is, at least in meditation classes, you’re supposed to be calm, so it kind of rounds it out.”

Master Classes are open to everyone, even those who aren’t associated with LASA. According to Suggs, they have had teachers from all over the U.S.. One class was taught by a professor from Southwestern University, called 10 Tips from a College Professor on What Students Need to Know.

The price of attending Master Classes was originally $25, regardless of age. However, due to the student-oriented nature of many of them, the price was reduced to $10 for LASA students, according to Suggs. 

“It was probably the end of November and all our classes were $25, and it was just a one-price fee,” Suggs said. “And then, as this kept growing, especially the college type classes, we added a student pricing for $10. And there was Financial Planning for Students. Some of the classes are just geared to the students. And so we did $10 now for all classes for students and $25 for adults.” 

Kureshi has a meditation club at LASA which she started as part of her Girl Scout project. She wanted to teach a class to give more exposure to her club.

“It was really easy because PFLASA kind of advertises the class so you don’t have to do much of your own advertisement,” Kureshi said. “So it was just a good platform to get the word out about my club.”

Kureshi thinks that the classes should continue, even when students go back to in-person school. She said it’s a unique way to learn new skills while donating to the school.

“They’re really cool,” Kureshi said. “It’s nice to actually be able to pay to learn something instead of just donating to PFLASA.”

For now, the classes are scheduled to run until the end of April. Suggs isn’t sure about next year yet, but she said people might be too busy to come. 

“The only issue is we’re going to be a lot busier if we’re actually in person because all the sports are back, [and] everybody’s going to be busier with their calendar outside of Master Classes,” Suggs said. “I just can’t imagine [that it will] be this busy with Master Classes because people have other stuff to do. I don’t know.”

While the Master Classes have been successful according to Suggs, they haven’t raised as much money as PFLASA’s normal donation drive, which they still held this year. 

“So a general donation drive that we usually do is just, ‘Hey, write us a check or donate here.’ And that has always been really successful,” Suggs said. “This has just been a cherry on top of that. And it has been incredibly successful, and we’ve never done anything like this before.”

Anyone can sign up to take a class on the PFLASA website. To teach a class, email w[email protected] or direct message the LASA Instagram account.