Black Friday, Virtual Learning, and Adding a Little Color

(guest newsletter by Dutch Brennan)

Black Friday

It might seem odd that a self-proclaimed computer geek would enjoy the craziness of Black Friday shopping but I do. Each year, I diligently pull out all of the ads in the newspaper, find the best deals, make a shopping list, and prepare to brave the early morning crowd. My 2020 Black Friday consisted of throwing on my mask, driving to the local tabletop gaming shop, and spending the day with some friends. Throughout the experience, I couldn’t help but to reflect on the day.

At one point, Black Friday was just Black Friday. We got up at the crack of dawn, crowded into stores, and started checking items off of our Chrismtas shopping list. As time went on, we saw the creation of Cyber Monday. This edged in on the first day of Buck Season, a long-standing tradition in Pennsylvania. Finally, nowadays businesses are starting their Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving. As a result, people arrive to Thanksgiving dinner late or leave early. It seems as though we’ve lost significant portions of our family and personal lives to commerce.

If there is one good thing that the Covid Era has done, it has given us a moment to pause. We as consumers can step back from our exceptionally fast-paced lives and ask ourselves what we really want. Do we really want to spend an entire weekend shopping? Would we rather spend some of that time with our family or within the peacefulness of nature? We have been given a moment to think and sometimes that’s just enough time for us to put our lives on a better track.

I do expect to continue my Black Friday shopping in the future but I think I’ll be a little more measured in what I let interfere with my family time.

Virtual Learning

Over the last few weeks, area public school districts have all migrated to a virtual model. Part of this decision revolves around state mandates. Another part is simply dealing with the idea that many schools don’t have the space for proper social distancing. As a result, students no longer interact in person, which is crucial for developing socialization skills. Some students also lack the work ethic that comes with attending an “educational facility.” At home, virtual learning can certainly present its share of challenges. How can a parent expose their child to the benefits of in-school education, while still they still attend school virtually?

At ArtsAltoona, we try to bridge the gap between virtual learning and in-school learning with our Learning Pods. In the morning, parents drop their child off at our center, just like they would drop a child off to school. Children enter a clean, socially distanced space, where they have more than enough room to attend virtual school and have the benefit of an adult proctor present. If a student’s school day ends early, ArtsAltoona has a variety of activities available for that student. We provide a safe, Family-friendly environment to students in the community. For qualifying students, we also have scholarships available, to offset the cost of our service.

To learn more about our Learning Pods program, contact us at or visit

ArtsAltoona Center Murals

For those who live in the community, you may have noticed some murals being developed on the 23rd street and alley sides of the ArtsAltoona Center. We wanted to add a welcoming spark of color to our otherwise brick building. Two talented artists, Pamela Snyder-Etters and Olivia Steele were kind enough to volunteer for those tasks. Stop by the building and have a look. It is certainly a site to see!

Dutch Brennan
ArtsAltoona Board Member