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Assemblyman Robert J. Castelli (R,C-Goldens Bridge) today spoke with kids about “democracy in action” at SUNY Purchase, located in the 93rd Assembly District.

The event, attended by 1,000 middle school-aged children, featured interactive conversation on the importance of advocacy and voting featuring Castelli, as well as Congresswoman Nita Lowey and panel moderator Dolores Obuch, a Purchase College faculty member and retired principal of the King Street School in Port Chester. The discussion engaged children in the electoral process and gave them a chance to ask local elected officials about how the American voting system works.

The discussion was part of the 2012-13 Arts-in-Education season of the Purchase College Performing Arts Center (PAC), which hosted a performance of the show Vote? produced by the Eckerd Theatre Company and focusing on the history of the right to vote in the United States prior to the moderated discussion. Questions were submitted by the students themselves.

“In order to prepare a thriving, new electorate to lead our nation into a prosperous future, we need to instill the importance of voting at the youngest age possible,” Castelli said. “The production of Vote? took an entertaining and innovative approach to sharing the foundation of our democracy with the next generation of voters and prepared the children in attendance for the moderated discussion that followed. Seeing these local youngsters become engaged with our electoral process was a truly gratifying experience and I was honored to share my insight with these future leaders.”

The PAC’s Arts-in-Education program is committed to offering performances and workshops by world-class artists to enrich, enlighten and inspire thousands of students each year. Performances are made accessible to all students. Audience members gain insight and knowledge in language and visual arts, history, geography, music, theatre, and cultural awareness. Teaching guides allow teachers to integrate the experience into the curriculum.

Vote? is the story of a teenager who suddenly slips back through time into the Revolutionary War and travels forward through history into the era of Vietnam. Together with such courageous leaders as Lucretia Mott, Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King Jr., she participates in changing the face of democracy.

Performances are selected for specific age groups, from pre-K to grade 12, on the basis of suitability and direct connections to curriculum and Learning Standards. There is always a question and answer session after the performance, and sometimes “Bonus Events,” such as one-hour, in-depth discussions.

For more information about Arts-in-Education, visit www.artscenter.org/education or call 914-251-6232.

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