kulture kids arts program gives cleveland students a 'presidential' surprise

A local nonprofit arts program gave a group of Cleveland students a White House-sized thrill earlier this week in the form of a letter from President Barack Obama.

K-2 pupils at Andrew J. Rickoff Elementary School received the presidential missive on June 3 for their work with Kulture Kids, a group of artists affiliated with Young Audiences of Northeast Ohio that provides programming for schools and organizations. Over 250 students obtained a copy of the letter commending them for their involvement with the program.

"It was a nice surprise for students who have been working hard all year," says Robin Pease, founder of Kulture Kids. "The kids were in shock."

The initiative collaborated with pupils on the concept of citizenship. Different classes worked on variations of this theme, with second-graders learning about employment and how technology has impacted citizenship. All students utilized the arts to bring the subject to life.

The Commander in Chief got word of the program from a Kulture Kids' artist, who sent along a photo of a student dressed as the President himself. Washington wrote back with a letter of encouragement, and group officials made copies for every student involved.

Kulture Kids just finished its third year of residency at A.J. Rickoff. Young participants put on a program in March, an event that included dance and original songs. A letter from the leader of the free world is a pretty good payoff for a little bit of creativity, Pease believes.

"These kids will remember this forever," she says.

SOURCE: Robin Pease
WRITER: Douglas J. Guth
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