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HomeCommunity EventAssemblywoman Buttenschon partners with local organizations for her Summer Reading Collaboration

Assemblywoman Buttenschon partners with local organizations for her Summer Reading Collaboration

           July 13, 2021 – Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon (D-Utica/Rome) hosted a press conference to announce the local groups she will be partnering with as part of her 2021 Summer Reading Collaboration. The events are free to the public and will take place throughout July and August.


“I’m so thankful that we can once again gather as a community to help foster a love of reading and learning in our youth through exciting and interactive activities,” Buttenschon said. “Whether it’s seeing animals from all over the world, exploring the impressive history of our region or meeting Mohawk Valley performers and athletes at the top of their field, our kids will have an exciting opportunity to explore new interests and expand their world. I want to thank our community partners who came together to make this collaboration a reality, and I encourage all the younger residents in our region to attend these free events.”  


            Buttenschon is collaborating with the Utica Zoo and New York Power Authority (NYPA), the Oneida County History Center, the Utica Comets, Broadway Utica and For The Good Inc. to provide this summer programming.


“We are really excited about the expansion of Assemblywoman Buttenschon’s Summer Reading Challenge, which includes so many of the library’s longstanding community partners.  This program recognizes that reading is so often the entry into exploration for children, and taking advantage of the wonderful opportunities for that in the area is a great idea. We know that involving caregivers in children’s summer reading pursuits is essential to maintaining reading skills and this partnership will accomplish just that,” said Chris Sagas, Executive Director of the Utica Public Library.


The Utica Zoo and NYPA will bring students together on July 16 for Story Time at the Zoo. Students will hear an adventurous tale about different animals in the zoo and NYPA specialists will be on hand to discuss the powerful history behind its energy. The fun will kick off at 10:30 a.m. in the Zoo Amphitheater. All attendees are encouraged to explore the Zoo and NYPA museum after the event.


“One of the greatest skills we can pass on to younger generations is the ability and passion to read!  Sharing stories of our past and present as well as the imagination of the future through reading, while alone or aloud together, brings a sense of community in a way that is unlike any other. The Utica Zoo is proud to be part of this initiative,” said Andria Heath, Director of the Utica Zoo.


On August 5, the Utica Comets are hosting a fun ESPN and Q&A style press conference with former professional hockey players to discuss fun and humorous tales of hockey and allow local youth to learn what it takes to make it on the ice. Afterwards, summer readers will skate with hockey players on Utica Comets’ mock skate rink outside of the Jervis Public Library in Rome.     

“I am very much looking forward to working alongside Assemblywoman Buttenschon on the Summer Reading Challenge,” said Comets President Robert Esche. “By connecting our local hockey leaders with our area’s youth, we hope to bring heightened awareness to our community and the amazing assets available as these children continue to learn and grow.”


Broadway Utica is taking youth behind the show on August 13 to learn more about the behind-the-scenes processes of Broadway shows and the art of playwriting. Youth will engage in an exclusive meeting with Executive Director Danielle Padula to discuss the power of playwrights and the local theater scene.


            “Broadway Theatre League of Utica is proud to be offering “The Art of Play Writing” to our youth in the local community. During these past several months of being on pause, we realized more than ever how important live theatre is to so many and the messages it portrays to the audience. This year we are dedicated to taking Broadway Utica beyond the stage and being even more immersed in our community. It is programs like this and the support of our great residents that will keep Broadway Utica alive for many more decades to come. The youth is our next generation of theater goers, performers, stagehands, volunteers and more! We are honored and thrilled to be a part of this amazing series of events this summer,” said Daniella Padula, Executive Director of Broadway Utica.

The Oneida County History Center will meet with students on the front lawn of the center on August 2 at 3 p.m. to explore the people, places and events that shaped Oneida County. Complete with festivities, the interactive event invites youth to learn about local history and document the journey with a selfie at historic sites, monuments and markers in Oneida County.

“The History Center is thrilled to be included in the Summer Reading Collaboration. We hope to spark an interest in life-long learning and invite students all ages to discover Oneida County history and the tales it has to tell,” said Rebecca McClain, Executive Director of the Oneida County Historical Center.

For the Good Inc. will bring stories behind music to life the week of August 16th as Cassandra Lockwood-Harris meets with youth to discuss the dynamics of music and its lyrics, as well as the history behind founding her radio station Utica Phoenix Radio, Inc. Youth will gather and listen to music demonstrations.

“When I was born in Washington, DC. Black people could not take books out of the public library. At one time in America, it was illegal for Black people to read. During the time of Slavery, a person could be whipped, or have their fingers and hands chopped off if it was found that they were learning to read. Reading is powerful. Reading literacy is such an important part of living a full life that it can’t be ignored,” Cassandra Harris-Lockwood, CEO For The Good, Inc. stated. “I am so grateful that my parents read to me as a little girl and made sure that I had plenty of books to read. I took plenty of books from the library over the years. Books took me all over the world while I was just sitting on my bed reading. Reading and learning that the famous Erie Canal began right here between Utica and Rome was exciting to discover. Then learning the famous song about the Canal was even better. Making music and reading books has always been a pleasure to me and I look forward to sharing the gift of music and reading to the children of our area. Thank you Assemblywoman Buttenschon for this opportunity to share.”

To view a video clip of the press conference please visit


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