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Rye Town Board Funds Student Sociology Course

PORT CHESTER, N.Y. -- Deborah Reisner stood before the Rye Town Board Tuesday evening to request funding for an extracurricular seminar that takes high school students from the town’s three school districts and asks them to research solutions to local issues.

“It encourages young people to participate in government, and equips them with the knowledge and tools to grapple with real-world problems,” said Reisner, one of the seminar’s sponsors and president of the League of Women Voters in Rye, Rye Brook and Port Chester.

The town board approved $7,654 for the seminar, which will come out of its youth programs fund. Another $8,000 dollars is being provided by Port Chester nonprofit Building Community Bridges , satisfying the seminar’s budget requirements.

"This is a minimal investment," said town deputy supervisor William Villanova. "It's going to benefit the students and make a difference."

This will be the third year the seminar has been held, which will begin in October. In past years, a group of roughly 25 students from Rye Neck, Blind Brook and Port Chester high schools were brought together and presented with a specific issue facing the Town of Rye, such as low voter turnout.

Over the course of several months, the group met every few weeks to brainstorm ways of conducting research, gathering information and formulating solutions, which were presented to the town board in April.

One of the key aspects of the seminar is bringing together students from different backgrounds to work together.

“Research shows the most creative problem solving comes from diverse groups,” said William Tobin, professor of social science research at Duke University, who adapted the seminar for high school students from one of his college courses.

Enrollment for the seminar begins in September. For more information about the program contact Deborah Reisner at or call 914-968-7166.

What do you think about this seminar? Do you feel young people are civically engaged?

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