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Learning about the arts at Westhampton Beach PAC

Credit: Kidsday illustration / Katherine Ralph

I love the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center (PAC). It is a wonderful place where kids and adults can express who they are.

I read about PAC on its website (whbpac.com) and found out it has been in Westhampton Beach for three generations. The founder of the PAC was Alfred E. Smith. The original purpose of the PAC was to be a movie theater, but it did not make enough money.

In 1996 a group of people had the intention to buy the demolished movie theater. The contractor, Roger Stevens, installed a new stage, orchestra pit and seating arrangements. The renovation started in November 1997. The community helped a lot with fundraising. Nearly half the renovation funds came from residents and business owners. On July 4, 1998, the PAC opened its doors to the public. The year-round program includes world-class performers. 

I talked to Julienne Penza-Boone, the director of arts education. She has been working at the PAC for 10 years. She usually works with kids and teens.She thinks kids exaggerate characters more. But Julienne is starting to work with adults more. She said the biggest show she has done at the PAC was the Holiday Spectacular. The Holiday Spectacular was a show with kids, teens and adults singing Christmas and Hanukkah carols on stage.

Julienne said she thinks that the arts are important for kids because they teach discipline and let people see from another person’s shoes.

Info: 76 Main St., Westhampton Beach 

Jennifer Kulesa-Kast’s fifth-grade class, Westhampton Beach Elementary School

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