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Laughs and liberty

9/11/2012

By JUDY SHERARD

By JUDY SHERARD

jsherard@dailynews.net

The electoral college and presidential succession aren't usual fodder for children's comedy.

But there were plenty of laughs Monday when Jay and Leslie Cady, who perform as Laughing Matters, presented "How Freedom Works" at O'Loughlin Elementary School.

The O'Loughlin performance was sponsored by the HAC, the O'Loughlin PTA and the Hays Area Chamber of Commerce 2012 Leadership Class.

"They developed a civics lesson that is entertaining and educational," said Brenda Meder, Hays Arts Council executive director.

Meder said the civics performance is timely because of the election.

"With this being the 45th anniversary of the Hays Arts Council, we wanted some really special experiences for our community this year, including our young people," Meder wrote in an email.

Some of the concepts "are things even grown-ups don't understand, (but if kids) see them acted out they can make sense of it," Jay Cady said.

The show included real, factual information that's entertaining and engaging, Meder said.

The "civics lesson" addresses four concepts -- how an idea becomes a law, branches of government, order of presidential succession and American history.

The program kicked off with the couple teaming up for some "patriotic juggling" to the 1812 Overture.

Though they sometimes call for audience volunteers, approximately 25 students rehearsed with the Cadys and participated in the segment about how a bill becomes a law.

"I am a very good idea, and I should be a law," Leslie Cady said as she played the role.

However, with the fifth-grade students acting as the Senate, House of Representatives and Supreme Court, it wasn't easy.

It took the addition of amendments for the "very good idea" to pass House and Senate votes.

"It's like I'm a Christmas tree, and you're adding ornaments," Leslie Cady said.

Even then the youngsters had to override a presidential veto for the "very good idea" to become law.

To teach about the electoral college, the Cadys used colorful images to represent the popular vote of a state and marbles to award electoral votes.

"It's winner take all," in the electoral college, Jay Cady said. "If you win the state, you get all the marbles."

"The point is you need the electoral votes to win the election," Leslie Cady said.

A rapid rendition of "Hail to the Chief" on kazoos and outrageous catastrophes, such as alien abduction, helped the youngsters learn about presidential succession.

"It isn't a break from learning," Meder said. "It is learning -- learning augmented."

* This week "Laughing Matters" will perform at all of the Hays USD 489 elementary schools and Holy Family Elementary School, Washington and St. Mary grade schools in Ellis, Plainville and Sacred Heart Grade Schools in Plainville and Simpson Elementary School in Russell.