South Orangetown Central School District

In recognition of Italian Heritage Month, TZHS World Language teachers Maria Bruno and Vittoria Conway and SOMS World Language teacher Christina Nilson hosted a variety of activities in their classes this week to celebrate Italian culture as part of their schools’ annual Italian Week tradition. 

 Students have engaged in lessons designed to build cultural awareness such as learning more about influential Italian and Italian-American cultural and historical figures, playing Scopa (a traditional card game), sampling cuisine and listening to music. 

“We try to teach culture not just with our words, but with our actions as well. It’s fun to share our culture and what makes us unique,” explained Bruno, whose parents immigrated from Italy. 

“We purposefully celebrate this week during Italian Heritage Month since it’s early in the school year and a great way to get our students engaged and excited about learning the language,” added Conway. 

 Ninth and tenth graders presented research to their classmates on famous Italian-Americans and their contributions to politics and culture. Upperclassmen focused on Italian historical figures, such as Leonardo da Vinci and Dante Alighieri, and were tasked with making mock Facebook profiles, complete with posts and ‘friend’ lists. 

SOMS and TZHS students made pizzelles–a crisp, waffle cookie–and learned about their origin and history. Bruno, Conway and Nilson shared personal stories about how they learned to make pizzelle with their families as children.

As eighth grader Jake D. made pizzelles, he spoke about learning Italian and participating in hands-on, cultural activities throughout the year. “I chose to take Italian because my whole family is Italian and they speak some, so I want to be able to communicate,” he said. “Projects like this are fun and remind you of the heritage and history.” 

In addition to Italian Week, members of the SOMS and TZGS Italian Club perform the tarantella at the Blauvelt Sons of Italy Italian Feast each fall–a much-anticipated tradition. 

Italian Heritage Week