The Howard Beach Columbus Day Foundation began the third year of its Italian Language Study Program last Saturday. The program launched in 2008 offers free classes for students in beginner and intermediate levels Conversational Italian.
But this year the program has now grown to include space for children, which organizers say was always a priority. “We always wanted to include children in the program, but wanted everything to be right for them,” said Foundation President Mario Faulisi, “and now after having had two successful years we can provide a wonderful opportunity for children to learn the Italian language as well as history and culture.”
This year the program will be headed up by educator Cav. Josephine A. Maietta, who serves as a member of the board of directors of the Italian Heritage and Culture Committee. Watching Maietta before a packed Saturday morning class of kids ages 6-10, her arms raised and swaying to the music of La Fata Italiana, the Italian Fairy, it is obvious that she is not the only one having a good time; a room full of kids, as young as 6, are dancing and singing right along with Maietta—singing in Italian that is.
She says it’s a great feeling knowing that she is part of keeping the Italian language going. “When the opportunity to work with the Foundation came along, I was glad to accept,” Maietta said, “and when you look around at a room like this, you know you’re on the way!” Maietta is joined by retired school principal Donato Quadagnoli, who is instructing adult classes at the school
The Italian Language Study program is housed at St. Helen’s School in Howard Beach and opened this year with 75 students in three classes for children and adults. The students range in age from 6 to 78. Foundation Treasurer Angelo Gurino says that next semester the Foundation hopes to offer a second level course for those students wishing to continue, in addition to having beginners classes.
Anyone wishing more information about upcoming registration can contact the Howard Beach Columbus Day Foundation at 718-641-3469.
By Patricia Adams