Italian Language and Culture Day at Montclair State: Time Travel—in Italiano!

Five trophy winning schools with judges and Organizing Committee.

The Italian Teachers Association of New Jersey (ITANJ) and the Coccia Institute for the Italian Experience in America at Montclair State University joined forces on March 26th for their seventh annual collaboration, Italian Language and Culture Day. This full day of performances showcased the hard work and creativity of middle school and high school students of Italian in a competition of original skits--performed exclusively in Italian--around this year's theme—time travel!    "Un viaggio nel tempo: ieri e domani” [A Journey in Time: Yesterday and Tomorrow] welcomed over 350 students from fifteen schools across the state for this unique all-day event, a signature program of the Coccia Institute (the 'academic arm' of Coccia Foundation) and ITANJ, under the leadership of President Catherine Vignale. 

After joining in resounding renditions of the Italian and American national albums, the students treated a grateful audience to scenes that featured historical figures come to life in contemporary settings (e.g., Dante, Meucci and Galileo) to slices of life in charming settings (The Fountain of Trevi, the Tower of Pisa, the San Remo Festival, Rome by night, Pompeii) to visits with ancestors as they searched for their Italian roots.  Offering their valued support were the dedicated members of the Organizing Committee, chaired by Grover Cleveland Middle School teacher Lisa Manfre': Italian teachers Silvana Berardo, Marisa Clatworthy, Marisa Margarucci, Vita Morales, Maria Papaleo and Catherine Vignale, and Coccia Institute Director Dr. Mary Ann Re. An enjoyable presentation on the benefits of MSU’s rich program of Italian language and culture studies was delivered by Prof.ssa Enza Antenos-Conforti, Dr. Re’s faculty co-organizer of the Coccia Institute’s signature fall program, Teaching Italian Symposium/Workshops, our professional development day for teachers of Italian of all levels.  Prof. Antenos-Conforti’s talk was supplemented by an enthusiastic overview of the many extracurricular activities available to MSU students of Italian, delivered by Amici Club President Cassandra Carollo. Emceeing this exuberant day of skits, traveling across time and continent, was Parsippany Hills High School teacher Vita Morales, reprising the role from Italian Language and Culture Day 2013.

Elisa Coccia (Coccia Foundation President) and Elda Coccia (Coccia Foundation Founder) offered their most enthusiastic congratulations to all the participating students, as well as their sincere thanks to our diligent panel of judges, who had been charged with the unenviable task of selecting the trophy-winning schools from among the 15 consistently creative and impressive contenders:  Dr. Andrea Baldi, Professor and Graduate Director of Italian, Rutgers University (New Brunswick);  Dott. Carlo Davoli, Dirigente Scolastico—Education Office Director, Consulate General of Italy in NY; Phyllis Ignozza, Director of The Language Institute (West Caldwell, NJ); Phyllis Pizzolato, President of the Foreign Language Educators of New Jersey (FLENJ) and Retired Supervisor of Instruction, Pascack Valley Regional High School District; Prof. Giuseppe Sorrentino, Adjunct Professor of Italian at Ramapo College of New Jersey; and  Gaetano Sollazzo ’13, a Fall 2013 Coccia-Inserra Italian Student Intern. 

In the middle school division, the Frelinghuysen students  jubilantly accepted the first place trophy for their delightful skit on “Antonio Meucci: Lo sviluppo delle telecomunicazioni”/Antonio Meucci: The Development of Telecommunications; while their impressive skit on “Mezzanotte a Roma” merited the students of Columbia High School the coveted first place position in the upper division. Bringing home the second and third place trophies were St. Peter’s Preparatory School and  Hawthorne High School with their award-winning interpretations of “Dante Alighieri visita St. Peter’s Prep” and “Un’invenzione speciale.’ 

Auguri a tutti gli studenti e ai loro insegnanti! Congratulations, students and teachers all!

To view photos from the event, visit our photo gallery.

Middle Schools & Teachers
Frelinghuysen Middle School:  Marcella Clatworthy, Toni Anne Corsi and Mauro Raguseo 
Grover Cleveland Middle School:  Lisa Manfre

High Schools & Teachers
Cliffside Park High School:  Milena Rizzuto
Columbia High School:  Enrica Funari and Felice Stadlinger
Elizabeth High School Upper Academy:  Guido Morsella
Ewing Township High School:  Lou Thomas
Hawthorne High School:  Marisa Margarucci
Holmdel High School:  Elizabeth Malolepszy
James Caldwell High School:  Giovanna Mangiola ’06
Old Bridge High School: Steven LaPeruta ’08
Paramus Catholic High School:  Laetitia Zicchinella
Parsippany High School:  Angela Minichiello
Parsippany Hills High School:  Vita Morales and Jaclyn Bevacqua
St. Peter’s Preparatory School:  Rosalie Romano
Timber Creek High School:  Alyssa Sciscio