High school students converse with Italian peers

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The Point Pleasant School District Board of Education introduced a $46 million budget for the 2021-2022 school year. [PHOTO BY THE OCEAN STAR]

POINT PLEASANT — World language students at Point Pleasant Borough High School got to engage with peers from Italy in a special Zoom conference Monday that featured dialogue, as well as presentations, between the Italian and American high school students about environmental problems facing the city of Venice.

The March 22 program, entitled “US-Italy Environmental Education Exchange: Venice in Peril” was organized and sponsored by The Silvio Laccetti Foundation of Fairview and the education office of the Italian Consulate in New York City. 

Students from Stacey Camilleri’s Italian 5 Honors classes, and a few from her Italian 4 Honors class, took part in the program, along with peers from the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, two Italian high school classes of Advanced English, as well as Lyndhurst High School and the education office of the Philadelphia Italian Consulate.

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“Mr. Laccetti had reached out to our guidance department some years ago and asked if we wanted to participate with his foundation as they were awarding something called the Garibaldi Award [given to graduating high school seniors of exceptional merit in Italian studies and in school/community activities] named after Giuseppe Garibaldi … an Italian freedom fighter,” Ms. Camilleri said.

“In my conversations with him this year regarding the award, he said he was thinking of expanding and his goal was to have students in Italy and students in the United States be able to talk to each other in real time.

“It was great because I have been teaching Italian for 22 years and we have never gone into that area. We have participated in other programs, which would be like pen pal programs … so now as a product of quarantine and having all of this technology we can use it for something like this, which is such a positive thing being able to have these students communicate and see each other in real time.”

The Zoom conference had several objectives and goals, according to a release from The Silvio Laccetti Foundation. Aside from a real time exchange of ideas and concerns about the environmental problems of Venice among American and Italian students, with a view to establishing permanent linkages and future expansion of involved schools, a special focus was placed on Venice, where Venetian students discussed the problems of the cruise ships destroying the canal system, the ecological implications of climate change on the Lagoon of Venice, the effects of mass tourism on the social and cultural interrelations in Venice and other topics.

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