NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – Lina Romeo was among the many residents out to enjoy the unusual summer-like weather in October at the City of New Rochelle’s Columbus Day Ceremony at Hudson Park Monday in honor of the great explorer.
“Every year it’s like tradition to come have the dedication to remember Christopher Columbus,” said Romeo. “It’s tradition for Italian people."
Romeo was accompanied by her three children, Jefferson fourth-grader Filo, Isaac E. Young seventh-grader Luca, and New Rochelle High School freshman Pasquale.
They and other attendees milled about in front of the Christopher Columbus statue at the foot of the park to the tunes of soloist Quirino Tolli before listening to remarks from city officials and representatives from the Italian social club, Casa Calabria.
New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson and Casa Calabria Trustee Pasquale Procopio then dedicated a wreath which they placed at the statue of Christopher Columbus. This was followed by the playing of the American and Italian national anthems.
Earlier in the day, more than 50 kindergarten-through-third-grade students, teachers and parents from Jefferson Elementary School’s dual-language Italian program, and other members of the community rode their float in New York City’s Columbus Day parade, along with dozens of other Italian cultural organizations and dignitaries.
"We hope this experience helps our students and community appreciate how unique and special dual-language programs can be for students,” said Elena Dilion, dual-language program supervisor for the City School District of New Rochelle.
"When students from different ethnicities and backgrounds come together to learn a second language and its culture, appreciation and respect for one’s own culture grows simultaneously. It produces acculturation; the crown of immigration – where the best of all cultures is placed at the service of society,” said Dillon.
The Italian CILA Dual-Language Program teaches children the regular academic curriculum in English and Italian. Children are taught by a native speaker of Italian to reinforce and accelerate the Italian language development, according to a school district press release. The kindergarten students start out being instructed 85 percent of the time in Italian and the remainder in English. Gradually they spend more time in English, and from second grade and up the children learn in English half of the time and Italian the other half of the instructional day.