A language-learning program for young people is setting up shop in a new location.
The Primavera Italian Language Program is expanding the locations it serves with a new after-school program at St. Frances de Chantal School scheduled to kick off on Monday, April 16.
This comes on the heels of another successful year for the annual fall program, with 12-weeks of language instruction and immersion at St. Benedict School where young people also learned about Italian culture from November 2017 to Saturday, March 10, said Loretta Zaino, program coordinator.
The new program at St. Frances will serve students specifically from Throggs Neck, with 30 spaces available and first preference given to students that attend the parish school, said Zaino.
Sr. Patricia Brito, St. Frances’ principal, said that she had been looking at ways to add a language program to her school’s curriculum as part of the regular school day, when an offer to fund an after-school program came from Senator Jeff Klein’s office, which the principal said she greatly appreciated.
“I want to keep the Italian culture alive and growing,” said Brito, who added that 15 young people, mostly in the fourth and fifth grades, had already signed up.
She explained that the school has a mixture of students of different ethnic backgrounds, including a good number of Italian-American students, and that pupils from all backgrounds are participating.
“For children to become familiar with a second language I think is something to develop early on,” said Brito, with learning about Italian culture and its art, music, food and style of dress also a major plus.
The cultural aspect enables children, Brito said, “to be sensitive to others and their differences.”
The program will begin at 3:30 p.m. to enable youngsters from nearby schools to get to St. Frances, she said.
While the St. Benedict’s location draws in youngsters from Morris Park, Country Club, Waterbury-LaSalle, and Throggs Neck, the program at St. Frances de Chantal focuses on youngsters from Throggs Neck, said Zaino.
“It is still the Primavera Program, but it is another venue,” said Zaino, adding that Primavera continues to bridge a gap at many elementary and middle schools that don’t have language programs of their own.
She said that statistics show that the aspects of the Italian language specifically can be a catalyst for students to perform well on the verbal section of the SAT.
“In everyday life, you don’t realize how much you use the Italian language,” said Zaino.
The fall Primavera program even included a field trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan, and the St. Benedict’s program was made possible through funding by Congressman Joe Crowley, Klein and Bronx Council of the Arts, said Zaino.
Klein’s Building Options and Opportunities for Students funded the St. Frances program, which should last eight weeks.
“I often hear from both parents and students the joy that they get out of attending these classes and taking part in the cultural immersion that is offered,” stated Klein. “I’m proud that this year we’ve been able to expand the program.”