Superintendent Dr. Ed Melnick’s recommendation to drop Italian as a second language was passed at the North Shore Board of Education meeting, held at the North Shore Middle School on Thursday, Dec. 13.
The decision was made after long discussion and yearlong research on implementing Mandarin as a second language. Mandarin was found to the most spoken language in the world, according to the research, while Italian did not make any list.
Research included conversations with Dr. Marc Ferris, the North Shore Middle School principal; Albert Cousins, the North Shore High School principal; and lead World Language teachers, as well as the Tri-State Report, U.S. Department of Justice, Weber Reports and results produced by college admissions offices; a survey of neighboring schools and private schools. However, residents, parents and teachers of the district felt that this research was only statistically based, and did not encompass the true quality and benefit the Italian language provides for children that cannot be gauged by numbers.
Before the action was approved, the public held the floor for approximately two hours. Dozens of parents, teachers, and students explained their passionate reasons for wanting to keep Italian in the World Language program, and to pick a less popular language to phase out.
John Laruccia, a member of the Sons of Italy and a North Shore resident, shared statistics of his own, claiming that the Latin enrollment was less than one-third of the Italian enrollment this year. He also cited the U.S. Consensus when he told the board that 35 percent of North Shore residents are Italian-Americans: the largest ethnicity group in North Shore. Laruccia also noted that Great Neck offered Hebrew because of their large Jewish population, and North Shore should adopt that mentality.
Chairman Enrio Annichiarico, of the New York State Commission of Social Justice Order Sons of Italy in America, followed Laruccia. Annichiarico went as far to say that this elimination of the language when there is such a high demand could be considered an act of discrimination against Italian-Americans’ civil rights.
Students made up an unusually high percentage of the meeting to remind the board who would be directly affected by this decision. Vaughn Ester, senior of the North Shore High School, eloquently expressed his thoughts and even brought up valid points that were original to other public comments.
Ester stated, “We don’t just speak the language, we express ourselves through Italian… The most important part of the [Italian exchange program] trip was able to communicate with my host family.”
This sparked questions on how the board intended to keep the exchange program and send students to Italy without a proficiency in the language.
After the item was approved, the crowd became outraged with how quickly the decision was made. The audience members believed their voices were unheard, and some parents threatened to vote against the upcoming budget.
Board President Carolyn Genovesi was quick to explain that this decision was not taken lightly, and they have received numerous emails, letters and phone calls about the program. She explained how the board spent countless hours weighing out the options, and felt it would be best to support the superintendent’s recommendation.
The board members said they will work to find room in the budget to allow Italian to still be offered in the high school as a graduation requirement. The Italian language will not be completely phased out—there will be an Italian Culture Elective offered in the eighth grade and two electives offered at the high school level.
Parents still felt this minimal education of Italian was not sufficient, and left the meeting dissatisfied. More details on the new phase-in process are on the district’s website: www.northshore.k12.ny.us.
Saturday, 18 October 2014 00:00
If Heather Lehrman is not yet a familiar face to local pet owners, her name is likely to soon become a household name to dog lovers and families with young children, as her children’s book, Bullied at the Dog Park, was released this week. The book is based on a real-life incident with her own dog, Herbie, and fans will have a chance to meet her and Herbie at a book signing at Petco in Glen Cove on Saturday, Oct. 25.
“I wanted to help get the message out in my own way about the effects of bullying,” says Lehrman, a resident of Great Neck. “This book teaches children valuable lessons about treating all dogs (and people) with respect, and the importance of simple kindness.”
Friday, 17 October 2014 00:00
It was Dec. 31, 1999, the last day of the 20th century, and Florence Dolling was preparing an elaborate Thai dinner for a New Year’s Eve celebration in her home in Glen Cove when the phone rang. It was her doctor reporting that, “Yes, it was breast cancer.” She kept on cooking, attempting to retain as much normalcy as she could muster, knowing that, with the new millennium, there would certainly come change.
“I wore a red strapless bustier for the party because I thought I was saying goodbye to the ‘girls’,” she says. “My husband, my sense of humor, and my friends, helped me get through that night,” she recalls.
Thursday, 16 October 2014 00:00
On Tuesday, Oct. 7, the Glen Cove Finley Middle School opened their football season with a home game against Thompson Middle School. The game opened with the Glen Cove offense going on a nice drive, which saw quarterback Mike Vaughan score on a 30-yard touchdown run.
Thursday, 16 October 2014 00:00
Six North Shore High School athletes competed in the 2014 JCC Maccabi Games and led the New York Delegation to victory, winning gold. The students included Jacob Abramowitz, Brett Bennett, Drew Jacklin, Ben Lerner, Josh Mandell, and Ben Saltzman. The Maccabi Games is a week-long Olympic tournament for Jewish teenage athletes, ages 14-16 years old. It is held in numerous venues across the United States.
Bennett proudly said, “Competing in the Maccabi Games was a unique and thrilling experience for me. It not only was a highly competitive basketball tournament, but it also emphasized the importance of building strong values such as good sportsmanship, leadership, team unity, compassion and respect.
This, for me, was an experience of a lifetime!”