Representatives from three local organizations made donations to support the continuation of Saddle Brook's nascent Italian Studies program at Wednesday's board of education meeting.
The Coccia Foundation, Saddle Brook's Unico chapter and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3484 gave a combined $8,000 to the district's Italian program, which started last year in grades kindergarten through six.
"We wouldn’t have been able to support the teacher’s salary without the wonderful funds that we’ve gotten from these wonderful organizations," Superintendent Kathryn Fedina said, thanking the organizations for their generosity.
The Italian classes, which reach approximately 900 students at the elementary level, are taught by Annamaria Di Modugno and have thus far received rave reviews.
“I’ve not heard one negative thing about it," Saddle Brook Unico president Joseph Nasello said. "It’s all plusses - from the parents, the kids and the grandparents.”
Fedina said the program got off the ground last year after she was approached by the Coccia Foundation, a local non-profit that supports cultural and educational opportunities for the Italian-American community, about starting an Italian program.
The district's elementary grades, which had previously lost their language program to budget cuts, seemed like the perfect place to launch the new Italian Studies program, Fedina said.
Continued budget constraints will likely keep Italian from expanding into the middle or high school, however, Fedina said.
Currently, middle school students can take only Spanish, and high schoolers can take Spanish, Latin or an online program in any number of other languages.