Celebrating Italian American heritage – The Arlington …

Posted By on December 26, 2021

Italian American Heritage month wrapped up at the end of October, but for members of the Italian-American Club at Bishop OConnell High School in Arlington, the celebration of Italian culture goes year-round. The clubs dedicated moderator and school counselor, Daniel Stabile, helped students get the club off the ground 11 years ago.

The impetus that led to initiating the Italian-American Club was to focus on all of the contributions, legacy and leadership that the Italian American community has provided for over 150 years in our country, said Stabile.

The clubs hope this year is to do just that.During October, students collaborated with Stabile to decorate a display case in the main corridor that commemorated the influence of numerous Italian Americans including Constantine Brumidi, the painter of the Capitol buildings rotunda; Mother Cabrini, founder of Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus; and Philip Mazzei, a contributor to the Declaration of Independence. By showcasing these individuals and many like them, the club hopes to convey just how deeply Italian culture is rooted in American art, religion and politics. The display is just one of the many unique activities the club has organized this year.

The club is open to anyone interested in Italian culture and history. Members recently hosted an evening talk on Dante and the Divine Comedy in the school library with Francesco Ciabattoni, an Italian literature professor at Georgetown University in Washington. Club members, parents, students enrolled in OConnells Global Studies program and teachers attended the event. Ciabattoni discussed how Dante Alighieris political position and relationships in Florence, Italy, affected his writing.

It was interesting to hear a college level analysis of Dantes (comedy) and how it was influenced by Italian culture, said Eric Olsen, club officer and senior.

Earlier this year, members of the club watched Life is Beautiful, the 1997 film based on a true story following a Jewish Italian family during the Holocaust. After watching the movie, the club discussed how Roberto Benigni, the lead actor, contributed to the film with his comedic approach to acting, as well as the heartwarming lengths his character went to in order to shield his son from the realities of the concentration camp they were in.

The club has had a busy schedule this semester. Stabile and the club leaders attended the annual Columbus Day ceremony Oct. 11 at Union Station in Washington, where they presented a wreath. Several members of the club were accompanied by the school activities director, Andrea Kalochristianikas, at a recent discussion about music in 18th-century Naples, Italy, presented by Professor Anthony DelDonna from Georgetown University and Professor Guido Olivieri from the University of Texas-Austin.

What is next for the club? They are looking forward to visiting the Italian Embassy and attending Mass at Holy Rosary Church in Washington. La vita bella!

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