Kiara Rosas (Spanish, Italian)
Noam Chomsky once said, “A language is not just words. It’s a culture, a tradition, a unification of a community, a whole history that creates what a community is. It is all embodied in a language.” Having the opportunity and privilege to do not only the Spanish Seal of Biliteracy but also the Italian Seal Biliteracy is a great honor and accomplishment. As a junior, I have been taking Italian since my first year of high school. With amazing help from my teacher, my pronunciation and vocabulary have greatly improved. Learning about the language and culture of Italy has been a very enjoyable and rewarding experience. The Italian Seal of Biliteracy encouraged me to research and dive deeper into the Italian culture, finding the origins and history of an Italian dish. It was a beautiful project that I will never forget. For the Spanish Seal of Biliteracy, I am currently researching an incredible Hispanic woman. This research has really encouraged me as a young Latina. As a native Spanish speaker, I feel great joy learning about countries all over Latin America and the diversity of cultures. Learning more about these two languages and the cultures that represent them can be challenging at times, but the knowledge gained is even more valuable.
Jasmine Suin (Italian)
The Seal of Biliteracy was both a great honor and opportunity for me as someone who is always trying to improve in Italian and further my understanding of the language. The project was intriguing and felt like a real life experience of using Italian. I found out more about italian culture/cuisine during my research which furthered my interest in the project and class. As someone who originally planned on taking Spanish my freshmen year, I am so happy I chose Italian. There have been many challenges but also achievements leading up to my junior year taking Italian and being a candidate for the "Seal of Biliteracy". It has pushed me to learn more Italian culture/language and not narrow my mind to only speak two languages. I am very happy about having chosen Italian and stuck with the class through my beginning struggles and now am able to speak in Italian as well as open myself to more learning opportunities with the language.
Lauren D'Abbraccio (Italian)
Being Italian and having grown up in their culture my whole life has shaped me into the woman I am today. When I was given the opportunity to complete the Seal of Biliteracy for Italian I was so honored to be able to share my story with others. I found this project interesting and exciting because of my passion for the language and Italy itself. The one thing I was taught as a young girl was that family, friends, culture, and food are the only things that are important in your life. In these past two years my dad and Nonna have passed away from different diseases. When I was able to pick one recipe to make and show to my class and my teachers, I chose struffoli. Struffoli is a recipe that has been passed down in my family for years. I just recently made this recipe with my Nonno right before Christmas. We used my Nonna's recipe and shared it with all our family and friends. I felt such a connection to my culture just with this one project. I am proud of all of my accomplishments throughout my years, but success in learning the Italian language has made me beyond grateful for my teachers. This project has shown me how valuable my culture is to me and to so many others.
(NAME OF STUDENT) (Italian)
Receiving my Seal of Biliteracy in Italian is one of my greatest accomplishments. Earning this great achievement took time, commitment, hard work, and continuous devotion to my studies. Every step of the way brought upon a new educational challenge that was foreign to me, yet exciting. I dedicated much of my time to studying what I learned in my Italian courses at Preston High School, and applying the language to my own life and personal experiences so as to truly grasp every bit of knowledge I had the opportunity to obtain. Prior to my three years as a Preston student, I had never studied the Italian language before. To say I was nervous to learn a new language with no prior knowledge is an understatement, but I was determined to focus on my studies and excel in my Italian class. Looking back, I am proud of the hard work I put in and for challenging myself to take advanced courses that allowed me to achieve my Seal of Biliteracy. I am grateful for the opportunity I was given and for my teacher, Ms. DeMaio, who always encouraged me to strive to do my best.
Aime Zelaya (Spanish, Italian)
The Seal of Biliteracy Project was a great opportunity for me, especially since I'm very interested in learning different languages. Freshman year I wanted to challenge myself and learn a language that I knew nothing about. Fast forward to Junior year and I've learned so much Italian. The Seal of Biliteracy was the perfect chance to demonstrate my knowledge and learn more about not only the language, but the culture as well. I researched different recipes and the origins of these meals. The final interview allowed me to practice my pronunciation. I'm also taking Spanish 4 since I'm a native speaker. I'm currently working on my Spanish Seal of Biliteracy Project and it is just as exciting. I'm researching different Hispanic women who have contributed to Spanish Society.
I am extremely grateful for the opportunities that the University of Albany and Preston High School have provided. For me, it is important to expand my knowledge and learn to communicate with people in different languages for my future career in medicine.
Linda Melendez (Spanish, Italian)
Being able to complete the Seal of Biliteracy for Italian was a great honor and opportunity for me. I found this project interesting and exciting. I thought that I would find it difficult but I ended up looking forward to working on and completing the next step each week. As an incoming freshman, I was questioned why I wanted to take Italian. I am Native Spanish and a lot of people told me to take Spanish for an easy grade. However, I wanted to challenge myself and at first, I struggled. During my high school years, I learned quickly and maintained high grades in my Italian courses. When I learned that I was eligible to do the Seal of Biliteracy for both Italian and Spanish, I felt very lucky. Knowing that my decision when I was a freshman was worth it became very rewarding. Currently, I am working on the Seal of Biliteracy for Spanish. At Preston, I will be the first graduate to receive two Seals of Biliteracy. I am very proud of myself for not listening to what others said and taking the challenge.
Samantha Forese (Italian)
Being of Italian descent and my love for everything Italian, I knew Italian was the language that I wanted to take when I entered Preston. The more I learned the language, the more I loved it. I was truly honored to have the opportunity to be able to complete the Seal of Biliteracy for Italian. The process to complete this achievement was challenging, rewarding, and a great opportunity. I am proud of my accomplishment of completing the Seal of Biliteracy for Italian.
Angelina Curran (Italian)
I enjoyed doing the Seal of Biliteracy project for my Italian class because it was an experience that helped me feel closer to my culture. I remember every holiday season watching and eventually helping my grandparents make castagnacci. Castagnacci is a pastry with a chestnut and chocolate filling. It is a tradition for my family to have it on Christmas Eve and my grandmother normally made it. However, since she passed two years ago, my mom and I have taken over with this special tradition.
Lauren Scerbo (Italian)
The opportunity to complete the Seal of Biliteracy for Italian was an outstanding experience for me to take part in. The Seal of Biliteracy was a very engaging and gripping project. I enjoyed cooking the recipe for my family and hearing their reviews. I am very fortunate to be able to complete the Seal of Biliteracy for my Italian 4/5 class. Thank You.
Skylar Powers (Italian)
The Seal of Biliteracy Project for Italian made me feel like it was an honor to be able to explore a new recipe I've never tried before. This project was so exciting because it allowed me to try something new. Not only did this Project teach me about new recipes from Italy, it also taught me some of the background information of Italy. This project was such a special project for me because even though i'm not Italian, some of my cousins are. My cousin Maria and I make italian cookies and although they're not the ones I made I feel that all Italian cookies will always leave a special memory for me. I felt that this project made me realize so much about the Italian culture and made me feel like I am Italian too.
Shania MC Walters (Italian)
I hope all is well, I am Shania. I wanted to tell you what the "Seal Of Biliteracy" means to me. As a student of Preston High School, I try to join clubs or take classes that bring me closer to my heritage. My Italian heritage was something I always wanted to learn more about, growing up in a predominantly Hispanic and African-American household.
Being able to take this class and skip a year of Italian, is truly one of my greatest accomplishments when I found out sophomore year. Now, being a junior and undergoing a stressful year with sports, a pandemic, school and family. This achievement eases the stress, it means that my work is amounting to something. The project was also something I enjoyed because I love to cook, and being able to explain my cooking and Italian heritage was very nice. Thank you for your time. Blessings to you and your family. Che Dio Sia Con Te!!
Alejandra Henao (Italian)
By completing the Italian Seal of Biliteracy I felt very honored to get to know more about Italy’s beautiful country and culture, and vocabulary that I didn't know before. In this project I found some similarities in a dish that I made to one of my native country’s recipes. I found this project very interesting and fun, to a point where I couldn't wait to keep completing each part of the project. I am glad that I completed this project and look forward to more projects like these where I can challenge myself and learn from it.
Kalia Noble (Italian)
"In Italian 4/5, it is so nice to see the opportunities we are able to receive. We were fortunate to be able to do the "Seal Of Biliteracy" Project which included following a recipe and making the dish and then writing about said recipe. As I am not Italian, it was great to learn about Italian cuisine and where it originated. I made pasta "al burro" and even though it is a simple recipe, it gave me insight to Italian culture. I particularly enjoyed learning the history of the origin because I find it very fascinating to learn about different cultures other than my own. I thank Ms. DeMaio and the University of Albany for giving us the opportunity to create an enjoyable project and learn about new experiences."
Star Moroch (Italian)
I enjoyed completing the Seal of Biliteracy Project. It gave me a chance to improve upon 3 things; cooking, the pronunciation of Italian words and editing skills. I liked making the cheesecake, and it was very interesting since I was able to talk about it in a different language. Putting the video together wasn't necessarily difficult, but putting the audio over my powerpoint and reevaluating my audio clips, as well as re-recording them sometimes, showed me that trial and error is necessary to success. The project allowed me to also connect to some of my roots. I'm Italian and as a tradition my mother usually makes cheesecake for my family during the holidays.
Elizabeth Kalaj (Italian)
I felt so lucky to be presented with a great opportunity to receive a Seal of Biliteracy in my Senior year of high school. Although I am of Albanian descent, I was raised in the predominantly Italian neighborhood of Morris Park and have always loved the culture which is why learning the language in high school, I found to be such a privilege. Having a seal to show all the growth I made in my class and in my knowledge of the language over the years, is pretty amazing. The process of getting this seal was rigorous but fair and interesting. I really enjoyed the Italian portion of planning and describing a trip there because it had real life scenarios that can actually be in our futures. While the English portion was a look into the past, it showed where Italian and American culture collided and how that led to now. Anyone presented with the opportunity, like I was, is extremely blessed.
Christina Paniccia (Italian)
Going into this process I was very nervous because I didn’t know how it was going to be and I thought it was going to be a difficult process that was just going to add on to my stress, but it actually wasn’t at all. With the help of my supporting teacher, Ms. DeMaio, I was able to complete each step of the process with ease and actually enjoyed it quite a lot. It was a lot of fun searching information and planning a trip to Italy because I have always wanted to go back and doing this project just made me want to go even more and actually visit the places I’ve mentioned in my project. Being able to complete the Seal of Biliteracy felt like such a great achievement and it means a lot to me because I feel so proud of myself for accomplishing something so great that incorporates my culture and helps me learn more about the Italian language and culture that I grew up around my whole life. I’m so glad and thankful that I was given this opportunity and that I was able to complete my Seal of Biliteracy helping me grow closer to the Italian culture as a whole.
Isabella Cioffi (Italian)
It has been an honor being one of the first candidates for the Seal of Biliteracy. I was so excited about this opportunity when Ms. DeMaio first told me about it because I want to continue my studies of Italian in college and this will only help my process. I really enjoyed completing these projects because it allowed me to reflect and share my experiences studying abroad in Italy and continue to learn more and more about my culture.
Gjoana Pale Gjoni (Italian)
When given the chance to complete the "Seal of Biliteracy”, I was thankful for the opportunity given to me. When beginning the “Seal of Biliteracy” I was a bit startled by the complexity of the project. As I continued writing I saw it as an opportunity to explore Italian culture. As an incoming freshman, I was fluent in English and Albanian. I wasn’t interested in learning a third language. My Italian teacher, Ms.DeMaio, helped me understand the importance of learning Italian culture and literature. When I graduate from Preston High School I will reflect on my journey in Italian class with the “Seal of Biliteracy”. Today, I see my accomplishments as a motivation for me to continue working hard.
Christina Apuzzo (Italian)
The Seal of Biliteracy project for Italian was very interesting and fun to do. Being able to cook any type of Italian food was very fun. This was a great opportunity for me to express my skills and what I have learned throughout my Italian classes. For me at first, Italian was very hard because I never took a language throughout middle school and was not very familiar with Italian. I was soon able to pick up the material and keep a high grade for Italian throughout my years at Preston. This project challenged me into testing my Italian skills and what I learned from Italian throughout the years. I think the Seal of Biliteracy project was a great and exciting opportunity for me. I am proud that I worked hard and was able to complete the project.
Beulah Ackah (Italian)
Completing the Seal of Biliteracy Project was truly a fantastic opportunity to experience the cuisine of Italy. Not only was the Seal of Biliteracy exciting, it was interesting and rewarding. A project that I initially thought would be tedious and challenging rather became an enjoyable learning experience. Because of this project, I learned about the origin of the Aglio e Olio dish, how to prepare it, and was able to experience a new, delicious taste. Since Freshman year, I knew Italian would be a great language to take in high school. While maintaining good grades and the Italian language, I've also come to appreciate Italy and all its different aspects. I'm truly glad that I took Italian and had the opportunity to participate in this project. I am proud of what I, and my fellow peers, have learned and accomplished in our class and through completing the Seal of Biliteracy Project.
Annabel Savarese (Italian)
Completing the Seal of Biliteracy was a great opportunity and experience. The project seemed intimidating, but it was an enjoyable experience that not only allowed me to work on what I have learned in the course, but it gave me the chance to relate my work to my family. Through the project, I got the opportunity to recreate a recipe my family has been making and eating together for years, and it was so exciting being able to write about and present on a topic I cared a lot about. Taking Italian was a chance for me to learn a new language and get more in touch with a part of my ancestry I only knew so much about. Overall, it has been an extremely rewarding experience.
Genesis Pinto Ramirez (Spanish, Italian)
When I first found out that I would be in the program to earn the "Seal of Biliteracy", I thought it would be difficult. After continuing work with the Italian class, I learned that the "Seal of Biliteracy" was a great opportunity. I am a Native Spanish speaker so at first I wanted to take Spanish. But when I saw Italian was an option, I decided to give it a try and see what would happen. Italian is a great class and I learned quite quickly, since the language is similar to Spanish. Being in the Seal of Biliteracy Program helped me so much and is such a benefit to me. i hope to continue doing well in both Italian and Spanish and be proud of my achievements.
Adelina Makovic (Italian)
It was a rewarding experience to be able to complete the Seal of Biliteracy in Italian. A project that I initially thought would be challenging, turned out to be a lot of fun. Not only did I learn how to make a popular Italian dish, but I also got to explore more about its origin. Italian is a language I have been fascinated with from a very young age. I knew that it was the language I wanted to take in high school. Since freshman year, I have enjoyed Italian class and have always had good grades in it. I am proud of all that my peers and I have accomplished.
Angelica Munoz (Spanish, Italian)
The Seal of Biliteracy was more of an experience than a project. Learning about a culture that was at first was foreign to me was very interesting. Being a Native Spanish speaker, it was quite easy to learn Italian because of the similarities between both languages. I was questioned why I took a different language when my primary one was Spanish, but I attended Preston for a different opportunity. The Seal of Biliteracy was like a gateway to more than just learning the language, but learning the culture in itself. I personally enjoyed the project because it opened a gateway to Italian cuisine. I am enrolled in both Native Spanish Speakers and Italian, and am looking forward to accomplishing new things.
Gianna Zillitto (Italian)
Having the opportunity to qualify for the Seal of Biliteracy is something that I will always be able to look at as a great accomplishment!
Coming into Preston High School as a Freshman, I was very excited to be taking it as a language course especially since I am part Italian. In the beginning, I was worried that I would have some difficulties learning the language because my family does not speak it. However, after all my hard work and help from my teacher, Ms. DeMaio, I was able to accomplish many things within this course. I was able to maintain high grades which allowed for me to skip Italian III and go straight into Italian IV & V which I completed as a Junior and very soon be able to have completed Italian VI as a current Senior. Being a student at Preston High School and being given this opportunity to earn the Seal of Biliteracy came as a great honor. My family is extremely proud of my accomplishments throughout my high school education and I am very happy to see that all of my hard work really does get noticed!
Kayla Zollbrecht (Italian)
When I learned that I would be eligible for the Seal of Biliteracy, I was very excited. This achievement proved that all of the hard work I put into learning a new language over my high school career was worth it. I come from a very large family of Italian speakers. My grandparents immigrated to America from Italy over fifty years ago, and have made sure to keep us in touch with our family in Italy. As amazing as it has been to be able to visit my relatives and cousins, it has always been very difficult to communicate with each other. However, last summer on my trip to Italy, I realized just how important the last few years of Italian classes have been. I was able to understand and speak to my family more than ever before, and I was even able to make so many new friends in our small town of Colle Sannita in Benevento, Italy. Having the ability to communicate and build a stronger relationship with my family and new friends, is truly what receiving the Seal of Biliteracy means to me.
Gianna Matranga (Italian)
The Italian Seal of Biliteracy is an accomplishment I am very proud to achieve. I have been taking Italian classes at Preston since freshman year and have truly enjoyed learning more about my nationality. The assignments we completed have taken time and concentration. I learned not only about my language but also the culture of my ancestors. I am very proud to have worked with my fellow classmates on this goal and am excited to put my knowledge into use in the future. I am very thankful for my teacher Ms. DeMaio for guiding her students throughout this accomplishment and ensuring success in her teaching. The Italian 6 class from Preston has experienced a great year in our learning and we are very proud to have completed the Seal of Biliteracy together.
Analisa Matranga (Italian)
I am very happy and proud to have had the opportunity to complete the Seal of Biliteracy for Italian this year in Preston. I have been learning Italian since my freshman year, so achieving this was a great honor and milestone for me that has made my past years worth it. My class and I have all worked very hard together while learning Italian in the past years of high school. I feel very proud of my class and lucky that we were able to achieve this goal together. There were many different tasks that went into gaining the Seal of Biliteracy, and it was a challenge that took hard work and dedication. The projects and assignments we completed were very interesting and exciting to me. I am very happy to be a candidate for the "Seal of Biliteracy" this year.
Emily Ljuljdjurovic (Albanian & Italian)
Completing the Seal of Biliteracy, means a lot to me because I became more informed on how our country came to be. Starting my high school career, I chose to take Italian. I was influenced by my two older sisters who also had taken it. They always talked about the class and how enjoyable it was. Taking Italian was a choice I'm very content with, since it soon became to be one of my favorite classes. I feel very successful about my accomplishments in being able to take Italian all four years of my high school experience because it gave me the opportunity to explore new cultures and learn a new language.