Dr. Jane Wiggins and her nutrition office staff had lunch at Stevens Creek Elementary on Tuesday while the school celebrated National Foreign Language Week with an Italian lunch.
Aside from pizza, perhaps no food represents Italy to Americans more than spaghetti.
It seemed appropriate then that the Italian-born lunchroom manager of Stevens Creek Elementary School served the classic Italian pasta dish Tuesday to her pupils to celebrate Italy Day of National Foreign Language week.
"We had decorations. (The lunchroom staff) dressed up in Italian colors. We had spaghetti and Italian bread," said Rita McDonald, 47, who left Italy at the age of 18 after marrying a U.S. soldier and moving to America permanently in 1984.
"I was working in a pizzeria in Pisa (Italy), and he came to eat," McDonald, whose maiden name is Ghelli, said about her husband. "Either he didn't like the pizza or he liked it too much, because he took me away."
Tuesday was the sole day lunchroom workers made a special effort for National Foreign Language week. Still, Stevens Creek pupils learned about other cultures and languages, including Swahili on Monday, Vietnamese on Wednesday and Arabic on Thursday. Friday was a student holiday.
As part of foreign language week, Stevens Creek Elementary School celebrated with an Italian lunch. Because the lunchroom manager is Italian, the cafeteria was decorated in Italian colors and the lunchroom staff dressed in the country's colors and served Italian dishes.
"We made morning announcements in the foreign language for that day and then we would repeat it back in English," said Sandra Escalante-Smith, a Spanish-language teacher at Stevens Creek.
"We also taught students a few different words in the language and asked them to use them throughout the day," she said. "Jambo in Swahili means hello, so students were saying jambo to each other in the hallway all day on Monday."
Pupils also listened to music native to the country of the language they were studying during lunch and other trivia pertaining to the foreign land of that day, Escalante-Smith said.
Stevens Creek Elementary is the only elementary school in Columbia County with a foreign-language instruction program for its pupils, which made National Foreign Language Week more meaningful for the school, said Susan Hadden, the school's assistant principal.
"(Other schools) probably do talk about foreign languages through social studies classes, but it's probably more focused on here, because we teach Spanish," she said.
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