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Italian Classes Create Love Letters and Carnevale Masks

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Mia Herrera '19
28 February 2018 

February, and the love and vibrancy we celebrate during that month, has encouraged the Italian classes to make Carnevale masks and Valentine's Day love letters in two unique projects. Mrs. Monzo’s and Mrs. Napolitano’s classes have been hard at work during the busy month. Mrs. Napolitano’s Italian I and Accelerated Italian students have been making Valentine’s Day letters written in Italian. All Mrs. Monzo’s Italian III Honors students have been making Carnevale masks.

Click the following link to see more photos of the projects.Carnevale masks

Italian is one of the languages of love so it’s only appropriate to do something for Valentine’s Day. Napolitano’s classes are taught phrases of love and the specific way to write a love letter before modelling that lesson in the project.

Students pretended to write as a secret admirer to the object of their affections. They had to describe themselves and their love interest. They also had to use some of the love phrases (such as "I love you", "My love", and "Will you marry me") from the aforementioned lesson. After they wrote their letters, the students had to package the envelope in a creative and sentimental way.

Valentines Letter The students are also taught a cultural lesson about how the Italians celebrate Valentine’s Day. On Valentine’s Day in Italy, people often travel to Verona, visiting Julietta’s house (as the title character of Romeo and Juliet is called in Italy) and leave love letters at her door. Napolitano likes to assign the love letters to the Italian I students because she knows they read Romeo and Juliet in their English classes. “They get a cultural background of the tragedy from my class,” she explained. She had her Italian I classes and her 8th graders from the Accelerated Italian Class make the letters in what has become a tradition.

Throughout the years, students have really liked this project. Napolitano believes that if students enjoy the project, they are more likely to remember the material that they’re taught.  Mrs. Napolitano has noticed that when students return to Italian II, they are often able to recall the love phrases they learned the previous year. 

The Italian club also got into the spirit last month, making Carnevale treats. The members of the Italian Club made Chiacchiere di Carnevale, a traditional Italian treat for Mardi Gras. Mrs. Napolitano and Mrs. Monzo taught the club members how to make it and they ate the treats once they were done. 

Carnevale has been celebrated for centuries throughout Italy. The celebration is an opportunity to indulge and eat treats before the start of Lent, in which observers won't eat meat and other certain foods. 

Masks The Venice Carnevale is one of the biggest events in Italy; the famous masks make it unique from Italy's other famous Carnevale celebrations. The tradition of the masks started in the 13th century when Venetians would have celebrations and parties from the end of December until the start of Lent and wear elaborate masks to hide their identities. The parties were the only time the lower and upper classes mingled together, so the masks served as a device for hiding the wearer's identity and social status.

Italian Masks This year, all of Mrs. Monzo’s classes worked on some kind of mask for Carnevale. However, her Italian III Honors classes worked on a project a little more involved. Everyone brought a mask and got to decorate their masks however they liked. “I decided that my students could create something personal and make their own statement regarding this celebration,” Mrs. Monzo explained. She didn’t make her students follow the criteria of the Commedia dell’Arte. Many designs of Venetian masks originate from the Commedia dell’Arte. It's a form of theatre known for it's masked actors and improvised performances based on sketches or scenarios. 

This isn’t the first year Mrs. Monzo’s Italian classes had a project for Carnevale. In the years past, students worked on floats, masks, posters, and sketches inspired by Carnevale.  

Carnevale is celebrated differently all over the world, whether it's the Samba Contest in Brazil, the Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans, or the Carnevale of Venice.