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Every year C.A.S.IT (Centro Attività Scholastiche Italiane), the organization that supports Italian instructions at our elementary schools, sponsors a contest for Italian students from second grade to Italian AP in conjunction with the committee of October Italian Heritage Month. This year, the contest asked that students write and illustrate a children’s book. At the elementary level it would be completed as a class project while middle school and high school students had the option of working on their own or in groups of up to four students. Each level had specific criteria about the project, naturally requiring more from the more advanced levels.

Ms. Stephanie Ogonowski’s second grade class at the Columbus Elementary School won first prize in their category with a monetary award of $150. The Italian teacher at the Columbus is Ms. Adele Scaramuzzo. The students created a story book using the words and phrases that they learned in their Italian class. Not only were they creative with their story, but their illustrations were outstanding. The children brought to life a lovable cat and the moon. In the story, the cat and moon become best friends.

Three students of Ms. Monica Canetta’s Italian II class at the High School won first and second prizes in their category. Connor Smith and Adam Dunn won first prize and received a monetary award of $200, while Lauren Brown won second prize with a monetary award of $100. Connor and Adam books were titled La Rosa della Vita e della Morte (The Rose of Life and Death) and tells the story of Ennio, the brave hero who climbs a mountain to obtain the rose that has the power to make the Earth eternal. The title of Lauren Brown’s book was Perchè i Koala dormono molto (Why Koala Bears Sleep so Much).

In the highest category, Gislaine Braga, a senior, AP Italian student in Mrs. DiCarlo’s class, won second prize with a monetary award of $150. Gislaine created a beautifully illustrated electronic book, Il ragazzo che gridava “Lupo” (The Boy Who Cried “Wolf”), based on the popular story with a personal twist.

C.A.S.IT. presented the awards to contest winners from the Boston area at the Giorno della Repubblica Celebration, organized by COMITES and the Federazione Associazioni Italiane e Italo-Americane of New England. La Festa della Repubblica, which is celebrated in Italy on June 2, is the equivalent of our Fourth of July. This year, the holiday marked the 70th anniversary of Italy as a republic. After World War II, on June 2 and 3 of 1946 there was a referendum in Italy where Italians were asked to decide on what form of government they wanted – monarchy or republic. The vote was republic and it was the first time Italian women were allowed to vote!

Last weekend, the winners were presented with their awards at La Festa della Republica at Filippo Restaurant in the North End of Boston. Representing Medford at the Boston celebration were winning students Connor Smith, Adam Dunn, Lauren Brown, and Gislaine Braga and their families. Also in attendance included Italian teachers: Adele Scaramuzzo, and Monica Canetta, Rita DiCarlo, Foreign Language Director, K-12; School Committee Member Ann Marie Cugno; and Superintendent of Schools Roy Belson.

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