The children performed various songs, a comedy skit and a play entitled “Il Lupo e i Setti Capretti”, or “The Wolf and the Seven Goats”, and several songs such as “Palloncino Blu,” “Il Lupo Mangiafrutta” and a very famous, yet challenging song “Let it Go” from the very loved Disney movie Frozen, all sung in perfect Italian by the children. The audience was also entertained with a very funny comedy skit performed by after-school students, ranging from ages 6-10 years old.
The Stelle Marine program is an Italian learning program for kids ages 6-10, most of which started learning Italian with Celentano as infants and toddlers. Once they graduated the Italian preschool program, they were still eager to continue learning Italian, so Celentano created a level one and two after school program two days a week.
At these levels, the Stelle Marine students learn to read, write and converse in Italian. The jokes and short comedy skit they performed at the celebration were an example of what they learned this past year. The audience watched first hand as the students of the Stelle Marine program conversed in fluent Italian with their fellow students in their program.
“The night was full of surprises,” says director of the Center, Catiana Celentano, who started the Let’s Play in Italian program eight years ago. “Some of our quieter students really came out of their shells and sang their hearts out as soon as the curtain opened. It’s amazing to see children ages 3-10 years old sing in fluent Italian in front of a crowd of over 300 people.” Celentano continued, “I admire their courage; it’s one thing to get a child to perform on stage in English, but conquering it in another language is absolutely magnificent in my eyes.
Our programs have made such a positive impact on our students and community I couldn’t be more proud of their performances. Every year the performances get better. I’m looking forward to next year,” Celentano continued.
Let’s Play in Italian started in 2006 when Celentano was determined to share her passion for the rich culture, history and language of her family’s native country of Italy. She felt compelled to share it with fellow Italian-Americans and anyone who was interested in learning about the language and the culture because it seemed to be fading among her generation.
It all started with Mommy & Me classes that sparked an interest throughout New Jersey, prompting sessions to become available in Scotch Plains and Nutley. It was that initial interest that grew into a completely new idea for Celentano: a school that would teach Italian to the group of babies that, in time, became toddlers.
The Mommy and Me classes teach the children the language through song and play. In 2008, the non-profit organization, the Italian Language and Enrichment Center (LEC), located in Scotch Plans, was created as a preschool and enrichment program along with after school and adult classes, which provide lessons to children ranging from age 2½ through 5.
The LEC has grown remarkably since its founding and is honored with a special day bestowed upon it by the town of Scotch Plains: June 1 is Italian Language and Enrichment Center Day.
For more information about the Let’s Play in Italian visit www.letsplayinitalian.com or call 908-322-5439.