UNICO presents Italian-American history book to Cape

December 11, 2017

Maria Teresa Morrison, Delaware district governor of UNICO, presented Cape Henlopen High School Italian language teacher Cristina Christy with a copy of a textbook on Italian-American history titled "The Routledge History of Italian Americans" for her classroom. Routledge publishes a series of landmark books surveying some of the most important topics and themes in history today.

The members of UNICO Delaware District 1 donated this text to Cape Henlopen High School and its Italian classes to further help students understand the importance of immigrants to this country. Frank Canata, a past president of UNICO National, first broached the idea and has been tireless in bringing this project to fruition.

Since beginning the Italian program at CHHS in fall 2009, Christy has received many donations for her Italian students from Morrison. The first was in December 2009 when UNICO donated a classroom set of bilingual dictionaries to Christy. While today's students prefer using their iPads to look up words, Christy explains to them that online resources only look at words, not the context or meaning. She always encourages them to use the dictionaries.

In May 2015, Morrison presented a second donation of three copies of a book on recovered Italian art (one each to the Italian classroom, the art department and Cape's library). Morrison has personally delivered roughly 30 copies of the monthly Italian-American Herald newspaper to Christy every month. The newspapers are always timed perfectly, and highlight important Italian current events and cultural celebrations, with small grammar and vocab lessons for all types of learners. Christy said, "One of my favorite sections of the newspaper is the one where they list common Italian surnames, and go into detail as to the derivation of the name. I have been able to show my students where their last name comes from ... and my students like that! It makes it personal."

After 32 years, Morrison retired from teaching. Not long after, in 2006, Christy moved to Delaware. Up until then, Christy had taught middle school French and Spanish; Morrison had taught Spanish, French and Italian – so she knew firsthand the challenges of starting an Italian program. She has made it one of her priorities to support Christy, one of only a handful of highly qualified Italian-language teachers in Delaware.

Cape is unique in that it offers not only the most popular language, Spanish, but also French and Italian. Students can study any of these three languages for all four of their high school years. Each language goes from Level I to Honors 4.