North Adams elementary students say 'ciao' to Italian sister city


Photo Gallery | North Adams students celebrate Italian Sister City Tremosine

NORTH ADAMS — For the past 16 weeks, words like "ciao," "scuola" and "gelato" have been on the minds and tongues of a group of North Adams elementary school students.

This fall, the 21st Century After School Program, which includes students from Brayton, Colgrove Park and Greylock elementary schools, offered a course to immerse kids into the history and heritage of their sister city, Tremosine, Italy.

Pronounced "tre-moh-sin-ay," the two municipalities officially established a bond in 2005, according to Edward "Ed" Morandi, a member of the North Adams Sister City Committee. Tremosine is a collective of 18 villages located in the northern province of Brescia.

As part of the after school program, North Adams children exchanged letters and handmade gifts with students at the Scuola Primaria Luciano Turri.

In one letter, the Italian students (grades 4 through 7) wrote that their region is located "in the heart of the Upper Garda Park, where highest mountains reflect in the blue water of Garda Lake." Tremosine has a population of approximately 2,000 people.

Morandi said immigrants from Tremosine settled in North Adams after coming to work in the Hoosac Tunnel and on other churches and municipal buildings.

"My grandmother and grandfather are from there. [Brayton] Principal John Franzoni's grandparents are from there, and our North Adams Police Director Mike Cozzaglio has relatives there," Morandi said.

This past Thursday, the students helped program coordinators Joyce Fruscio, a Title I teacher, and Marcia Ann Farinon, a retired 54-year-veteran educator for the district, prepare a celebratory spaghetti dinner and showcase what they've learned about Tremosine and Italy. Guests included Morandi, Franzoni, Cozzaglio, Mayor Richard Alcombright, Ricco Fruscio of the North Adams Chamber of Commerce, as well as other community members. Al Bedini of Florida was on hand to serenade all with traditional tunes on accordion and keyboard piano.

"This is great," said Cozzaglio of the program. "Northern Italy is near and dear to me. Plus I think it's good to immerse these kids in learning about other countries. It shows them there are a lot of good parts in the world."

The majority of students said the best part of the program was eating. They made pizza; sampled sweets like gelato, biscotti, amaretto and pizzelle cookies in addition to making pasta. "We're Italians, of course we eat! Mangia, mangia," said Joyce Fruscio, before leading a grape juice toast at the dinner.

Vincent Miksic, a second-grader from the Colgrove school said he liked eating and learning new words. "I like how we got to write notes to Italy," he said.

The students created journals detailing similarities and differences between the two cities. North Adams may not have kite surfing and olive trees, but both places have lakes and waterfalls, music and restaurants."

Said Meghan Mongeon, a Colgrove third-grader, "I liked to see the how colorful our sister city is."


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