P.S. 112 in Bensonhurst, which in 2015 became the first in the city to have a dual language English-Italian program, celebrated Italian culture as students from the program mounted an art display at the Italian Consulate to mark iconic artist and designer Leonardo da Vinci’s birthday on April 15.
The dual language program had previously caught the attention of the consulate, representatives of which, during a visit to the school, had seen that students in classes from pre-kindergarten through first grade were recreating some of Da Vinci’s most notable achievements.
The art pieces included model helicopters, as well as tissue paper replicas and mosaics of the Mona Lisa. All of the dual language classes worked together to construct a robot using Da Vinci’s sketches of a mechanical knight from 1495 as a guide.
“It was wonderful to have the students see their work displayed, and the Italian Consul General and education director came out to talk to the students while we were there,” noted P.S. 112 Principal Louise Alfano.
According to the 2009-2013 American Community Survey, the percentage of Italian-speaking homes in Bensonhurst was among the highest among New York City neighborhoods. According to the 2010 Census, about 80 percent of households in the surrounding Dyker Heights and New Utrecht areas speak a language other than English at home.
Since 2015, the unique, federally-funded language program has taught pre-K through first-graders bilingual fluency. Students in the program are also developing an appreciation for Italian culture.
Class time is split — half is taught in Italian and the other half is taught in English. The program is “designed to develop students’ skills in listening, speaking, reading and writing in both English and Italian” in native and non-native children, according to the school’s website.
Even subjects in the program such as math, social studies and science are instructed in English with extension activities in Italian in order to build number sense, reasoning and practice in both languages.
Currently, the pre-kindergarten and kindergarten classes are learning Italian songs in preparation for their “step-up” graduation ceremonies on June 19 and June 20.
P.S. 112 is located at 7115 15th Avenue.