Honor society pays tribute, bonds family

When I brought the pepperoni roll order form into work at my day job, folks didn’t seem to question it. They just checked the product offering and decided whether or not they were feeling pepperoni rolls that day.

Because, just like in most offices across America, there’s usually at least one (if not seven) order form for some random thing a coworker’s child is selling as a fundraiser posted on the bulletin board in the cafeteria or other common area.

So when I tacked mine up in the lunch room about a month ago, I got three kind takers right away. Only one of them questioned the club for which the money was being raised.

“The Italian National Honor Society. Is that really a thing?” my boss asked, only half joking.

“It actually is!” I laughed.

Who knew? Because I didn’t. And neither did a whole bunch of other folks, including my sister Gina, whose response was an immediate pledge to buy like, 187 pepperoni rolls. Did I mention she’s also Kyle’s godmother? Either way.

“So, he’s in the Italian Club. That’s awesome. I was in the Italian Club!” said she.

“No, it’s the Italian NHS,” I responded.

She was confused, having attended Kyle’s induction into the National Honors Society with me at the end of March. “Wait, what?” I said it thrice. The Italian NHS.

When I told my parents that Kyle was being inducted into said club, they were thrilled. “We’ll be there!” Mom said, she and Pop grinning.

My pop was born in Italy and moved to America when he was Kyle’s age, 17. He became a U.S. citizen shortly thereafter and seemed especially intrigued by the notion. “Isn’t that something? I didn’t even realize there WAS an Italian National Honor Society!” he said.

Again, nor did I. But let me tell you a little about it.

The Boardman High School chapter is named after Maria Montessori, who was the first woman to graduate from the University of Rome with a degree in medicine and eventually formed the internationally-acclaimed Montessori School, which encourages kids to choose their own coursework and study at their own pace.

This local chapter of the Italian NHS is the only one in the entire Buckeye state and was founded by Italian language teachers Maddalena Amero, Bernice Mazzella and Eleanor Sacco in 1997. Amero, Marianne Keifer and Liliana McElhaney advise and supervise the group whose candidates must have taken three years of Italian, have registered for a fourth and have consistently maintained a GPA of at least 3.5 all three years.

Last week when my parents, brother and I sat watching Kyle and more than a dozen other juniors being inducted into the group, my eyes brimmed over with tears.

Not only was my baby boy honoring our heritage on my father’s side of the family (the whole reason he took Italian was so that he could speak it with his grandfather), but here we sat, along with dozens of other beaming loved ones just soaking in the entire experience.

When the loudspeaker boomed the Italian National Anthem and my pop sang along… Well, I can’t really describe it accurately but it was one of the sweetest moments I’ve ever had.

Yet, it was totally eclipsed by the next few, seeing my son come running over to my mom, dad and brother, embracing them and showing them his official certificate of membership as he exchanged a few words in Italian with my pop.

“I’m so proud of you, Corrado,” my Pop said as we posed for photos.

Corrado is the Italian name Mrs. Amero gave Kyle his freshman year because, well, Kyle doesn’t really accurately translate into Italian. When he came home and told my parents, my father revealed that coincidentally, Corrado was his grandmother’s maiden name. Or maybe not so coincidentally. Hmm.

And when I saw the expression on Pop’s face as he smiled at his mini-me, aka, Kyle, my heart swelled fuller than my watery old eyes. Looks like I’m a member of our very own little Italian society. And I couldn’t be more honored.

Kimerer is a Tribune Chronicle columnist who speaks Italian but only un po. Contact her in English via www.patriciakimerer.com. Grazie!