Prospect High students savor opportunities with Italian olive oil company

 
 
Updated 8/21/2016 9:12 AM
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  • Marco Morbioli of the Frantoi Redoro Olive Oil Company demonstrates how to pour olive oil for Prospect High School students while teaching them to sample for different tastes.

      Marco Morbioli of the Frantoi Redoro Olive Oil Company demonstrates how to pour olive oil for Prospect High School students while teaching them to sample for different tastes. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Prospect High School students Kristina Velcani, 17, and Abby Grott, 17, both of Mount Prospect, sample Redoro olive oil as part of their Advanced Placement Italian class.

      Prospect High School students Kristina Velcani, 17, and Abby Grott, 17, both of Mount Prospect, sample Redoro olive oil as part of their Advanced Placement Italian class. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

Abby Grott didn't know much about olive oil before last week.

Now the Prospect High School senior knows how to pour it, smell it and taste it. And Abby will know even more next spring, after she and her classmates travel to Northern Italy to see firsthand how it's made.

Frantoi Redoro Olive Oil Company in Grezzana, Italy, is making a $100,000 commitment to Prospect's Advanced Placement Italian class over the next three years to fund international internships and opportunities for students to be fully immersed in Italian culture.

Prospect's connection to Redoro was made when teacher Lyn Scolaro met the company's owners during a student exchange trip to Verona, Italy. Representatives from Redoro flew to Chicago this summer and spent time at Prospect last week to give Scolaro's students a brief history of their product and teach them how to taste it like a pro.

"I have always believed in teaching Italian in ways that make sense to students and that are applicable to them whether they are of Italian descent or 'Italian by choice,'" said Scolaro, who has been organizing the school's exchange trips for 10 years. "It's important to teach Italian as a way of life and not through only grammar and vocabulary."

The 14 students in Scolaro's class will apply their new knowledge and experiences to their chosen career paths in hands-on ways. For example, senior Grace Godby wants to pursue science after high school, so as part of her AP Italian coursework she will study the environmental impact of making olive oil and the low output of pollution from Redoro's plants.

"I think this is such a cool opportunity," she said.

Grott, who is interested in social media and marketing, created a news release about the Redoro scholarship program and will run the class' Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts to update their progress during the year, as well as on their trip to Italy next year.

"We are learning not only the language, but the culture behind it. This is getting us closer to Italy even though we are here," she said. "It makes me comfortable with a real-life experience in multiple languages."

Other students will study the health benefits of cooking with olive oil for a culinary or health sciences career path, or how to sell and market the product for a business and economics perspective.

At the end of the class, students will present their final research projects to a panel of professionals in both Italian and English. The three judged best will receive $1,000 college scholarships from Redoro.

The collaboration is one way Northwest Suburban High School District 214 is encouraging its new Redefining Ready campaign to promote college and career readiness in ways beyond standardized testing.

"I believe it's crucial for students to understand their place in a global society while in high school -- using their critical thinking skills to form opinions and goals for life," Scolaro said.

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