Agood paisan helps rekindle Italian heritage

Jul 10, 2018 1019

BY: Kelly Heyboer

Victoria Gatopoulos is half Italian. Her great-grandparents immigrated from Italy. Her mother grew up in an Italian-American family in Brooklyn. Though Gatopoulos grew up in East Rutherford, in one of New Jersey’s most-Italian areas, the 17-year-old said she didn’t really feel that connected to her ethnicity.

Her great-grandparents and the stories of their home country were gone. Her family no longer spoke Italian. Her heritage was fading. So, Gatopoulos took three years of Italian in high school. She liked it so much she fought successfully last year to get enough names on a petition to convince her school to become one of the few high schools in the state to add a fourth year of the language class for seniors.

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