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Italians have a strong belief in the value of higher education.  This was particularly true for Italian immigrants, who early on realized that to move out of the working class, they needed to ensure that their children received as much education as possible.  Education was viewed as an investment in the future.  In the 1950s, while the first generation and grown-up children coming from Italy worked long hours and even several jobs, their children were encouraged to study to join the professions-teaching, law, medicine, pharmacy.  The post-1950 immigrants are very proud of their first generation of professionals including justices Gary Cione and Sal Lovecchio in Calgary, and Peter Caffaro in Edmonton; general practitioner, Dr. Silvano Vecchio; teachers, Dr. Tony Caria, Tony Falcone, Rita and Rudy Vecchio, Mario Rizzuto;  and other professionals, Domenico Rossi (electrical engineer) and Adriana Albi Davies (academic and cultural administrator).

While wanting to function in Canadian society, community leaders did not want to forget the proud heritage of Italy, going back to classical times.  Italian language instruction was seen as a means of ensuring the survival of Italian culture.  In Edmonton, the Dante Alighieri Society has been a significant force in the promotion of the Italian language and culture. Founded in 1961 by community leaders led by Sab Roncucci, it initiated the first Italian language classes in the original Santa Maria Goretti Hall. Myra Butti was the First Director of the school and Tony Falcone was the first teacher. Classes were taught in the old Santa Maria Goretti Parish Hall.  In the first year, there were about a dozen students.  The next year they moved to Sacred Heart School, which provided free space and had two classes. The teachers, Tony Caria and Tony Falcone, were paid an honorarium of $2.50 per lesson.  They were later joined by Liana Meller and Tony Petrone. Principals have included Antonella Ciancibello, Reny Clericuzzio and Aristide Melchionna. The School has grown to become a significant force in the community offering language instruction to both teachers and adults. Saturday morning language instruction started later in Calgary.  According to Antonella Fanella, the Italian Saturday School was set up in Calgary, n 1974, with federal grant funding.   The Calgary Saturday language school is now managed by the Centro Linguistico e Culturale Italiano Calgary [Calgary Italian Linguistic and Cultural Centre] under President Domenico Rossi.

It is through these seeds, that, ultimately, Italian became a part of the program of studies for the Alberta curriculum. Parents, such as Lina Urso in Edmonton, lobbyed for an Italian language program. In 1971, Tony Falcone and Tony Caria got materials from the Government of Ontario and Tony Caria introduced Italian at the grade 7 level at Sacred Heart School and also used some of the Dante materials. In 1973, Mr. Caria introduced the course at Archbishop O'Leary and, in 1974, Tony Petrone introduced it at St. Joseph's High School.  In 1975, Carmelo Rago succeed Tony Caria at Sacred Heart.   In 1976, Manuel DaCosta, who was working for the Secretary of State got them a $7,500 grant to create a workbook with Tony Caria serving as the course administrator and Tony Falcone as the language teacher. In 1982, a proposal was sent to the Edmonton Catholic School Board to move the program from "a system-based option to a provincially recognized core language option." Tony Falcone and Tony Caria were then given 15 days off work to work on the curriculum, which was piloted in 1983. Edmonton Catholic then sold the curriculum to Calgary Catholic. A province-wide committee was created by Alberta Education and a provincially-accepted program was created in 1994, based on the original curriculum. In 1997, the Department of Education assigned the revision to Calgary teachers. 


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