News Release

Town of Hilton Head Island Logo

Town Hosts High School Students from Italy

July 8, 2022

The Town of Hilton Head Island hosted an entourage of high school students from the Verona region of Italy, at Town Hall on Thursday, July 7, giving them insight into local municipal operations, Island history and culture, and travel and tourism.

The 32 students, who are enrolled in dual diploma curriculum programs, are in the United States for a two-week visit as part of an international sister-city education program. The Italian American Club of Hilton Head Island organized the visit to the Island, which comes after two years of pandemic restricted international travel.

Mayor John McCann, who visited Verona, Italy, in 2019 to create a friendship pact with the city, welcomed the students. "During that visit, we talked about all the different ways we could continue bonding through business, culture, and tourism. We decided to focus on education first," he said. Having the students here is the result of those discussions, McCann said.

"You’re the building blocks of what we are doing here. You are our hope. Without young people believing in what we are doing, there is no hope," McCann told the students.

Assistant Town Manager Angie Stone gave an overview of Island history and Town government, explained various projects the Town is focusing on, and encouraged students to be involved in their communities. Bill Miles, the President of the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce, spoke about the importance of tourism to the Island and the region, and encouraged students to return to Hilton Head Island for summer internship opportunities.

The visit gives the students an opportunity to further understand American culture and tour southern American colleges and Hilton Head Island, organizers said. "The students will receive high school diplomas in both the U.S. and Italy. Many are interested in continuing their education at a university in the United States," said Bob LeFavi, a Dean for the University of South Carolina-Beaufort, where the students are staying.

"The objective of this trip is to see what life would be like outside of Italy," said Kay Scettro, one of two chaperones that accompanied the group of students. "I think this is the first of many trips we would like to organize. For us, it is a sign of stronger connections between Italy and the United States, and between Verona and Hilton Head Island."

Scettro, who is also the Chief Academic Counselor of the Mater Virtual Academy Dual Diploma Program, said the visit gives the students, who are heading into their senior year of high school, an opportunity to learn about universities and colleges they may consider attending in the future once they complete high school.

For Anita Piazzetta, a student from Milano, Italy, the trip expanded her awareness of other less populated cities and towns in the United States. "This gives me the opportunity to study in the United States, which is the aim of this whole experience. I’m grateful for being here and for having the opportunity to look at another part of the world," said Piazzetta, who has previously visited New York City and Boston.

Carolyn Grant, Communications Director