Nearly a decade had passed, but they still remembered their American friends.
And when it came time to decide what they wanted to do for their final year of high school, Italian twins Matteo and Tommaso Calviello knew: They wanted to graduate in America.
Specifically, in West Des Moines.
The high school seniors walked at Valley Stadium Sunday nearly 10 years after leaving the country as elementary schoolers.
Born and, mostly, raised in Milan, the Calviello twins lived in the United States briefly as children. They attended the district’s Crestview School of Inquiry in Clive from kindergarten through third grade after their father transferred the family to the United States temporarily for a management position with his company.
Even after nearly a decade, though, they remembered their childhood friends, field trips they took, and former teachers. The son of their host family for this school year was a close elementary school friend.
“It’s not an experience that you forget,” Tommaso said.
Returning to West Des Moines to graduate from high school brought them full circle, Tommaso said.
They were also excited to return to the district because of the activities school offers. In Italy, schools typically haven’t offered or don’t emphasize extracurriculars.
They’ve been particularly interested in swimming, participating with the school’s team and recreationally. They started swimming in America during elementary school, and never stopped. In Italy, their only option for swimming was with a private team.
At Valley, they’ve taken advantage of many opportunities, getting involved in the Community of Racial Equity Club, the Foreign Exchange Student Club and the Greenhouse Garden Club. The World Cultures Club was especially fun for Matteo, who enjoyed teaching students about his home country.
“We were able to contribute with showing a bit of Italy’s culture,” he said.
Though their parents are still in Italy, they were supportive of the twins’ choice to travel — especially since they were getting their high school diplomas at the same time.
“They helped us through the whole process,” Tommaso said.
After graduation, the twins will stay in the country and head to Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Indiana. Matteo plans to study computer science, and Tommaso is undecided.
They look forward to being immersed in campus culture — an uncommon scenario in Italy, where many students live at home while attending university, they said.
And while they will miss their family in Italy, they are excited to continue their journey in the United States. They’re grateful for the lessons they learned at Valley and the friends they made, and look forward to continuing to grow.
“I do realize it’s going to be hard, it’s going to be tough,” Tommaso said. “But you know, it’s exciting to learn new things, to travel around and to meet new people. That’s part of life.”