BAY RIDGE – With great enthusiasm the moving ground-breaking ceremony for the Educational, Cultural, and Community Center of Plato in Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge took place on Sunday afternoon, September 10.
The Greek School of Plato’s new school complex at 670 92nd Street in Bay Ridge will be a four-story structure, and one of the most modern, environmentally-friendly, and accessible school buildings in New York. The building will have an amphitheater, community hall, 15 classrooms, and will cost more than $5 million.
The Board of Directors has so far already gathered $2.5 million, the largest part of which was spent on the purchase of the land, the demolition of the existing two-story building, the elaboration of the architectural plans, and securing the required permits.
The President of the Board of Directors, Maria Abazis-Doukas, and the Vice-President and Chairman of the Building Commission, Spiros Geroulanos, speaking with The National Herald, pointed out that the ground-breaking ceremony is one of the top events in the 40-year history of the Greek School of Plato and at the same time the beginning of a titanic struggle to raise the $2.8 million shortfall to complete the project.
The aim of the Plato School Leadership is to complete the project by the summer of 2018 so that the new school year starts in the new school complex.
The Plato Cultural and Community Center, as Geroulanos pointed out, will be at the disposal of the large family of the Plato School and the greater Brooklyn community and will function as a beacon of education and culture.
It will be a place in which the principles and virtues of our race will be cultivated and perpetuated, including hospitality, philosophy, philanthropy, charity, noble competition, and excellence in the general sense of the term.
The ceremony was attended by students, teachers, parents, the board of the Plato School, the benefactors Haralambos Geroulanos and the Vice President of Investors Bank Paul Stathoulopoulos, the principal of the Hellenic Classical Charter School Christina Tettonis and the chairman of the School Committee Charles Capetanakis, the President of Kimisis tis Theotokou Brooklyn- John Haskopoulos, the chairman of the Cathedral of Saints Constantine and Helen Brooklyn Harry Paloumbis, John Vasilantonakis- co-owner of Corona Ready Mix, and the former President of the Pan-Messinian Federation Anastasios Kokaliaris.
The faces shone with joy after a two-year struggle to secure the permits that would allow them to build an extra floor apart from the main building.
Also happy to support the community were Senator Martin J. Golden, New York State Assemblymember Pamela Harris, Nicholas Chamberas- spokesman for New York State Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, Andrew Gounardes- Counsel at the Office of the Brooklyn Borough President, and New York City Council Member Vincent Gentile.
They all praised the dedication of the executives and members of the Plato School to the struggle for the dissemination of Greek education and their contribution to Brooklyn’s wider society, and noted that “the struggle that they have given in the last two years and its realization is continuation of the miracle that has been taking place for four decades in Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge.”
The blessing was performed by the presiding priest of the community of Kimisis tis Theotokou Brooklyn, Fr. Damaskinos Ganas, and Fr. Meletios Bougas, priest of the community of St. Nicholas and St. Marina Church of Brooklyn who congratulated the leadership and members of the Plato School.
Fr. Damaskinos Ganas pointed out that the executives and members of the school belong to the Kimisis community and welcomed both the Hellenic Classical Charter School and the Greek School of Plato, which originated from the Kimisis community.
Fr. Meletios Bougas said that the School had a good reputation and he had heard a great deal about it before he came to America. Then he referred to Agios Kosmas, Aetolos, who said, “you build schools and schools will open churches.”
The coordinator of the event was the attorney Kyriakos Tzanides, who was one of the first graduates of the School and who pointed out that today the alumni of the School hold the reins.
Tina Demetis stressed that her first contact with the Plato School was in 1986 when it was time for her first child to go to school.
Her late husband, Dr. Spiro Demetis, had been for many years president of the school board and was one of the pillars, who, she said, “laid a solid foundation for the school and today establish the new foundation, which will be a beacon of education and culture and a center for Brooklyn’s Greek-American community.
The show was stolen by second grader Vasiliki Christakou who spoke about her school and noted that she “is a Platonaki” herself.