ASTORIA – The St. Demetrios Astoria High School graduation ceremony took place on June 7 in the crowded Petros Patrides Cultural Center with the graduates promising to keep their knowledge and experiences from their school life as a treasured memory.
A total of 26 graduates dressed in their caps and gowns are taking the next step in their studies.
“Today we say goodbye to 26 students. But I think every end is a new beginning, if you choose it,” said Principal Anastasios Koularmanis.
Vice Principal, Eleni Karagiorgou, invited the graduates to never forget, in the course of their life, “the meaning of St. Demetrios School.”
Vasilis Kontodimas (Valedictorian), Evangelia Tsagaris (Salutatorian), Panagiota Hassan, Anna Maria Hasouras, Maria – SpiliianiKoutroupis, John Di Virgilio, Theodora Fragaki, Demetrios Georgoudis, Vasiliki Karkalis, Areti Koularmani, Demetrios Kouzounis, Alexandros Krambis, Sophia – Maria Krambis, Stavros Xinos, Panagiotis Letsios, Bartholomaios Moschos, Michalis Mouras, Irene Papadakis, Vasilis Roza, Maria Schinaki, Victoria Sfika, Daniela Soukinakoua, Angelos Tsambas, KaterinaTsambas, Irene Gerolymou, and Andriana Giora.
Among those present at the event were His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America, Consul General of Greece in New York Konstantinos Koutras, Consul of Greece Lana Zochiou, the St. Demetrios School Board Chairman Nick Andriotis, Dr. George Liakeas- President of the Hellenic Medical Society of New York, and Antonis H. Diamataris- The National Herald Publisher-Editor.
Father Anastasios, ’68 and St. Demetrios
The event began with a prayer led by presiding priest of St. Demetrios Cathedral Archimandrite Nektarios Papazafiropoulos, followed by the National Anthems of Greece and the USA, as well as songs by the Choir.
A special surprise for graduates was the presence of the Class of 1968, celebrating the 50th anniversary of their graduation. Among their distinguished members is Father Anastasios Pourakis, who serves the Parish of Saint Demetrios and is beloved in the community, especially to the younger generation.
“We were children of the 1960s, in really difficult times. We witnessed the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King. There was the scourge of drugs. Our faith, our parents and, of course, our school and our teachers have kept us together. Their work had roots and is still fruitful,” said Fr. Pourakis.
Then, the official spokesman of the Class of 1968, and the keynote speaker Anna Prokop, took the floor, noting that the Class of ’68 and Class of ’18, even though they are 50 years apart, share many elements, since “the values of Saint Demetrios remain the same.”
“Do not give up …”
Archbishop Demetrios, addressed the graduates with warm words and conveyed the greetings of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, and the Council of the Holy Cross in Boston.
“This step with your speeches, one after the other, creates a garden of speech with their content. You have received greatsupplies. Do not retreat,” the Archbishop told the graduates.
TheConsul General of Greece in New York Konstantinos Koutras, used a famous saying by Nikos Kazantzakis: “You have the paints, you have the brushes, paint paradise and enter it. Take life in your hands.”
The graduates of 2018 gave a special thank you presentation to School Board Chairman, Nick Andriotis, who received many bouquets from the graduates. “The words they spoke were true and from the depths of their hearts,” Andriotistold the National Herald.
“We are a family”
The graduates’ speeches were full of joy, but also tinged with a bit of melancholy for the end of their school career at St. Demetrios.
“You are unforgettable to me – you, my classmates, the teachers, the priests, Mr. Stasinos, Mrs. Karagiorgos, and especially Mr. Koularmanis. As for Mr. Kilimitzoglou, I thank him for teaching me from the first grade atSt. Demetrios Jamaica to this day,” said Valedictorian Vasilis Kontodimas, in his speech.
“Saint Demetrios School Astoria has given us countless knowledge and opportunities. It taught us our Greek language, history, culture, and religion. It taught us love and pride for our homeland and how to keep the roots alive,” said Salutatorian Evangelia Tsagaris.
About his classmates and teachers, the graduate Alexandros Krambissaid, “From my first day at St. Demetrios, it felt like family. Not only because I made a lot of friends, but also because I had the continuous support of a team of staff.”
President of the School Council, Anna Maria Hasouras, pointed out that her feelings are mixed.
“What we can do is maintain the ties we have developed and remain members of the St. Demetrios Community,”she said.
Thecertificates were then awardedto the graduates by Principal Koularmanis, Archbishop Demetrios, and Archimandrite Papazafiropoulos to conclude the ceremony.