ASTORIA – The new school year kicked off with smiles and optimism for the Greek community schools. In Astoria, Saint Demetrios School Principal Anastasios Koularmanis spoke to The National Herald and wished good luck to all the students who returned fresh from their summer vacation.
“I ask you to be united and to think positively and creatively. Think about the upcoming trips and cultural activities,” he said, addressing the First grade students. Koularmanis led a tour of the brand new auditorium, which was sponsored by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.
“Thanks to the Foundation’s support, we were able to add three brand new Apple computer labs, a wireless school network, and individual cupboards for the students,” he said.
He told TNH that he looks forward with optimism to the future and foresees a future when the school will have a remarkable reputation among Greeks and non-Greeks alike. “Saint Demetrios will become a model school, which will incorporate all new technologies, with highly trained teachers, more select courses and ever-improving infrastructure,” he said.
Certainly, as he himself admits, good intentions are not enough on their own.
Support is needed from the community, as well as from the financial sponsors of the school, in order to implement all the projects.
“The Greek section of our school is our biggest. There are many Greek professors but also many posted,” Koularmanis said.
Asked about this year’s number of students, he told TNH that many Greeks are still on vacation, but he certainly expects that the number will be the same as and probably greater than last year. “We have second-generation students. There are grandmothers who attended Saint Demetrios and today they bring their grandchildren. They believe in their culture and religion and want to keep it. It’s not just education but it’s above all the ethos that our school teaches,” he said.
When asked about his message to those considering sending their children to Saint Demetrios School, Koularmanis pointed out that “they must not rush to judge or compare Saint Demetrios with other schools, and give us a chance. We really care about children and send them off to good universities. It is no coincidence that we have 100% success in admission to colleges. We are a small school and we send our students to the Ivy League.”
Evangelos Chaziroglou, head of the art department of the school, told TNH about the artistic activities at Saint Demetrios.
“Children will learn Greek songs, religious hymns of our Church, our tradition, and our heritage. The reason that Saint Demetrios exists is to maintain Hellenism in America. The children will also participate in artistic lessons and meet Greek artists.”
In addition to the national holidays and the great feast of St. Demetrios, a theatrical performance is planned for this year, as well as a concert with songs from Greek Cinema.