A Dynamic Start to the School Year at St. Demetrios Astoria (Video)

ASTORIA – With more innovative and new projects, with 20% renewed teaching staff, with refurbished classrooms and a rebuilt St. Catherine School, the new school year began for the High School of St. Demetrios Astoria. The High School of St. Demetrios Astoria is the only and largest daily Greek-American school in all of the United States.

From 2001 until today, it has benefited from more than $2 million in donations from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, which in 2001 was declared the Grand Benefactor of the School, while the portrait of Stavros Niarchos is in a prominent position opposite the Library.

Video by TNH/Costas Bej

The school year 2017-2018, as mentioned by the Superintendent of the High School, Anastasios Koularmanis, begins dynamically, with greater zeal and enthusiasm, thanks to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation announcement in the spring of its intention to donate $25 million.

At about the same time, the School benefited from the $1 million donation made by the School Board Chairman, Nick Andriotis, for the renovation of the Primary School of the Community, located on Archbishop Iakovou Street (between 23rd Avenue and of the Ditmars Boulevard).

In the summer, as Koularmanis pointed out, was the busiest for himself and for Andriotis, because they had to deal with the construction taking place at Saint Demetrios and Saint Catherine, and, also had to work with the committee responsible for the viability study to implement the historic donation of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.

Koularmanis, among other things, personally worked on the renovation of the high school’s library. With the work completed, the library has changed dramatically and without the slightest doubt we can say that it is Greek, richer, and more attractive for the students and teachers.

Asked about the specifics of the new school year, Koularmanis pointed out that it is a historic year celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Day School and the 90th anniversary of the community of Saint Demetrios Astoria. At the same time, he noted that this is the first time in his 18 years leading the school that planning to improve and add new programs can be done without worrying about the financial costs.

“Our main concern is the improvement and upgrading of the education provided and this is accomplished in two main ways: The first by recruiting qualified teachers and the second by creating the necessary conditions for the implementation of new programs in the field of science and a variety of programs, such as music, painting and design, theater and others,” he said.

Referring to the staff, he stressed that they have recruited new teachers and that 20% of them will be teaching for the first time at the School.

This year, six teachers will also be teaching posted directly from Greece and Koularmanis expressed gratitude for the interest of head of educational affairs at the Consulate General of Greece in New York, Thaleia Chatzigiannoglou.
Teachers from Greece, as mentioned, are trained for the requirements of American schools and will contribute to the further enhancement of the Greek Language and Culture Programs.

Asked about the renovation of the school complex at St. Catherine, Koularmanis pointed out that it is ultramodern, wireless, air-conditioned, and with more classrooms.

Referring to the number of students, he said that there are currently six hundred and clarified that their goal is not the quantitative but the qualitative difference.

This year, ten young pupils from Greece have been enrolled, who have been added to more than fifty who have come to New York because of the financial crisis. Therefore, one out of ten students attending St. Demetrios was born in Greece and this creates a perfect blend to maintain and strengthen the Greek character of the school.

“Our school is similar to the best private and public schools in New York. Moreover, this is evidenced by student performance in state examinations and the admission of students to the best universities. It is also, if not the only one, at least one of the few schools with fixed and low tuition fees,” Koularmanis pointed out.

Most students, as he mentioned, come from Astoria and Long Island City which are included in the areas of Queens with increasingly expensive rents and a skyrocketing cost of living.

That is why they provide scholarships and financial assistance to pupils from low-income families who, as Koularmanis noted, are being subjected to great sacrifices to educate their children.

The School has one of the best Kindergartens and most students graduating from high school have studied for fourteen years in the same school environment. At the same time, Pre-Kindergarten, the “Universal Pre-K” is funded by the City of New York, free of charge and open to all residents. There are a few vacancies and Koularmanis has invited the Greek community to register their children in this program.

The program ends every day at 3 pm, but the school has added an extra hour each day for the teaching of the Greek Language and Culture. On the basis of this program, the two school complexes have acquired security staff this year, funded by the City of New York.


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