Honoring Ioannis Giannopoulos, Founder of First Greek School in America

The National Herald Archive

Ioannis Giannopoulos who founded the first Greek school in America in 1760 was honored in Tripoli. Photo: Courtesy of Giorgos Blastropoulos/Streamia

TRIPOLI – Ioannis Giannopoulos, the teacher who founded the first Greek school in America in 1760, was honored on January 22 at a special event in Tripoli, Arcadia. The school was founded in St. Augustine, FL and is known to this day as the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse.

The Municipality of Tripoli, in collaboration with the architect/artist Dimitris Talaganis, organized an audiovisual event in memory of the great teacher at the Apostolopoulou Cultural Center entitled: “Ioannis Giannopoulos travels after 250 years for a second time to America for a conversation with history. Ioannis Giannopoulos is a link in the great chain of the Diaspora that has kept the flame burning, which has led to the great event of national rebirth.”

Present at the event were Federation of Hellenic-American Educators President Stella Kokolis, Prometheus Association President Meropi Kyriakou, and Rhode Island's Greek-American State Senator Leonidas Raptakis.

Mr. Talaganis curated the event in honor of Ioannis Giannopoulos. He spoke about his history and the need he felt to build a school so that Greek children could learn the Greek language, as well as the customs and traditions of their homeland.

For his part, the Mayor of Tripoli, Konstantinos Tzioumis, with a simple but concise speech noted that “in the face of Ioannis Giannopoulos we honor all the Arcadians, the Greeks of the Diaspora, who each contributed a stone to the effort in order to spread Greek education throughout the world, and thus contributing to the rebirth of the Nation, but also to the Revolution of 1821. Good luck Ioannis Giannopoulos on your second trip to America.”

Mrs. Kokolis, who came from the U.S. specifically to attend this event, said, "I am here moved and excited for this event, seeing the youth of Greece, the inhabitants of Arcadia, present in this historic city of Tripoli, and Giannopoulos saying ‘I leave blessed from the sacred soil of Arcadia now, years ago I left persecuted by enemies'…. From the land of Greece, from Arcadia, but also from every corner of Greece, the bust of Giannopoulos will pass and it will say, “Long live Greece, long live Arcadia who sent me out into the world poor and I return glorified eternally. He will say, ‘Long live everyone who comes here and takes away with them this idea, this voice, do not forget my country Greece.' Thank you all, it is an honor and a pleasure to be here.”

Sen. Raptakis also spoke at the event, greeting all the attendees and noted that Greeks everywhere work hard every day for the good of Greece, because they do not forget about their homeland, wherever they are.

The bust of Ioannis Giannopoulos will travel to St. Augustine, Florida on March 7, 2020. It should be noted that the event is part of the series of events commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Revolution of 1821.