ASTORIA – St. Demetrios High School in Astoria held its graduation ceremony on July 11 with best wishes for the future for the Class of 2020 and encouragement to stay strong and overcome any obstacle, as they did with the unprecedented consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.
The attendees, wearing masks and social distancing, warmly applauded the graduates, who are now spreading their wings to the next chapter of their lives.
Among those present, His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America and Consul General of Greece in New York Konstantinos Koutras gave moving speeches.
Among the students, Valedictorian Athanasios Karageorge, as well as Salutatorians, Theodora Mitsakis and George Tsiros, also spoke movingly during the ceremony. It should be noted that for the first time in years, the Honorary President of the School Board, Nick Andriotis, did not make a speech at the graduation. However, he told The National Herald that it was his choice and that he had addressed the students earlier, privately.
St. Demetrios High School Principal Helen Karagiorgos gave the welcoming remarks and referred to the special occasion during which the graduation ceremony took place, noting that, even with strict adherence to health protocols, the decision was made to honor the deserving graduates.
“The graduates deserved a night to honor them. We are proud of you and what you have accomplished, under the most difficult conditions that any other generation has experienced. Many of you started from Kindergarten and St. Demetrios School became your second home,” said Karagiorgos.
Archbishop Elpidophoros in turn pointed out the difficult conditions under which the 2020 class graduated from high school, expressing confidence that this experience will also shield it from the challenges of the future.
“With this pandemic and masks, you will have these photos and tell your children in the future that 'we started with the biggest and most difficult problems in life, but we did it.' You will have other images, the icon of Saint Demetrios, but you will also have the images of teachers and professors. You can forget the knowledge, but what will remain in your memory and in your heart is the image of the teacher who with a lot of patience tried to teach you things, knowledge, good behavior, love, respect, to teach you humanity,” said Archbishop Elpidophoros, who noted that “the Greek Orthodox treasure never ends,”
The value of Greek education in modern times was also mentioned by Consul General of Greece in New York Konstantinos Koutras, who reminded the graduates of the comparative advantages offered by sectors such as the development of technology, but also the fact that they will be carriers of culture from two different currents, the European and the American.
"What Greece means is now a new experience for you young people. First of all, the concept of distance no longer exists. This practically means that in the future, you may be working for an American company from a Greek island. You can even become tomorrow's government adviser, as other Greek-Americans are doing now, as we speak. The challenge for your generation is not whether you will be able to come closer to Greece, but whether you will want to,” said Consul General Koutras.
In his speech, Valedictorian Athanasios Karageorge pointed out that graduation is “a big change that will determine our future,” and expressed confidence that “everyone is prepared for the next step.”
“We will have these moments inside us forever, not only me, but every student who graduates. Nobody knows where the road will lead us, but what I know for sure is that we are all prepared for the next step,” said Karageorge. were his words.
From the Salutatorians, Theodora Mitsakis thanked the teachers of St. Demetrios and referred to the new challenge, college.
She said, “I will take the lessons learned here and all this support system that I have had all these years and I will move on to my next adventure, Fordham University. It will be something new and a little scary, but who doesn't love these situations, right?” Her co-Salutatorian George Tsiros closed his speech by talking about the health and social situation, reiterating that all these situations will make him and his classmates more determined and strong.
“Although the Class of 2020 has experienced a pandemic and a great deal of social tension, all of this has made us stronger and prepared us for future challenges. We, the Class of 2020 of St. Demetrios Astoria, will push ourselves to succeed, because that is what we learned from this school, the best in New York.”
The graduates of the class of 2020 are: Panagiota Asprogerakas, Anthony Baka, Ioannis Boukas, Christian John Cina, Maria Dellai, Andreas Gritsipis, Emily Hammer, Athanasios Karageorge, Marios Konnaris, Demetra Koumoulis, Panagiotis Krampis, Alexandra Kremmydas, Maria Kyriakopoulos, Andres Labora, George Larcey, Erasmia Mastora, Theodora Mitsakis, Eleftheria Petrou, Konstantinos Psarros, Michelle Sanchez, Sofia Silva Brazil, Georgia Synodinos, Matina Theodoropoulos, Savvas Tserkezidis, Melina Tsiropoulos, George Tsiros, Demetrios Tzanetatos, Ximena Vargas, Steven Voumvourakis, Harry Zekkas, and Yannis Zogopoulos.