FLUSHING, NY – The St. Nicholas Greek Afternoon School in Flushing, which bears the names of its great benefactors, Stephen and Areti Cherpelis, is on a restructuring path to attract more students, but also to make it more practical for learning the Greek language and studying Hellenism.
In an interview with The National Herald, Mrs. Maria Zolotas, long-time School Board President, explained that “the traditional academic program will be on Saturday morning” and she added that “the classes that were held on Tuesday and Thursday will be held on Saturday morning because many people felt that the children were tired after public school, it was not so easy to come in the afternoons, and this year we will try to do Saturday morning from 10 AM-1 PM up to the fifth grade. Seventh and eighth grades will remain on Friday afternoon.”
She also said that “parents had asked us, but Father Paul Palesty [presiding priest of the community] and I decided to do a survey. We sent questions to all members of the community, regardless of whether they were parents, grandparents, including questions about the days and times that would be more convenient for parents. Most respondents said they were comfortable on Saturday and would like this change and so we decided to try it out. As you can understand in most afternoon schools, the number of students is down because parents and children have other activities and consider those more necessary than the Greek Letters, so we have now tried to do something different to see if it is now easier for them to come on Saturday.”
According to Mrs. Zolotas, “from pre-K (age four) up to the eighth grade, the school has, at the moment, 150 pupils.”
An expansion of the program is also planned, she explained that “it will be based on a Greek-religious rhythm and will be in the afternoons. That is, a child who goes to Public School or to the St. Nicholas Day School and wants to stay after lessons until 6 PM, we have created a program that includes religion, culture, Greek dances, Greek theater, a varied program from which parents can choose what they think their children would like or what they want their children to learn about, and they will attend selectively, that is, they do not need to be enrolled every day but the days they are interested in.”
Zolotas added that “this program, which is dedicated in the name of Stephen and Areti Cherpelis, will be part of the Greek school.”
When asked how many children are expected to be enrolled this year, Zolotas said, “We have no idea because it is the first time it is being offered.”
And she continued, “We know that the first year will be a bit difficult, the organization of it, but we are ready, we have recruited capable people who will, of course, help me now that I have more time to help. The school has a new principal, Mrs. Panagiota Lilikaki.”
Zolotas was the principal of the Argyrios Fantis Day School of the community of Saints Constantine and Helen in Brooklyn for three years from 2015-18.
When asked if the Archdiocese was informed about the changes or if there was any communication with the office of the Archdiocese, Zolotas replied, “To tell you honestly, I do not know for sure, one hundred percent. First of all, Mrs. Maria Makedon, who was somewhat responsible for all the schools, the Day and the Afternoon schools, is no longer responsible; I heard that she was retiring. But it is not something completely different from the norm what we wanted to do to expand our program.”