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General News

St. Thomas Hellenic School Commencement in Cherry Hill, NJ

CHERRY HILL, NJ – With great pomp and circumstance, the 2024 graduating class of the Saint Thomas Hellenic School in Cherry Hill, NJ, celebrated their commencement on June 2 with family and friends at St. Thomas Greek Orthodox Church, prior to the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy on the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman.

The graduating class marched into the church and took their place on the church ‘solea’ – the space in front of the icon screen. Greek School Principal Margarita Vrettos commented on how proud she was of this graduating class and reflected on their growth from when she was their first grade teacher. The graduating class’ teacher, Glykeria Fountoglou, shared that this was one of the most wonderful graduating classes she taught language to without the need to translate or explain in English. She also shared that this graduating class was talented enough to take and pass the Greek government’s ‘Ellinomatheia’ exam for Greek fluency. Both Stamina Koutsogiannis and Michael Poulathas spoke to the congregation solely in Greek accepting their awards as Valedictorian and Salutatorian, respectively. The student speakers made everyone proud with their words, exemplifying the quality of the Greek School, while also emphasizing how they made life-long friendships and how proud they were to be Greek-Americans.

Parish Council President Tassos Efstratiades and Parish Council representative for the Greek School Dimitrios Rozanitis both wished all the graduates well and strength in their future endeavors while also encouraging them to reach the heights of their greatest potential.

Saint Thomas Hellenic School in Cherry Hill, NJ, celebrated their commencement on June 2. Photo: Steve Lambrou

Presiding priest of the Fr. Avgoustinos Psomas likewise congratulated all the graduates and reminded them as they commence to the next stage of their life that they should know and remember that Jesus and their St. Thomas Church family will always be there to guide them. Each of the graduates was presented their diplomas and honored individually. The Greek School PTO further honored the graduates with individual gifts of the book, ‘A Guide to Greek Traditions and Customs in America’ by Marilyn Rouvelas, and customized mugs and cookies.

This graduation ceremony followed the May 30 final Greek School Day festivities. On the last day of class, all the school children, parents and family initially gathered in the church proper for recognitions and student awards. Then, the festivities continued both inside the Danielle Kousoulis Cultural Center and outside on the Church grounds sponsored by the PTO. The PTO sponsored a traditional Greek meal for all, including souvlakia, tyropites, Greek salad, and many other Greek items and desserts. The children also celebrated with karaoke stations, photo booths, DJ music, balloon artists, inflatable jump houses, and obstacle courses. It was a great and enjoyable ‘end of school year’ reward for the students who displayed their happiness with ear to ear smiles. Finally, the newly-elected PTO board and Fr. Psomas recognized Stellios Lambrou for his continuous support as the official photographer of the Greek School as well as outgoing President Athena Poulathas for her many years of service.

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