BOSTON – Boston and its suburbs, especially Arlington and Cambridge, were filled with Christmas carols sung by the joyful voices of the students of the independent Greek school, Greek Group Tutoring (GGT), rejuvenating the tradition of visiting homes and businesses of Greek-Americans for Christmas.
Thirty-two children out of the sixty that comprise the newly-established school and twenty-two parents, along with teachers, boarded a school bus at a central point in Arlington, MA and began their Christmas journey with enthusiasm, laugher and carols singing the Incarnation of God.
Greek Group Tutoring is a newly established School, the initiative of the parents from the parish of St. Athanasius the Great in Arlington after the dismissal of its presiding priest of 28 years Fr. Nicholas Kastanas by Metropolitan Methodios on July 30, 2017.
Since then the situation has gotten worse. A massive exodus of parishioners took place, including some 54 parents who took their children out the Afternoon Greek School and left.
Pemmy Kanavos, chairperson of the Board and one of the parents who initiated the establishment of the new school told The National Herald that “the School was established in 2017 due to the problems which arose from Fr. Nick’s removal from our parish. We decided we wanted to keep our children together, so, we gathered and we decided to ask the teachers to offer private lessons to our children. The effort was spread by word of mouth but more parents were asking what they could do, and thus 54 children were gathered – we left and established our own school. We found a very nice place at the Baptist Church in Lexington Massachusetts, where they embraced us, they opened their doors to us and welcomed us.”
According to Mrs. Kanavos “the school today has 60 students and the tuition for the first child is $500, for the second $425 and for the third $350. Mrs. Eleni Kakambouras, who specializes in special education in the public school system offers her help voluntarily to our school.” Asked if the Greek Afternoon School of the St. Athanasius parish is in operation, Kanavos and Kakambouras said they don’t know and that they have no communication with it at all.
To the question whether attempts were made by the Metropolis of Boston and from St. Athanasius parish to approach them, Kanavos said “not from the Metropolis. Once Fr. Anthony Evangelatos and Fr. Aaron Walker, he now has gone from St. Athanasius, came and told us that they want to bridge the gap and they want us back. We told them that we already have established a school, we are very well here and we don’t intend to return.”
Kanavos clarified that “we have nothing to do with St. Athanasius. We are a completely independent school and we accept children from everywhere.”
She also said that “all parents and teachers are united with love for one another. We are friends and we support each other for the good of our children and that is why the effort has been successful because we strive to keep the friendships of our children alive and strong, we are one family.”
When asked why they didn’t stay at St. Athanasius, she said “With everything that transpired we thought it wouldn’t be prudent to let our children experience all those things that were happening there.”
Kostas and Efrosini Kouiroukidis have two children in the school, a boy and a girl. Mrs. Kouiroukidis said “the school is going very well. The children like it because all the children are together” and she added that “we shouldn’t lose our Greek language, our Faith and Culture, we should be united.”
Regarding the possibility of establishing a Greek day school in Boston, they both replied “It would be nice, something like that.” They also said that they would welcome the creation of a charter school in Boston.
The pupils of the independent Greek school “Greek Group Tutoring” are singing the carols at the Greek Corner Restaurant in Cambridge Massachusetts. (Photos by TNH/Theodore Kalmoukos)