Lavish Christmas Celebration by Prometheus Teachers Society
By Catherine Tsounis
Abundant Long Island evergreen centerpieces decorated the hall transforming an urban setting into Christmas. Greek cuisine donated by Astoria restaurants emitted the scent of Mediterranean cuisine. Greek melodies made the Prometheus meeting/celebration held in the Hellenic Cultural Center (HCC) at 27-09 Crescent Street, Astoria, New York unique.
“Professor Xenophon Zolotas delivered a speech in Greek using the English language at the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development in 1957 and 1959,” said Prometheus President Vasiliki Filiotis. “His speeches are historic, because they contained only terms of Greek origin. Dr. Zolotas stated “I always wished to address this Assembly in Greek, but realized that it would have been indeed "Greek" to all present in this room. I found out, however, that I could make my address in Greek which would still be English to everybody. With your permission, Mr. Chairman, l shall do it now, using with the exception of articles and prepositions, only Greek words.
Kyrie, I eulogize the archons of the Panethnic Numismatic Thesaurus and the Ecumenical Trapeza for the orthodoxy of their axioms, methods and policies, although there is an episode of cacophony of the Trapeza with Hellas. With enthusiasm we dialogue and synagonize at the synods of our didymous organizations in which polymorphous economic ideas and dogmas are analyzed and synthesized. Our critical problems such as the numismatic plethora generate some agony and melancholy. This phenomenon is characteristic of our epoch. But, to my thesis, we have the dynamism to program therapeutic practices as a prophylaxis from chaos and catastrophe. In parallel, a Panethnic unhypocritical economic synergy and harmonization in a democratic climate is basic. I apologize for my eccentric monologue. I emphasize my euharistia to you, Kyrie to the eugenic and generous American Ethnos and to the organizers and protagonists of his Amphictyony and the gastronomic symposia.” For more information, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xenophon_Zolotas. President Vasiliki Filiotis has a Ph.D. and several degrees. Her talented sisters, Georgia and Adriana Filiotis, worked behind the scenes preparing and donating finds to make this event unforgettable. They succeeded.
Isocrates believed “So far has Athens left the rest of mankind behind in thought and expression that her pupils have become the teachers of the world, and she has made the name of Hellas distinctive no longer of race but of intellect, and the title of Hellene a badge of education rather than of common descent.” (http://hellenicantidote.blogspot.com/2009/03/isocrates-on-greek-culture-and-race.html) This should be the new direction of Greek education in 2013. The meeting/celebration had the distinct honor of having present: Mrs. Anastasia Bakogiannis, community activist; Dr. John Angelidis, professor of J. Tobin School of Business, St. John’s University; Dr. Spiros P. Katsifis, Chairperson of the Department of Biology, University of Bridgeport; Professor John Antonopoulos, University of Staten Island; Eleni Karageorgiou, Education Counselor of the Greek Consulate, New York; Stella Kokolis, President of the Federation of Hellenic American Educators; Dr. John Siolas, professor of Modern Greek at St. John’s University and past president of Prometheus Greek teachers Association; Maria Makedon, Director of Archdiocesan Office of Education and Chair of the Constitution Committee, Mr. Yannis Markopoulos, past president of Prometheus Greek Teachers Association; Dr. George Melikokis, former principal of St. Demetrios Education Day School; Mr. Timoleon Kokkinos, for principal of St. Demetrios Greek Afternoon School and past president of Prometheus and other educators.
Mrs. Makedon mentioned how the Archdiocese of the Greek Orthodox Church was instrumental in aiding me in my career in the early years. She conjured memories of the America of 1970’s: a society racked with a divisive war in Vietnam, breaking down of traditional society and assimilation of the grandchildren of Greek immigrants of 1922 from the former Ottoman Empire. There was disharmony between Middle America of hyphenated Greek-Americans who wanted English in the Greek Orthodox Church and the new immigrants from Greece, proponents of the Greek language. My mentors, Fannie Zicopoulos, a Greek educator at St. Demetrios Parochial School in Astoria and her husband Taki Zicopoulos, a former teacher/laboratory professional, motivated and encouraged me to secure a Greek Teacher’s license.
What was the purpose? To motivate third generation Greek Americans into the instruction of Greek language and preventing the loss of Hellenic identity. I had just acquired the first degree in Byzantine History in 1973 from Queens College, prior to the establishment of the Center for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies by Dr. Harry Psomiades. I had begun a Saturday Program for students of all backgrounds interested in Modern Greek at the Transfiguration Church of Mattituck, Long Island. Mr. Emanuel Hatziemmanuel, a visionary, granted me a Greek Teacher’s License from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America. Mrs. Maria Makedon, an administrator, was present in the office. I have had the pleasure of working with Ms. Makedon from 1976 to 2012, reporting on the accomplishments of the Greek Archdiocese in newspapers, magazines and the internet. Our hope is that Hellenism flourishes in America. The Prometheus Greek Teachers Association is attracting a highly educated segment of the community who want their children to speak Greek at home.
“Congratulations to the Federation of Hellenic Teachers in the USA and The Greek Teacher Association Prometheus,” Publisher/President of Hermes Expo Paul Kotrotsios said at the 19th Hermes Expo in March 2012. “They have distinguished themselves in their profession. Their devotion to the Hellenic principles and ideals are exemplary. They are passing the torch of the values of Hellenic Education to our youth. They keep alive the importance of Hellenism to our community and the United States.” This is the true meaning of Prometheus.
“We must encourage all to participate, so our society will live on. Not just the same persons should be heard. The quiet, unknown, hardworking educator must be remembered. They are the basis of our Greek-American society,” said President Vasiliki Filiotis.
Mrs. Stella Kokolis expressed “unity to solidify Greek education.” “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all” – Aristotle, 384 B.C.-322 B.C. Stella Kokolis has used heart in all of instruction since the late 1960’s. Her unique education experience from New York City, America and global community was celebrated October 14th, 2012 at the 25th Anniversary Celebration of the Hellenic News of America (HNA) newspaper at the Concordville Inn-Best Western Hotel & Conference Center in Concordville, Pennsylvania. A packed audience attended, primarily from second, third and fourth Greek-American, Middle America society. They came from states on the northeastern seaboard.
Stella Kokolis is recognized locally, nationally and internationally as a prominent community leader, educator and humanitarian. She has received numerous awards for her professional, charitable and political work by major organizations and political leaders both in the United States and abroad.
Maria Vasilakou, a retired, international educator and active Prometheus Greek American Association member, was the primary donor in Hellenic Relief Foundation. Their purpose is to secure funds and give it directly to Middle Class Greeks jeopardized by the austerity measures in Greece. The Hellenic Relief Fund sends a representative from the United States to purchase food from local Greek merchants to help the local community. A real humanitarian crisis exists. They are attempting to uplift the image of Greece globally. For more information, visit http://www.hellenicrelief.org/en/ or call 347 201-1821. Unity, positivism and harmony made the Greek Teachers Association Prometheus celebration unique.
“We are helping the victims of Hurricane Sandy in Staten Island,” said Dr. John Antonopoulos. “Our Ahepa chapter #349 collected $11,000. We gave $1,000 each to 11 Greek-American families who lost their homes. Our chapter was #1 in the country helping survivors.” Prometheus members are helping survivors of catastrophes directly. Prometheus holds on to old fashion values that explains why Greeks are one of the few ancient cultures still alive in our present time.
The officers of the Greek Teachers Association “Prometheus” who were present included: Vasiliki Filiotis, President; Adriana Filiotis, secretary; John G. Siolas, Ph.D., treasurer; Board Members Stella Kokolis, Timoleon Kokkinos, Cathy Koutsoupakis; Alternate members Emily Antonopoulos, Georgia Papadopoulou; Advisory Board Maria Makedon, director of Office of Education, Prof. John Antonopoulos, Georgia Filiotis; Auditing Members George Melikokis, Ph.D. and Apostolos Fountas.
Photo 1 – Professor Xenophon Zolotas delivered a speech in Greek using the English language at the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development in 1957 and 1959,” said Prometheus President Vasiliki Filiotis to Board and participants.
Photo 2 - Stella Kokolis, President of the Federation of Hellenic American Educators stating her views on Hellenism, with President Filiotis by her side.
Prometheus Greek Teachers Association Holds Workshop at 2012 Hermes Expo: