BROOKLYN, NY – [Photos: A. Fantis School]
The A. Fantis School of Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Brooklyn recently organized its annual 8th-grade trip to Greece, aptly named “ΠΑΜΕ ΕΛΛΑΔΑ” (Let’s go to Greece!).
Led by Rev. Protopresbyter of the Ecumenical Throne Evagoras Constantinides and chaperoned by the religion teacher, Mr. John Strzelecki, the students and their parents were treated to a truly enriching experience, as they delved into Greek mythology, history, culture, and the Greek Orthodox faith while visiting numerous archaeological and religious sites throughout the mainland and Peloponnesus of Greece.
This trip was aimed at bringing the students’ studies since preschool to life and providing them with a unique educational experience.
Mr. Jim Murphy, a parent who attended the trip said,” this amazing trip was the culmination of Joseph’s ten years at A. Fantis. He studied the language, culture, and history of Greece. Now he has lived it: running a foot race with his classmates in the arena of the ancient Olympics, lighting candles for his grandparents at the Byzantine Cathedral, and munching on grilled squid on the beach with his friends!”
The students departed from the United States for Athens on Friday, May 5th, and started their trip with a visit to Corinth Canal for light dinner and sightseeing before heading to Patras. On Sunday, May 7th, they visited Ancient Olympia, where they were guided through the site of the Ancient Olympics, which remains the spot where the Olympic flame is lit to this day. The students also explored the remains of the Temple of Zeus and the Olympic Stadium. They then visited the grounds of Ionian Village, the international summer camp of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
The following day, Monday, May 8th, the students visited the historic monasteries of Mega Spileon and Agia Lavra and the town of Kalavryta, where they had lunch. The town played an essential historical part in World War II, as it was completely martyred by the Nazis. After that, the group moved to Nafplion.
On Tuesday, May 9th, the group visited Mykines and took a tour of the ancient site before departing for Icon Art Byzantine Studio of Dimitrios Mourlas, before arriving that afternoon in Athens. On Wednesday, May 10th, the students visited the Monastery of Saint Nektarios and then had free time in the Port of Aegina.
During the last days of their trip in Athens, the students visited Cape Sounion and toured the Ancient Temple of Poseidon, the Parthenon, and Acropolis, as well as the Acropolis Museum, Monastiraki, and Plaka. One of the highlights of the trip was when the students and their parents were welcomed at the headquarters of the Presidential Guard by Commanding Officer Lt. Commander Ilias Karmiris, who presented the students with gifts and gave them a tour of the barracks. The group returned to New York City on May 13th, ending their week-long excursion.
The Seniors reflecting on the trip said, “We anticipated this moment for 10 years! During this trip we had a chance to use our Greek speaking skills to communicate with the locals who were impressed that we were speaking in Greek! Seeing the historical monuments in person, that we have been learning about for so many years, was an extension of our Hellenic studies program! Finally, as a class we had an opportunity to create memories, bond more with our friends, and connect once again with our school’s values away from school!”
Father Evagoras expressed his gratitude to the parents and students for their enthusiasm and cooperation throughout the journey. He remarked, “I am incredibly proud of our students, who showed a deep interest in Greek history, culture, and the Orthodox faith. They were excellent ambassadors of our school and our community. I would like to thank our wonderful Cathedral and School for their unwavering support, and I am certain that this trip has created a lasting impact on our students, who will cherish the memories of this extraordinary educational experience for years to come”.
Finally, Mr. Allan Fair, parent, conveyed his enthusiasm for the senior trip: “Our 8th grade trip to Greece was the crowning achievement of my son’s career at A. Fantis which dates all the way back to Pre-K 3. The 8 days in Greece was the perfect blend of educational and religious curriculum mixed with sightseeing, free time, fun, and food, oh my goodness the food! Every excursion was well organized and thoughtfully paced where the adventure kept turning without dragging out, or getting stale. Not an easy feat with a group of teenagers and their parents. Most importantly, my son and his classmates had a wonderful time that they will carry with them into their high school careers!”