Belmont Greek School Celebrates 50th Anniversary

Belmont Greek School Celebrates 50th Anniversary

Holy Cross Greek School in Belmont, California celebrated its 50th Anniversary with a family gala on October 1, 2016. The theme of the evening was “Celebrating Our Past & Inspiring Our Future” and included distinguished guests and keynote speakers His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos and Ambassador Eleni Kounalakis, former U.S. Ambassador to Hungary. Additional remarks were offered by His Excellency Dimitrios Xenitellis, Consul General of Greece in San Francisco. Also in attendance were honored guests Mr. Nicolaos Theophanous, Honorary Consul of Cyprus of San Francisco, and Mr. Ted Laliotis, President of the Hellenic Federation of Northern California, United Hellenic American Societies (UHAS).

Belmont Greek School students welcome the guests.

Belmont Greek School students welcome the guests.

Keynote Speaker Ambassador Eleni Kounalakis. [Photos by Nikoleta Jani]

Keynote Speaker Ambassador Eleni Kounalakis. [Photos by Nikoleta Jani]

His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos acknowledged the strong presence of the Holy Cross Greek School, noting that the enrollment averages over 120 students yearly. “The Belmont Greek School has been a constant force in the Holy Cross community, but also for the surrounding parishes,” stated His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos. “The excellent model of education you have established has proven itself for many years, with the successful instruction of your students as witnessed by their accomplishments.”  His Eminence continued by emphasizing the important role that the community plays in building a successful Greek school program, “we owe a debt of gratitude to everyone who has given from their heart to make this anniversary possible – from those visionary early founders, to all of the clergy who have served this community, and to each of you for making the instruction and preservation of the Greek language a priority in your homes and families.”

Consul General of Greece Dimitrios Xenitellis, Rev. Father Peter Salmas, Metropolitan Gerasimos, and Ambassador Eleni Kounalakis

Consul General of Greece Dimitrios Xenitellis, Rev. Father Peter Salmas, Metropolitan Gerasimos, and Ambassador Eleni Kounalakis

Ambassador Kounalakis articulated the significance of the Greek language and heritage, making special note of the Greek words “filotimo” and “filoxenia”, words that have deep meaning in Greek, yet are difficult to translate in any other language. Consul General Xenitellis emphasized the importance of the presence of the Greek language and community in the San Francisco Bay Area and throughout the United States.

Belmont Greek School Leadership: Mrs. Vaso Tonas, Kleon Skourtis, Dr. Lydia Alexander, Sia Charonis, Metropolitan Gerasimos, Rev. Father Peter Salmas, Theodora Kounalakis

Belmont Greek School Leadership: Mrs. Vaso Tonas, Kleon Skourtis, Dr. Lydia Alexander, Sia Charonis, Metropolitan Gerasimos, Rev. Father Peter Salmas, Theodora Kounalakis

The 50th Anniversary Celebration for the Belmont Greek School was organized by event co-chairs Sia Charonis, Penny Kostaras, and Katerina Vourthis. The evening began with fellowship and a reception, followed by students offering a formal welcome in Greek. Guests then enjoyed a sumptuous dinner and an uplifting program featuring notable speakers and a video tribute to the last 50 years. The evening concluded with live Greek music and dancing by Mythos Band.

The Belmont Greek school is one of the oldest Greek schools in Northern California and is the only Greek school in the San Francisco Bay Area that meets five days a week with three different programs serving students from Pre-K to 6th grade in the afternoons. Teen classes are also offered, as well as evening adult conversation classes at the beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels, as well as an annual children’s Greek speaking summer camp. The school is one of 22 officially recognized examination centers in the U.S. and 151 worldwide for the Certificate of Attainment in Greek which was legally established by the Greek Ministry of Education in November 1998.

Founded in 1966, Holy Cross Greek School is directed by Theodora Kounalakis and Kleon Skourtis, and the Parent Board of Trustees is led by PTO President Dr. Lydia Alexander.  The school is supported by the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church and its spiritual leader, Rev. Father Peter Salmas, who has served as the parish’s pastor since 1988.

Holy Cross Greek School is located at 900 Alameda in Belmont, CA and welcomes students of all ages and levels.  For more information, go to www.belmontgreekschool.com or call 650-508-8164

~ By Penny Kostaras

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