Source: The National Herald
NEW YORK – Amidst a busy schedule during her recent visit to New York, the First Lady of the Republic of Cyprus Andri Anastasiades experienced the love and warmth generated by a special program of music and poety and time spent time with the students, staff and supporters of the day school of the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity.
Dean of the Cathedral Fr. John Vlahos expressed his joy over the visit, which included a tour of the Cathedral School, and institution which emerged from difficulties of a few years past to a status among the best private schools of Manhattan’s Upper East Side, achievement he said is analogous to what the leaders and people of Cyprus are now accomplishing in the context of its economic crisis.
Head of School Theodore P. Kusulas served as Emcee for the program and acknowledged the presence of Bishop Sevastianos of Zelon, who is Cypriot and offered opening prayers, Consul General of Cyprus Amb. Vasilios Philippou, Director of Education of the Archdiocese Dr. Ioannis Efthimiopoulos, Live Diakolios, and Roula Lambrakis.
Kusulas thanked the organizers of the touching event, including Archdeacon Panteleimon Papadopoulos, Constantinos Yiannoudes, noted baritone and founding director of the Kyrenia Opera who also serves as the School’s performing arts director.
Yiannoudes led a choir of student in traditional Cypriot songs and accompanied them on piano. Among those selected for the choir were Sasha Ronning, Olga Lattousakis, Jannett Martiena, Nikoforos Papadopoulos, Philip Sommer, Manolis Lambrakis, and Ilia Persianis. Manolis Lambrakis and George Vetter also delighted with their reading of George Seferis’ poem Eleni and student Katerina Vitelas, representing her classmates, offered greetings to Mrs. Anasasiades.
The school’s energetic and devoted PTA was represented by Diakolios and Lambrakis, president and vice president respectively.
Kusulas who deemed the visit a great honor to the school, thanked and congratulated the staff, represented on the solea by the school’s deputy head Debbie Tsafos and Greek Department Coordinator Elli Tsakou for their outstanding work. Turning to Tsakou, he added, “thank you for teaching our student the joy of playing with language” and them praised the language skills of the students themselves, many of whom are 2nd and 3rd generation Greek-Americans.
Flowers were presented to the First Lady and gifts were exchanged to applause, and Mrs. Anastasiades began remarks by thanking Archbishop Demetrios and the Greek-American community for their support and love for Cyprus. She concluded by congratulating everyone involved with the school and expressing thanks for being invited to visit.
Bishop Sevastianos devoted his brief speech sharing some of the story of his beloved country with the children. He noted that geologists now confirm that like the birth of Aphrodite, its patron deity, the island emerged from the depths of the Mediterranean Sea eons ago.
He also expressed pride in the island’s Christian heritage by noting that the Church of Cyprus was established by St. Paul himself.
He them spoke of the trials and tribulations endured by the Cypriots through the centuries, and their courage and perseverance as they overcame every challenge, preserving their Orthodox faith and Hellenic identity intact.
“I too am a refugee from the Turkish invasion,” the Bishop said. “One third of my classmate lives in Melbourne and has not been able to return to their homes…so it’s important for us to spread the word about freedom and human rights and justice for Cyprus.”
He echoed the hope expressed by Efthimiopoulos that a Cyprus solution is imminent but he urged the community to continue its efforts. He too called the students ambassadors, and hoped they would pass on their knowledge and hope for Cyprus to their families and friends.
Kusulas declared earlier that the school could not have achieved its success without the help and support of the Department of Education of the Archdiocese and invited Efthimiopoulos to the podium. The latter began by saying to Mrs. Anastasiades, “I wish to tell you first that the love of Archbishop Demetrios and all of the teachers for Cyprus is with you.”
Efthimiopoulos also expressed his appreciation for the support and hospitality he and the almost 20 teachers who accompanied him this year on the annual visit to Cyprus to participate in programs for Greek education and professional development, and especially for their meeting with her husband, the President of Cyprus.