Greek American education dates back to 1777 when the first group of Greek immigrants settled in New Smyrna, Florida. “Two forms of organized Greek education developed. One was the full time day (parochial) school and other the afternoon (parochial) school where young children received Greek language instruction after attending public school.” Most Greek American schools are “parochial school systems under the auspices of the Greek Archdiocese. The Greek Day schools reach only a small segment of Greek American youth. The afternoon schools have had a much greater impact.” Furthermore, “at the beginning, the language of instruction in day schools was Greek with English taught as a foreign language. In time, as the need for accreditation arose, English became the main language for instruction, but the Greek language, religion, history and culture continued to be heavily stressed” 1(Orfanos, 180-181).


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“There are twelve day schools in the New York metropolitan area” 2(Orfanos, 180). One of the most influential ones is the Saint Demetrios Astoria School, which is the largest Greek-American school in the United States. It is a day school that includes elementary, middle, and high school students, but it is also an afternoon school 3(Saint Demetrios Astoria School). Saint Demetrios Astoria School is neither heavily focused on American education nor heavily focused on Hellenic education and Orthodox religion, but rather it has a well-balanced curriculum and value system that incorporates both cultures fairly evenly. Expressing the values of both American as well as Greek culture, the school aims to “offer students the tools necessary to excel further in achieving their academic studies and life goals” as well as teach values such as honesty, respect, hard work, and responsibility 4(Siders).


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The students at Saint Demetrios Astoria School are receiving a “holistic education and value system reflective of an Orthodox upbringing.” The staff strives to instill in the students the “pride in their ethnic heritage, by teaching Orthodox Christian religion and the rich Hellenic history and culture.” The students receive two Greek periods a day and the majority of the students speak Greek fairly well. They learn Greek songs that teach them about the history of Greece as well as religious songs that teach them about their faith 5(Siders).


Video courtesy of Izabela Konopko



Image courtesy of Izabela Konopko


Image courtesy of Izabela Konopko





The school’s curriculum is based on the New York Content Standards. They “also focus on the district’s own education standards, which include preparing the students to work collaboratively, while becoming self-directed learners, skilled communicators, and comprehensive thinkers” 6(Koularmanis). Although they teach the Orthodox religion and the Hellenic culture, they celebrate every American holiday that comes around, such as St. Patrick’s Day, to teach the children the importance of diversity and acceptance.



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Author: Izabela Konopko