Greek minority school opens after 49 years
ÇANAKKALE - Doğan News Agency
The four students enrolled at the Hagia Todori School performed the opening ceremony by standing for one minute’s silence and reciting the Turkish national anthem, while an attendant carried the Turkish flag. DHA photoAn elementary school for the Greek minority on the island of Gökçeada opened yesterday with four students enrolling, after 49 years of being closed.
The Hagia Todori Elementary School, which was first opened in 1951 but closed in 1964, reopened after the Education Ministry accepted on March 28 the demand to open a school for the Greek minority on Gökçeada, an island off the northwestern province of Çanakkale.
Paraşkevi Berber Katakalos, the principal of the Hagia Todori Elementary School, said they could not be happier or prouder.
“We have finalized the restoration and the preparation works of our school after almost half a century and we are opening it today. It is not enough to define our happiness, we have every right to be proud. I thank everyone who has contributed to bringing this piece to life,” Katakalos said.
Anna Koçumal, who is the founder of the school and who had appealed to the Education Ministry for its reopening, said they had been longing for it for years. She thanked the members of the Gökçeada Greek community for giving her the opportunity to be the founder of the school.
“It is not possible to close a 50-year gap, but we move forward to a new future with hope,” Koçumal said during the opening ceremony in the school's garden.
District Director of National Education Tekin Baş, the Metropolitan Bishop of Gökçeada and Bozcaada Yorgo Draguni Kyrillos, member of the Directorate General of Foundations Assembly Laki Vingas were among the people to attend the ceremony, together with a number of Turkish citizens of Greek origin.
The four students who are enrolled at the Hagia Todori School, 5-year-old Musa Avcı, 6-year-old Dimitri Kalpas, 8-year-old Sofia Avcı and 10-year-old Kaan Kaleci, performed the opening ceremony by standing for one minute’s silence and reading the Turkish national anthem, while an attendant carried the Turkish flag.
Vingas said it marked a significant step for the school’s future to have the right to educate once again. “We have started up again to raise educated, modern knowledge-bearing and competitive youngsters. We seek your prayers and support,” said Vingas.