Potters Bar Greek School celebrates 40 years
- Credit: supplied
A language school is celebrating 40 years of bringing the Potters Bar Greek community together.
When Andrew Pantelli was a young boy growing up in the UK, he didn’t look forward to his Greek language lessons.
Instead of playing on a Saturday, he was having to sit in a classroom.
Now that he is chair of the Greek School in Potters Bar, he is focused on making sure that learning Greek and staying connected to the Greek community is as fun and lively as possible for him and his family.
“I wanted my kids to love the fact that they have got this Greek background,” he said, “Which is why I got involved with the school.”
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The school on Chace Avenue, headed by Stella Nadiotis, was founded by her husband Thrassos who retired last year.
There, children are taught on Monday evenings and Saturdays, and for an annual charge of between £250 and £295 per child.
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Although it is active with the traditions of the Greek Orthodox religion, it is independent from the Church.
“We try to make it a family environment, and run as many social events as possible,” said Andrew, whose two children attend language classes. “We try to make it different to ‘normal’ school.”
A summer concert is held on Yiorti, a Greek festival on August 15, and the school holds events to celebrate Greek and Cypriot Independence Days as well as a Christmas fair, among other events throughout the year.
Born in the UK, Andrew is one of many people with Greek heritage who seek to keep strong ties to that part of his community, which is growing in Potters Bar.
“We get a lot of kids who are half Greek and half British,” he said.
“We’ve also got a lot of children that are two to three generations removed, for whom Greek is by no means a first language.”
“But you also have a lot of people from Greece that have moved recently to the UK,” he said.
“They are new, and they want their kids to retain a certain level of involvement with the Greek community.”
He says he speaks good Greek himself, although not as fluently as he’d like.
“You have children and you think, they’re losing that,” he said. “The school keeps our children proud of their individuality rather than shy away from it.
“You love being able to, at least once a week, look at your origins and speak the language,” he said.