Personal Recollections by Father Steven Scoutas
The love that Christ had for children, in particular, is captured powerfully in this incident: “Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:3-4).
Jesus was a Teacher. He was a theological educator. He was, of course, much more than that, as the Son of God, but certainly no less. He taught the Twelve Disciples, and he taught the crowds. The Gospels frequently call him ‘teacher’ or ‘rabbi’, suggestive of the popular reputation he gained for teaching. Indeed, more than once, he identified himself as a teacher, confirming the assessment of others: ‘You call me “Teacher” and “Lord”, and rightly so, for that is what I am’ (John 13: 13).
In more contemporary times, His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has said that “education is not about what we are, but mainly about what we should be”. He also stressed that “In our age, the essentially complex task of education is compounded by new difficulties associated with the signs of the times … Precious traditions are being shattered, human freedom is being misinterpreted as “the art of avoiding limitations,” individualism and the libertarian conception of the human rights regime are spreading everywhere.”
Few people would be aware that even before arriving in Australia from overseas, His Eminence Archbishop Makarios had already received ‘directives’ from Down Under that he must close down one of our Colleges in Melbourne as a priority upon arrival. The School had suffered continual losses of enrolments due to demographic and budgetary changes and was suffering loss of prestige.
Consequently, the day arrived when Archbishop Makarios was to announce the closure of the School. He had the announcement in his hands. But as he looked paternally into the eyes of the students and the teachers, as he gazed upon the walls and the grounds so full of history, he decided, there and then, that it would be a ‘crime’ to close a school.
So, rather than bring gloom and doom to an entire community with such a history, Archbishop Makarios declared, “I refuse to close down this School. We shall work with one heart and mind and turn its plight around. We shall restore its glory and pride”, much to the elation of the students and everyone present. And so it happened.
A school is a sacred institution. St Kosmas of Aetolia went so far as to say “Open schools. It is better to convert unused chapels and churches into schools for the salvation of the people and the Nation”.
My Personal Recollections
As the 40th Anniversary Events of St Spyridon College come to an end, the Head of College, Mrs Amelia Katsogiannis, has kindly invited me to write an article reflecting on my memories of what it was like in the years leading up to the establishment of our Parish’s ‘flagship’ College.
These are my recollections. Occasionally, I will have to refer to myself in the first person. I am certain that my article will be understood as such.
Priorities as a young priest
This is a challenging task. I have never returned to my memory bank to recall and relive the intensity of the emotions and the enormous pressure and responsibility of steering the Parish down the path of establishing a full-time Greek Orthodox Church School in New South Wales.
When I arrived at St Spyridon Parish as a 24-year-old Priest, I found a strong, progressive and established Community. I walked into a Parish that was prepared to look to the future. I inherited the work of the Founding Priest Father Elias Economou of blessed memory, a pioneer of the Church of New Zealand and a pioneer of St Spyridon Parish in Sydney. It was tragic that Father Elias passed away before I had the chance to serve with him.
Always respectful of Father Elias’s enormous legacy, paramount to my ministry at St Spyridon Church from 1975, was the priority of connecting our Children and Youth to Orthodoxy by addressing the complex needs of young people through Education and Sport. It was a direct approach to reaching the hearts of our future generations.
The early years – a Soccer Competition for our Greek Schools
This love of Children and Youth manifested itself in a very practical way just three months into being appointed to St Spyridon Parish.
In 1976, I organised an internal Greek Schools Soccer Competition, the Schools that Father Elias and the Parish Committee had established. It sounds simple, but it takes love and vision to materialise such an idea. Over 100 boys who would not have been allowed by their parents to play soccer on a Saturday but for their parental trust in the name of the Church formed our internal Competition. I organised the sports gear to be worn by each of the 8 Greek Schools and designed a familiar iron-on emblem for all our teams.
On the field, every Saturday at Paine Reserve, the competition could only have proceeded with the assistance of the parents since I was busy with Weddings and Baptisms every Saturday afternoon. The parents set up the nets and organised drinks and oranges for the players.
Soon, our good players were being poached by local soccer clubs, which necessitated our entering the Southern and Eastern Football Competition.
After three phases of development, today it has evolved into the very successful “South East Eagles Football Club” with the assistance and guidance of Mr Con Pavlou and other dedicated volunteers for over 40 years.
However, without the initial core of 100 boys, there would be no St Spyridon Soccer Club, and our boys would have joined other clubs in due course.
This was not about Soccer but about touching the hearts of our children with the love of the Church.
An injustice avoided
God has His way of opening pathways to worthwhile missions. So it was that, in 1978, an unexpected decision by a local Roman Catholic school, in hindsight, would herald my interest in education.
Unbelievably, Greek Orthodox girls at this particular school were told, in Year 11, that they would have to find another school to complete their Year 12 studies because there were now Roman Catholic girls lining up for enrolment. According to the school’s policy, Roman Catholic girls were entitled to priority (that is the school’s absolute right), whilst Greek Orthodox were fourth down the list.
Understandably, a strong delegation of parents came to St Spyridon Church and strongly vocalised their distress. I assured them that there was no way our Greek Orthodox girls would be treated that way.
So, I set up a meeting with the school’s principal and questioned the “fairness” of such a decision. When reminded that these girls had kept the school viable by paying fees for twelve years since kindy, then from year 7, the Principal assured me that the decision would be reversed. However, she left me with a sharp, parting remark: “My advice to you is to start your own school.”
Whatever we might say, it was a rewarding duty “to go in to bat” for our girls. It was pleasing that a compromise was found. As for the Principal’s parting comment, I thought to myself,
“Yeah, sure, we’re still paying off the huge loans on our new St Spyridon Church, plus we don’t have the wealth or the resources that you do.” But the seed had been planted in my heart.
“Go and start your own school”
The charge “go and start your school”, towards the end of 1978, had played heavily on my mind. By the end of the year, the then still canonical Father Ierotheos Kourtessis of St John the Baptist Parish at North Carlton in Melbourne unexpectedly announced the commencement of his School, St John’s College, in February 1979.
I called Father Kourtessis immediately and was greatly encouraged by his advice. “Don’t feel daunted. We have secured State and Federal funding. Buy lots of small buses and bus the students in from everywhere.” Ok, I thought to myself, that precedent speaks volumes.
“Do your homework”
Vivid in my memory is raising the suggestion of establishing a full-time school at a Parish Committee meeting in late 1978 during the Presidency of Mr Venedictos Livissianis. I was surrounded by a group of good ‘tough’ men who were familiar with making big decisions because they had a proven record. Just a few years earlier, they had overseen the construction of the magnificent “new” Church of St Spyridon, a major feat in anyone’s estimation.
None of these men had the opportunity of gaining an education higher than secondary school. But they were ‘gutsy: sharp-minded, and prepared to make big decisions for the broader good of our community. I got an unceremonious cold shoulder at my proposal and was told that a school had always been a dream of the Parish and, indeed, was in the Constitution, even the establishment of a university. In any event, I was told by the Parish Committee to “go and do my homework”.
The task ahead, all of a sudden, became even more daunting. I had to remain confident and strong-minded within myself in order to eventually convince the Parish Committee of the requirements and merits of establishing what would come to be known as ‘St Spyridon College’.
The directive “do your homework” gave me enough hope to keep my enthusiasm and vision dynamically focused through much prayer. Firstly, I informed my Ecclesiastical Head at the time, Archbishop Stylianos, of my blessed memory of the research I was about to commence, and he gave me his blessing and support.
The focus of my strategy was to consult Federal, State and Local Government authorities whose responses were most encouraging.
However, a critical turning point in my research was meeting with the Catholic Education Office at the Blackfriars building in Chippendale. I was given a handbook on establishing a school and was offered the resources of the CEO to assist in any way possible.
“Let’s Support our Priest”
In late 1979, by God’s grace, I presented my proposal with a detailed strategy, to the Parish Committee, under President Mr Venedictos Livissianis. My proposal on establishing St Spyridon College, this time around, was received with a mixture of caution and openness. A very young priest surrounded by dedicated men with a proven track record in business. But, through the inspiration of St Spyridon the Wonderworker, I was determined to move the parish forward through a mission in Education.
The Parish Executive, namely Parish Secretary Mr George Pappas, Mr Socrates Socratous, Mr Steve Coudounaris and Mr Bill Carayannis, led the charge of enthusiasm by supporting this young priest’s vision and encouraged the members of the Parish Committee to support my case and to move it forward. It was unanimously accepted, and from that moment on, it became a focused and courageous Team effort. These men would be the most dynamic Team anyone could have ever hoped for—pragmatic, perceptive men of the Church.
One Parish – One Team
On St Spyridon’s Feast Day, 12th December 1980, under President Mr George Pappas, we held the public launching of the concept of the School in the Parish Hall, and in the presence of His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos who unveiled the first draft building option (drawn by architect Mr Peter Mayson). Our Parishioners approved by extended applause.
Archbishop Stylianos of blessed memory took the initiative of writing to the Federal Government informing the Prime Minister, the Hon Bob Hawke, that we were establishing St Spyridon College in Sydney, seeking his government’s support in every aspect. The Archbishop’s signature would be more significant than all our efforts. The Prime Minister’s positive response was like “wind beneath our wings”.
On 28th May 1981, the Parish applied to the then ‘Schools Commission’ seeking approval to establish ‘St Spyridon College’ and qualification for funding. This was forthcoming on 9th November 1982. We thanked God for this breakthrough as our united team effort succeeded.
Convincing the Parents
The serious task ahead was convincing parents that this new Greek Orthodox Day School was worthy of their children’s education.
At the same time, there was open opposition to the concept by sections of the Greek media, the NSW Teachers’ Federation, some Greek Associations and some members of Parliament who were determined not to let “the Greeks” start a school.
This is what we faced. But these challenges only strengthened our resolve. Door by door, phone by phone, some intense advertising in supportive newspapers and stirring calls for enrolment from the Church pulpit ensured growing interest in our yet-to-commence school.
Furthermore, whenever I spoke to the congregation about enrolling their children and grandchildren at St Spyridon College, I invariably noticed a gaze of indifference, even dismissal, from our people towards the concept. To remain positive and enthused when the eyes of your people are saying, “We don’t know if this is going to work”, took courage, not only from myself but also from the decisive Parish Committee that had “its eyes on the prize”.
Board of Governors
The Board of Governors, appointed on 17th November 1981 by the Parish Committee, was a formidable and talented mix of academics, educators and dynamic business people. The inaugural Chairman of the Board was Mr Michael Zantiotis, with members Professor Manuel Aroney, Dr Maria Tenezakis, Miss Paula Masselos, Mr Angelo Karantonis, Mrs Ioulitta Anthony, Mr George Messaris, Mr Cary Criticos, Mr George Pappas, Mr Stelios Coudounaris, Mr Manuel Cassimatis, Mr George Barbouttis and myself.
With the Board’s agreement, I made a draft submission of a number of basic components for a school emblem that would reflect the Orthodox and Hellenic ethos of our School. They were the wreath, the flame, the Cross and the school motto “Αιέν Αριστεύειν”. These components were discussed and agreed upon by the Board.
To finalise the school logo, I contacted graphic designer Mrs Mary Socratous (nee Kolotas), who produced the professional version of the emblem.
As there was now less than a year before the opening of the School, designing and producing a school uniform were essential. The Board’s general view was that the school uniform should preferably be blue with a white logo, thus reflecting the Hellenic heritage. I turned to fashion buyer Mrs Roslyn Kazacos (nee Kapsalis), who designed the school uniform and proposed the ‘1982 French navy blue as the school’s primary colour.
In the absence yet of a Principal, these were approved in principle by the Board.
Miss Mary Rayias – Founding Principal of St Spyridon College
After extensive advertising in mainstream and Greek newspapers in early 1982, a young Miss Mary Rayias (later to marry Mr Peter Hamer), a Senior Executive Teacher at the populous Holy Cross College in Ryde, was appointed the Founding Principal of St Spyridon College on 27th July 1982 and applied herself immediately with enthusiasm and zeal.
She adopted the emblem and approved the school uniform, with some modifications, so that production could commence and the wheels of St Spyridon College could be set in motion.
Together with myself, the Parish Committee and the Board of Governors, Miss Rayias (Hamer) secured school registration from the State government and funding from the State and Federal governments, as funding could only come through the Principal.
Preparing for the first day of St Spyridon College
Work began on the renovation of the “old” church which already housed three classrooms used by the Greek Language School since 1974. All the wooden windows of the “old” church were replaced with aluminium, manufactured and donated by the late Mr Con Micos, who also enrolled his youngest son at the College. The interior design was drawn up by architect Mr Michael Avramidis, who would go on to design many buildings for the School in the future without payment. He would be recognised as a Great Benefactor several years later.
Through God’s providence, on 7th February 1983, 46 children, comprising one stream of Kindergarten, year one and year 2, heralded the beginning of a new era.
The Parish of St Spyridon had given birth to the first full-time school in New South Wales. St Spyridon College was now a living reality and a reflection of our Faith and our Heritage.
When the Bell Rang for the First Time
When an emotional but confident Miss Mary Rayias rang the school bell for the first time, the 46 children were lined up in the small playground at the rear of the “old” church, and the parents and the Board with Foundation Chairman Mr Angelo Karantonis watched in awe.
This was more than a historic day. This was a miracle unfolding before our very eyes.
We watched, almost in disbelief, and we cried out of relief and joy. We gazed and we prayed silently that God sustain our School and help us fulfil the ethos that we treasure. We were witnessing God’s invisible Hand at work.
However, the foundations of St Spyridon College were already dynamically supported by the heroic parents of our first cohort of children because they accepted the priest’s call and placed their trust in the competence of St Spyridon Parish. These parents “took a huge risk” but had faith. Their contribution is unique and monumental.
From then on, enrolments started to accumulate, which soon necessitated the construction of a new classroom block as we faced the future with growing confidence.
The College grew exponentially with Mrs Mary Hamer as the Founding Principal and the Board of Governors in collaboration with the Parish Committee.
Mrs Mary Hamer would go on to lead St Spyridon College for 30 solid years, taking the School from strength to strength and from success to success. She is a legend in her own right.
Would There be a High School?
In 1984, Parish President Mr Socrates Socratous created the first organised Parish Office. They employed Mrs Christina Tsaconas as a part-time worker responsible for the bookkeeping and filing of all correspondence and budgetary matters. She would become Parish Executive Officer and serve the Parish and College for 37 years, holding responsibility, amongst other things, for per capita and capital grants.
Before this, however, just a year after the school commenced, the glaring question would be sensed by all of us. Would there be a high school, and if so, where would it be located? We looked at a site on Gardeners Road, opposite Eastern Avenue, neighbouring the Lakes Golf Club but it was deemed too small for the requirements of a secondary school.
Was it a Man or was it an Angel?
Then, what to me is a miracle occurred when we were searching for a site. As I was walking along Maroubra Road near Maroubra Junction, a man stopped me and asked, “are you Father Steven from the Greek Church?”. “Yes, I am.” “Well, you should be aware that a sizeable area of Crown Land further up from Duffy’s Corner in Maroubra South has been subdivided for housing, but it hasn’t passed through parliament yet. It’s the only land remaining for your school, but you need to hurry up.” I was listening to him in total amazement and thanked him profusely. I was so overcome with joy that I didn’t even ask him his name. He walked away. How did he know we were looking for land? Who was this man? Was it a man? Was it an angel in disguise? I am not certain to this day. If it was a real person, I wish he would make himself known to us.
I firstly confirmed that the information was correct, then I contacted the Hon Takis Kaldis MLC and told him what I was just told by the stranger. He immediately perceived the dimensions of this revelation and said “we need to see the Premier as soon as possible”. Indeed, that is why I had turned to him.
The Parish Committee was overjoyed upon learning of this revelation and was relieved at the prospect of the secondary school proceeding.
Premier Neville Wran – Provision of Land
On 6th December 1984, a Parish delegation led by Parish President Mr George Pappas with members of the Executive, the Chairman of the Board Mr Angelo Karantonis and myself was before the Premier, the Hon Neville Wran. The Political delegation was led by Hon Takis Kaldis, accompanied by the Hon. Laurie Brereton, Minister for Public Works, Ports and Roads and the Hon Bob Carr, Minister for Planning and the Environment.
Premier Neville Wran expressed his confidence in securing a positive outcome for the College. He did not hesitate to communicate with the relevant Ministers. Within 10 months, a parcel of 2 hectares from the sudivision was set aside for St Spyridon College fronting Anzac Parade.
On the 15th July 1975, Premier Neville Wran met His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos, myself, the Parish Committee and the Board of Governors at the yet uncleared, previously uninhabited, ‘high school’ site at South Maroubra for an official ‘handover’. Once again, we were overwhelmed that this would not have been possible without God’s mighty hand.
Following the onsite meeting, the official party moved to a packed St Spyridon Parish Hall back at Kingsford, where Premier Wran was welcomed enthusiastically. There, he assured the gathering of his government’s ongoing support, much to the enthusiastic response of our people. He announced that an area of 2 hectares with frontage on Anzac Parade had been secured for St Spyridon College at an annual lease commencing from $15,000 and increasing to $75,000 by the fifth year. The Parish could feel free to purchase the land outright at any stage.
It was a historic day in every sense. Premier Wran would retire not long after that, and the St Spyridon College folder would be forwarded to the incoming Premier Hon Barrie Unsworth, who would prove to be a man of his word in supporting the Parish’s mission in education.
Premier Barrie Unsworth – Turning the First Sod
Soon after his election, Premier Barrie Unsworth received a Parish delegation requesting to convert the Special Lease to an outright purchase. The Premier ordered an independent valuation, which came in at $700,000. The Parish entered into the outright purchase, and the land was now firmly under the ownership of St Spyridon Parish.
Premier Unsworth was invited by the Parish to turn the first sod at the Groundbreaking Ceremony which was blessed by His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos on Sunday 14th December 1986 onsite in the presence of the Parish President Mr George Pappas and the Parish Committee, the Chairman of the Board Mr Bill Vassaleu and the Board of Governors, the Hon Takis Kaldis, the Hon Laurie Brereton and the Hon Bob Carr, Mr Ron Hoenig Mayor of the City of Botany Bay, the Parents and Friends Association and many parishioners.
What followed was an unforgettable “Olympic Flame” ceremony, the brainchild of Mr Peter Kepreotes a member of the Board of Governors. The Premier and Miss Estelle Kepreotes lit the “Olympic” torch from a concave solar dish, not unlike the ceremony in Ancient Olympia.
From there, the Grecian Girls commenced a Torch Relay run by the St Spyridon Soccer Club players from corner to corner, concluding at the Primary School grounds in Kingsford.
In the meantime, the official party had returned to the Primary School site for a true Greek Glendi put on by the Parish. Not long after, the Flame arrived at Kingsford and was presented to hundreds of parishioners.
Mr Andrew Anthony sang “Aien Aristevein” which he composed and dedicated to St Spyridon College. To this day, it remains a song that captures the spirit of St Spyridon’s College.
The Primary School presented Greek Dances, bilingual songs and a play dedicated to Australia. Everyone indulged in lunch whilst Mr George Coulits (Coulitsánoglou) provided music with his famous «Nea Asteria” band. The Philoptochos served fresh loukoumádes to everyone, and the Parish Committee was “hands on” all afternoon. It was a real “team St Spyridon” day to be remembered.
The Parish had already expended $2 million purchasing neighbouring properties at Kingsford to expand the Primary School. Looking forward, more than bare land alone would be needed to provide education for high school students. It would require several million dollars to construct new buildings. So, the building appeal for assistance was launched.
The Priest in any parish is a respected leader whom the people trust with donations of icons, objects or money. It would be the same with this new challenging project. I asked the Parish Committee for a gauge of what a classroom might cost. They set some reasonable targets which were ‘achievable’.
A dear friend, Mr Con Payne (Panourgos), came forward with a donation of $250,000 simply because I “had visited him in the hospital during my rounds two years earlier”.
Historically, this donation was significant in many ways. It was a vote of confidence in the concept of Greek Orthodox education. It was a vote of confidence in St Spyridon College. It also provided a strong example to the community.
Another dear acquaintance who would spend $1,000 on raffle tickets without fail at every parish function, Mr Ian Spies, together with his wife Marie of Andrew Kennedy Funerals, agreed to match the first donation with a pledge of $250,000.
Also, other dear friends, Mr Jim and Mrs Helen Raptis of the Gold Coast, over and above their frequent donations to Parish, donated $100,000 for the College.
The Philoptochos Ladies’ Auxiliary, which, from the beginning of the Parish’s history, was a stalwart of support, sponsored the construction of the Library with a further $150,000.
I also approached ten friends and businessmen who generously committed to $50,000 per classroom at that time. In addition, four acquaintances of the Parish Committee also donated $50,000 each. Furthermore, the girls who participated in the St Spyridon Parish Charity Queen Competition, won by the young Miss Cathy Stavrou, raised more than $85,000.
Then, through Mr Peter Souleles and, more recently, myself, Mr Chris Panas donated his home in Kingsford to the Parish and was declared a Great Benefactor.
With tax deductibility through the Building Fund, the joint effort raised over $2 million, which would fall short of the $4 million required to build the new High School.
Deputy Prime Minister Lionel Bowen and Prime Minister Bob Hawke Delivered on Time
With Federal Elections just around the corner, a Parish delegation and I visited the local Federal Member and Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon. Lionel Bowen, to seek a commitment for a capital grant from the Prime Minister, the Hon. Bob Hawke.
President George Pappas, Mr Socrates Socratous, Mr Stelios Coudounaris, and I were present. After some very pragmatic discussion, I thought, “If you don’t put pressure on now for a commitment before the elections, you’ve let the College down”. I put the Deputy Prime Minister (a true gentleman of the political sphere) into a very tight corner. I felt terrible because we had a very strong personal friendship. He was upset by the pressure but didn’t commit to any promises. However, just days before the elections, Prime Minister Bob Hawke sent us a telegram committing to a pledge of $1.45 million.
After winning the elections, Prime Minister Hawke sent the decision to the Federal Minister for Education Senator, Hon. Susan Ryan, who directed the matter through the appropriate channels and officially approved the grant.
However, would there be enough time to build the permanent buildings before the arrival of the first students in February 1988?
Mr Nicholas Kyriacos – Founding Headmaster of the High School
After extensive advertising, Mr Nicholas Kyriacos was appointed Founding Headmaster of St Spyridon College High School on 13th October 1987, just three months from the beginning of the new school year.
An astute educationist with a love for literature, Mr Kyriacos had taught at a prestigious bilingual Greek Orthodox School in Johannesburg, South Africa, before becoming English Coordinator at two schools, the latest being Marist Brothers, Pagewood.
With limited time ahead of him, Mr Kyriakos applied himself with great motivation and belief in the philosophy of St Spyridon College.
He worked tirelessly to interview staff for teaching positions and to ensure the best educational environment for the students.
No Buildings in Sight
Since the construction of the new school would be completed after the commencement of the new year, the Parish decided to purchase demountable buildings at a cost of half a million dollars. They would be affectionately called “the sheds”.
The first day of school was scheduled for Monday 8th February 1988. However, the preparation of the ground and the positioning of concrete stumps occurred on 17th November 1987, whilst the demountable classrooms arrived in 22 sections. They were not placed until 14th January 1988, just three weeks before opening day.
The Parish Committee, the parents and a volunteer builder, Mr Andonis Stavrou, formed working bees to lay the pavers in between the two wings of demountables. It was a real ‘family’ effort.
The ordering of the demountables and their positioning was an outstanding achievement of timing and organisation by the Parish Administration.
The ‘High School’ Reaches day One
A very committed and confident Headmaster, Mr Nicholas Kyriacos, called the 43 pioneer students, two streams of year 7, the Deputy Headmistress, Miss Amelia Kollias (Katsogiannis) and the first cohort of teachers to the first assembly. It was an overcast day on Monday, 8th February 1988, and seeing the students in pullovers was strange.
At the first school assembly, Headmaster Mr Kyriacos gave a stirring welcome and stated his vision for the School whilst Parish President Mr Socrates Socratous spoke on behalf of the Parish, as did I.
Mr Nicholas Kyriacos would remain Headmaster of the High School from 1987 to 1998 with exceptional results at the HSC.
His contribution to the founding of St Spyridon College High School is monumental and sets the highest academic standards that would carry the school into the future.
Stage 1 of the “Permanent” Buildings Would Rise from… the “Mud”
In the meantime, Prime Minister Bob Hawke, Premier Barrie Unsworth and our Great Benefactors greatly encouraged the Parish Committee.
1988 might have been a year of celebration for the Bicentenary of the Nation. Still, it was also a year of tight fiscal policy from Canberra and one of the wettest years on record with an incredible volume of rainfall.
Construction of the Stage 1 permanent buildings and administration block was delayed by six months.
Nonetheless, the Foundation Stone was laid and blessed by His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos of blessed memory on 8th September 1988 in the presence of the Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon Lionel Bowen, Parish President Socrates Socratous, Chairman of the Board of Governors Dr Thomas Savoulis, political representatives, parishioners and the students of both campuses.
The official opening of ‘A Block’ occurred on a cold wintry Saturday, 10th June 1989. Archbishop Stylianos of blessed memory conducted the Blessing Service, which was officially opened by the Deputy Prime Minister and Attorney General, the Hon Lionel Bowen, in the presence of the Minister for Education, the Hon Jeanette McHugh, Parish President Mr Socrates Socratous, Chairman of the Board of Governors Dr Thomas Savoulis, the Parish Priests Father Steven Scoutas and Father Nicholas Bozikis and hundreds of parishioners.
On this day, every Great Benefactor was presented with a gold logo of the College and a gold key with which they were invited to open the Wing or the Classroom bearing their name. It was such an exciting and rewarding day.
The students entered their new classrooms excitedly with their Headmaster, Mr Nicholas Kyriacos and their teachers. The memory of “the sheds” would remain a proud part of our history.
Without God’s Providence and Grace, none of what was achieved could come to fruition.
The ‘actions’ of St Spyridon the Wonderworker behind the scenes are recorded in the Mind of the Church as real and tangible.
The St Spyridon Parish ‘Team’ has achieved great things for the common good and the Glory of God. The Parish continues to work in unison to provide excellence for our College and our Parish under the dedicated leadership of the current Parish President, Mr Elias Economou and the Parish Council.
The greatest reward for all this work and sacrifice is knowing that our students learn about the Orthodox Faith and the Hellenic Ideals in a safe and secure environment and are free to pursue their strengths and ambitions.
They know that the school’s philosophy, “Aien Aristévein” and “Forever Excelling”, goes beyond its bounds and continues throughout life.
They know they are being prepared to take their place in a global community, strengthened in mind, body and soul by the love of the Church and the care of their College.
Seeing the children of our past students taking their place at St Spyridon College, with former students also going on to become teachers at our School, is the highest accolade and reward.
Through the paternal love and manifold support of His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia, St Spyridon College continues to focus on quality education combined with an emphasis on the Orthodox Faith and the Hellenic Ideals.
This is not intended as a History but as my Recollections of the Initial Phases of our College – Primary and Secondary.
There are many chapters to be written by others and will appear in due course, namely regarding Heads of College, Deputy Heads and Milestones of the College. May God bless all who have ever been involved with the history of St Spyridon College.
Father Steven Scoutas