Lake Forest is home to a strong Greek community. We have a Greek Orthodox church just down the street. It is therefore fitting that LFHS has a club to share this Greek culture and traditions with the rest of the community.
The Hellenic Club, more commonly known as the Greek Club, was founded last year. When LFHS English teacher Melissa Halkias was approached with the idea of the Hellenic Club last fall, she was excited for the opportunity.
“I think (the Hellenic Club) is a really cool opportunity for all types of students to meet and talk to each other and learn about their culture and heritage,” Halkias said.
The Hellenic Club is now an official after-school program offered by LFHS, after being a pilot club last year. What really sets the club apart from other clubs is the diversity of the people who attend.
“My favorite thing about the Greek club is the mix of people and how everyone comes together,” said senior and club member Yianni Koliatsis.
Despite the name “Greek Club,” you don’t have to be Greek to join. In fact, according to Halkias, the best thing about the Hellenic Club is that not everyone is Greek.
“What’s really cool is that we have students who are not Greek and who don’t know anything about the Greek language or culture. Anyone can come to a Greek club. We really encourage that and we love seeing that,” Halkias said.
This mix of Greeks and non-Greeks helps create a sense of community and celebration of Greek culture that attracts both people who know a lot about Greek culture and those who don’t. Passionate Greeks can see how their families can celebrate or continue certain traditions and learn from each other. On the other hand, people who are not Greek always like to come because they are excited to discover new places and new people.
“I think it’s an added pleasure to see Greek students being proud of their culture and background and sharing it with other people who may not know anything about it,” Halkias said.
Sharing traditions and learning about Greek culture was junior Noel Demetrio’s main inspiration for starting the club last fall. Demetrio, who has visited Greece several times and was even homeschooled there for a short time, is very proud of his heritage and loves its culture.
“My grandparents taught me to speak Greek and how much they loved their faith, their language, their history and their homeland. I felt it was my moral obligation to preserve their rich and beautiful history and traditions. I wanted to share the beauty of this rich culture with everyone at LFHS,” Demetrio said.
The Hellenic Club offers many of these Greek activities and traditions at its monthly meetings such as Greek dancing, Orthodox Easter customs, celebrating holidays and learning about Greek Independence Day.
“We’re looking for more hands-on activities that get people up and moving, especially since it’s the end of the school day, we want something more lively,” Halkias said.
These activities have proven extremely popular and have helped to foster the sharing of culture that is such an important part of the Hellenic Club.
“My favorite event last year would have to be our Greek dance day. Everyone learned to dance and those who knew helped those who didn’t. It was an overall fun event,” Koliatsis said.
The Hellenic Club meets on the first Wednesday of each month. Their next meeting will be on October 4.
“I look forward to participating in more fun events the group has and maybe even school trips as a club,” Koliatsis said.
Demetrio has ambitious plans for the club and is even considering adding a philanthropic aspect.
“I want the club to start serving those who struggle in Greece. Perhaps by sponsoring trees to help rebuild the damage caused by the fires in Greece,” Demetrio said. “My favorite part of what it means to be Greek is always giving back. Except no more of that!
This article was updated Friday afternoon to correct an error regarding Ms. Halkias’s legacy. In fact, she is Greek. The Forest Scout regrets the mistake.