Dr. Anastasios Koularmanis, Director of the Department of Greek Education, will publish a series of articles focused on Greek education, with a particular focus on several day schools.
The Saint Demetrios Community of Jamaica, a strong institution serving the Greek-American community for over 88 years, bid a heartfelt farewell as it concluded the remarkable journey of the Saint Demetrios Day School of Jamaica. Spanning from 1966 to 2013, the school’s legacy is etched in the hearts of the generations it nurtured, embodying a commitment to education and cultural preservation.
The roots of the St. Demetrios community date back to a pivotal moment in 1927, when the St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church of Jamaica was erected. Its inaugural service on October 26, 1927 coincided with the birthday of their revered patron saint, Saint Demetrios, marking the creation of a spiritual refuge for Greek immigrants transitioning from Manhattan to Jamaica, Queens.
Following the establishment of the Church, a deep-seated desire emerged among community members to cultivate a sense of Hellenic identity among their children. The challenge of limited space within the church premises led to the creation of various annexes spread across different sites. In the mid-1950s, a new chapter opened with the construction of the current Saint-Démétrios Church at 84-35 152nd Street, with an educational wing. This transformational site was inaugurated on April 8, 1965.
In 1962, the momentum continued with the rise of the afternoon school, with five additional annexes introduced in the South Ozone Park, Howard Beach, Cyprus Hills and East New York areas. The community’s dedication peaked in 1965, with an impressive network of 12 afternoon schools across Queens and Long Island.
The hallmark of this educational journey arrived in 1966 with the establishment of the Jamaica Day School, a labor of love that came to life through the collaborative efforts of visionaries like Paul Prodromides, Mimis Therry, George Tzouros and Paul Demas, the president of the community. Although it originally spanned kindergarten through eleventh grade, logistical challenges prompted the school to focus on kindergarten through ninth grade.
In 1981, a beacon of higher education was illuminated when the high school was named in honor of Archbishop Iakovos, a revered spiritual leader with an illustrious 37-year tenure serving the Greek-American community. The prestigious metropolitan building has become the home of this institution of higher education.
The 2012-2013 school year marked a poignant moment as it marked the closure of the Day School, a moment of reflection on 47 years of unwavering dedication. With an enrollment of 143 students, the school has continued to pursue its mission of holistic education, proudly declaring on its
webpage: “St. Demetrios Jamaica Day School is a small, vibrant parish school located in Jamaica, Queens, educating children since 1967. We offer preschool for children ages 3, free half-day UPK for children aged 4. years born in 2008. We offer grades K-8 and are fully accredited, following the curriculum based on New York State standards. Our program also includes extracurricular activities such as band, art, Greek dancing, basketball, and an after-school homework club.
Today, the Saint Démétrios community perseveres in its commitment to education and cultural enrichment, by offering its parishioners an afternoon program with free classes. The mission of St. Demetrios Greek Afternoon School remains steadfast: to systematically transmit the modern Greek language, the Orthodox Christian faith, and the rich history and culture of the Greek people. As the Jamaica Day School chapter closes, the torch of knowledge and cultural heritage is carried, ensuring the vibrant legacy of the Saint Demetrios community for generations to come.
Photos: Saint Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church