The last few days of January weren't very fun at all. The President of our executive board, the person without whom we would really have no school, passed away last Friday. He was a good man, a kind man, and one who really wanted to ensure the Greek culture would continue to live on in the lives of the new generation of Greek American kids. Classes were cancelled on Tuesday so we could all attend the funeral. Personally I don't speak Greek. Never has the phrase, "It's Greek to me!" meant more. I wasn't able to go to the wake but I did drive all the way up to the Greek Monastery in Pleasant Prairie, WI for the funeral mass. Unlike Greek Orthodox masses that are three hours long - with no singing (or chanting) - the funeral mass was only an hour. The nuns from the monastery lent their voices in a call-answer kind of way that was very soothing - almost, but didn't, put me to sleep. I'm sure it was beautiful but I truly didn't understand anything they were saying. I found out later that I wasn't the only one and that those who did catch anything said it was a discussion St. Peter was having with the newly deceased at the gates of heaven. We walked to the cemetery and then to the community center where we were treated to a feast of salmon, oregano potatoes, pastichio (made with tuna), beans (huge and delicious), homemade bread and kiropita, let's just say, if you left hungry you were a fool! After lunch people stood up and gave speeches. Again I could only understand half of the speeches, but they were read with emotion and I could tell the ones I didn't understand were very good and important.
The end of January was host to the science fair and a field trip to the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church. My kids, along with the first graders and the upper grades, sang beautifully. I was very proud of them - and their ability to sit still for two hours of service. I treated them to recess outdoors.
So I enter February with a new energy (though I physically don't feel it today) and a renewed drive to make sure to live up to the goal that our former President of the executive board had for our kids. I will do all that I can within my power to ensure that my students live up to the Axios pledge and continue to live up to their heritage.