This February 18, a gala will take place to benefit Pythagoras Children’s Academy, one of Chicago’s Greek Orthodox Parochial Day Schools.
History of Pythagoras Children’s Academy
The seeds of Pythagoras Children’s Academy (PCA) were planted in 1998, when a day school class was offered at The Greek Orthodox Church of St. Demetrios in Elmhurst, IL as a satellite location for Plato Academy. What began as a single multi-age class of students from three years-old through first grade, is now a flourishing Greek Orthodox parochial elementary school, offering classes from preschool through fifth grade.
Since the church did not previously have a day school, the satellite program was approved for the 1997-1998 school year. It was an exciting endeavor to operate a school under the auspices of the church, so that children could advance their education and learn Greek, while being immersed in the Hellenic Heritage and receive instruction in the Orthodox Faith.
At the end of that school year, the program was terminated due to financial constraints. Parents and parishioners petitioned the Parish Council to reconsider. A special general assembly meeting was convened to discuss the fate of the program. The community voted to proceed with the establishment of a new day school within the community of St. Demetrios.
The Parish Council elected John Hilaris to lead the effort. A dedicated team, which also included Eleni Hasapis, Toula Hilaris, Maria Kaldis, Kiki Kanakaris, Peter Kanakaris, and Kiki Karabelas, worked diligently to complete the necessary groundwork to found the school.
Originally called Pythagoras Day School, PCA opened its doors in September 1998, with 12 students. Kiki Kanakaris served as the school’s first director, and John Hilaris as the first School Board President. Dina Jason, who had been part of the satellite program, was appointed the very first teacher of the fledgling program.
Pythagoras Children’s Academy today
PCA continues to grow. Last year, they realized a longheld dream of offering fifth grade class, to round out the program for a smooth transition to middle school. The school celebrated its first 5th grade graduates last May. The PCA is continually evolving, and remains steadfast in its mission to provide students the highest quality education rooted in Hellenism and Orthodoxy.
On par with State Standards
Several years ago, PCA adopted Common Core, and aligned its curriculum to State Standards. Last year, they adopted a new ELA program, Fundamentals by Schoolwide. It provides units of study that develop, enhance, and expand student’s skills in reading and writing. This year, they’ve incorporated Science and Social Studies Interactive Notebooks, plus Math Expressions, both aligned with State Standards. Director Dina Jason said that the curriculum is continually reviewed and updated.
“We’re preparing our students for college and career readiness. We’re building the foundation for their future success.”
1:1 Technology at PCA
PCA is at the forefront in computer-based learning. All 1st through 5th grades are equipped with Chromebooks on a 1:1 basis. Classroom utilize SmartBoards or interactive whiteboards. Students use many online learning enhancements, such as IXL, Khan Academy, Xtra Math, and Spelling City. All students in K-5 participate in MAP and Aimsweb assessments to help differentiate instruction and create more personalized learning goals.
Last year, the 4th and 5th grade students participated for the first time in the Hellenic Bar Association Law Day Essay. Two PCA students were among the winners, and were invited to read their essays in Judge Charles Kocoras’ courtroom followed by a visit in his chambers.
Orthodox faith and Hellenic heritage
PCA strives to uphold the values of faith, family, and education. In order to achieve this, they set their educational standards high, and do this while entrenching the students in their Orthodox faith and Hellenic heritage.
Here, Greek language education begins in preschool. All students participate in Greek language classes and also learn about Greek history, heritage, and culture. They also received Orthodox education. Students attend church on designated feast days, and participate in parish life.
Dina reiterated the importance of Greek Orthodox parochial schools like PCA.
“Each and every day, our students learn about and celebrate our beloved Orthodox faith and our rich cultural heritage. We’ve planted the seeds for the future of Orthodoxy and Hellenism, and we are sowing those seeds each and every day. We embrace our history and cultivate pride in our Hellenism. We instill a love and faith in Christ. We are educating tomorrow’s leaders. These children will carry the torch for Orthodoxy and Hellenism. The future of our parishes, of our cultural heritage, is in schools like PCA.”
For a well-rounded experience, beginning in Kindergarten, students participate in specials, such as art, music, and physical education. This year, students have had the opportunity to participate in Junior Choir, and have chanted the Liturgy on Sundays.
Serving Greek-American youth with pride
Continually striving for excellence and always evolving to best serve student needs are lofty goals indeed. School Board President Harry Fournier elaborated.
“It is with pride that we provide Greek-American youth with a high-quality cultural, spiritual, and educational foundation. It’s our duty and our privilege to continue to educate and guide our young Greek-Americans, and instill in them a love for their culture and faith. PCA provides all of this things, in a loving and nurturing setting. We’ll continue to raise our standards, and offer our students the very best we possibly can. It’s a priority for the future of Orthodoxy and Hellenism in America.”
Celebrate Pythagoras Children’s Academy at their 4th annual gala, February 18 at Fountain Blue Banquets in Des Plaines. Community support is needed to ensure schools like PCA continue to thrive. It’s for the future of our community.
WindyCity Greek is a media sponsor for Pythagoras Children’s Academy’s 4th annual gala
Updated: This event has already taken place.