Third Annual Greek Independence Day Program
at St. John's University

by Marla Filippatos

On Thursday evening, February 22, 2007, members of the Greek community, students, and faculty gathered to honor St. John’s University’s Third Annual Greek Independence Day Program. The university's Council Hall was radiantly dressed. Heavenly blue and white colored flags decorated every inch of the wall. The micro phoned exclamation of “Zito i Ellada!” was heard throughout the hall. The night proved to be a successful joint effort of the Modern Greek Language and Literature Program of St. John’s University, the St. John’s Greek Club, and Geros Tou Morea NY Chapter #1 of the Pan Arcadian Federation of America. One hundred fifty persons attended.

A stirring lecture concerning Greek independence was given, telling how Greeks attained their freedom after a 400-year struggle against the Ottoman Turks. Heroes such as Theodore Kolokotronis made Greek freedom and independence possible. The boldness, courage, heart, and strength that Greek ancestors put into fighting for their freedom were remembered. Proudly claiming descent from Kolokoronis, members of the Pan Arcadian Federation of America generously contributed to the program by providing a grant for expenses. Sir H. James S. Maine said “Except for the blind forces of nature, nothing moves in the world which is not Greek in origin.”

[Photo right: Master Antonis Loupakis (5th from left) with son (6th from left) receiving awards with Dr. John G. Siolas (left toright) moderators Spiros Kostaras, Irene Zouroudis, Haroula Scoufaras, Yvonne Cassimatis and Prof. Catherine Tsounis. All photos by Marla Filippatos.]

Over the span of the night, several people and organizations were honored. The Chian Federation awarded a scholarship to Antonios Katsigiannis for excellence in the study of Modern Greek. Contributions of Greek societies who have awarded scholarships to students of our Modern Greek Language and Literature Program from 2000- 2007 were recognized. They have raised $79,150 in scholarships. The list of donors include: the Athanasiades Foundation; Cephalonian Associaiton AENOS; Chian Federation; Greek-American Homeowners Association; HYPE, Memory of Archie Mavromatis; Kefalos Cephalonian Association; Stephen Cherpelis Enterprises: Sotiria Cherpelis; Syllogos Evrytanon “To Karpenisi” Society; George Fakiris; Greek Afternoon School of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church; Panchiaki Korais Society; Pan Cyprian Association of America; Pan Gregorian Enterprises, Inc.; Olympic Torch Contracting Inc.; St. Nektarios Philoptohos; Peter Balodimas; Steve Tsernikas; Anastasios C. Kokaliaris; George Katsihtis; New York Physical Therapy Sports Rehabilitation; Scholarship in Memory of Stamatis Sklavos; Odisseas Skountzos; Tom Tsongas; George and Kay Malafis Scholarship and Varis Family Scholarship.

Dr. Christos Ioannides, Director of the Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies Center, Queens College, pledged a continuous effort between both programs in the advancement of Hellenism. Amy Litis Vasilakos was recognized for her generous donation of Greek language DVDs for the study of Modern Greek in the Language lab. Others were also honored throughout the night, including the graduating seniors of the Modern Greek Language and Literature Program. The award recipients were Yvonne Cassimatis, Maria Mitidis, Spiros Kostaras, Christina Constantinou, and Ann Marie Renaldo. Special service awards were given to two outstanding members of the Greek Club and Modern Greek Language and Literature program who have accomplished exceptional work in the public relations of the event: Faith Lawson and Dennis Moshopoulos. Parents were honored for their participation in the successful events. The honorees were Mary Anne Cassimatis, John Cassimatis, Laura Kostaras, Christoforos Kostaras, Dina Mitidis, Theodore Mitidis, Pangiotis Tsagkaris, and Spiros Kaloudis.

Master Antonis Loupakis with his unique Academy.

The following persons donated: President Petros Kasimis and Cultural Committee Chairperson Dimitris Stavropoulos of Geros Tou Morea NY Chapter #1, of the Pan Arcadian Federation of America; Dr. John G. Siolas; Panagiotis Tsagkaris; Andreas Moshopoulos; Family Dennis Moshopoulos; Amy Litis Vasilakos; Spiros Kaloudis; Faith Lawlor; SJU Greek Club; Ann Marie Renald of the SJU Italian Club; Vivian Vescovacci; Yvonne A. Montesantos; Geoffrey O'Brien; Tom Kalaritis; Penny Kalaritis and Stavroula Raia.

As the night progressed, Dr. John G. Siolas presented the audience with the special guest appearance and spectacular performance of Master Antonis Loupakis and his Academy. Master Antonis was a Greek champion who competed in the 1964 Olympics in Japan. He is currently a sixth degree black belt, a Grandmaster in Taekwon-Do. He has received honors from New York Mayor Bloomberg and has an Academy located in Astoria. Master Loupakis and his Academy amazed the audience. The unique former Greek Olympics participant and his Academy received over 30 Gold medals in the Pan-American Competitions.

[Photo at right: President Petros Kasimis and Cultural Committee Chairperson Dimitris Stavropoulos of Geros Tou Morea NY Chapter #1, of the Pan Arcadian Federation of America with Dr. John G. Siolas.]

Food and refreshments were served with traditional Greek hospitality by St. John’s students. Sweet sounds of bouzouki songs such as Melina Merkouri’s 1960’s classic “Pote Tin Kyriaki” entertained all. The night concluded with the words of Professor Catherine Tsounis who said “We must never forget the blood of our ancestors, who were ordinary persons that wanted to be free to practice their way of life by willingly giving up their lives for an ideal. Zito to 21. Long live 1821!”

2007 Chian Federation scholar
Antonios Katsigiannis.

Outstanding SJU Modern Greek scholars Christiana Pashiou, Christina Constantinou, Andy Kokkinos, Professor Tsounis, Dennis Moshopoulos and Maria Mitidis at the event.

(Posting date 29 April 2007

Author Filippatos is a student at St. John's University under the tutelage of Professor Catherine Tsounis. All photos for this article taken by Ms. Filippatos.

HCS encourages readers to view other fine articles ( ) penned by Dr. Catherine Tsounis and press releases about the Modern Greek Studies program at St. John's University, where she is an adjunct professor. For more information about Dr. Tsounis, see her biographical sketch at

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