By Stefanos Evripidou
NIKOLAS M. Ierides, a key figure in the history of education on the island, was buried yesterday after a funeral ceremony held at the Chapel of the School for the Blind in Nicosia.
Ierides, who died on Sunday at the age of 85, played a seminal role in establishing a modern school for the blind in Cyprus after the country won independence from British colonial rule. He later moved on to establish his own successful private education institute in Nicosia, The Falcon School.
Born on April 8, 1928, in Varosha, Famagusta, Ierides was put in charge of the School for the Blind at the age of 32, following the establishment of the Cyprus Republic in 1960.
In his first few years as headmaster, Ierides worked hard to create a new school for the blind that met the highest standards of the day in Europe.
Despite the eruption of interethnic violence in 1963-1964, Ierides worked in cooperation with the country’s first President, Archbishop Makarios, during those tumultuous years to move the school’s students from their old building- the current abode of the commerce ministry on Makarios Avenue- to a purpose-built school on 28th October Street in the Acropolis area of the capital, boasting the island’s first indoor swimming pool.
One of his graduates from the School for the Blind, DISY MP Riccos Mappourides, gave one of four eulogies at the funeral yesterday, praising Ierides for his meticulous work in creating a school of the highest standards for the island’s blind and coordinating relief efforts for the enclaved during the 1974 invasion, using the school as a base.
In 1976, Ierides founded The Falcon School in Nicosia. He stayed on as headmaster at the School for the Blind until 1979, when he took early retirement, concentrating his efforts on The Falcon and offering continuous English-language education for girls and boys from the ages of 3 to 18.
He worked to ensure that the private school offered the highest quality in education based on traditional values and in a multicultural environment, complemented by a special focus on sports and the arts, with the school providing its own swimming pool, sports field and amphitheatre.
Each year, Ierides would take his conductor’s baton in hand to lead an orchestra during each of the many musicals performed by students and teachers, which he directed.
He remained director of The Falcon from 1979 until 2013.
A great lover of the arts and music, Ierides played a huge role in ensuring that the amphitheatres at both the Falcon and Blind School provided cultural enrichment both for their students and the capital’s residents for decades.