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Primary school uncovers its 19th century origins

ayios dhometios 2
The first Primary School of Ayios Dometios

The administration of a Nicosia primary school was gearing up to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the institution, only to uncover that the school had actually opened its doors in the 19th century, much earlier than previously believed.

The revelation came to light thanks to the initiative of Dr Chrystalleni Lazarou, the headmistress of the first Ayios Dometios primary school. To mark the school’s upcoming 100 years milestone, she requested assistant professor of Contemporary Greek History at the University of Cyprus Petros Papapoliviou to delve into the school’s history.

The first Primary School of Ayios Dometios is located at the heart of Ayios Dometios, behind the Enad Club and near the Byzantine chapel of Ayios Dometios. According to the official website of the school, the foundation stone was laid on July 18, 1925, and the school began operating in 1926 with two classrooms and one office.

However, new research revealed that the school was operating at a different building near the Ayios Georgios church in the same area since 1883. It was operating under the name ‘koinotiko scholio’ (translating as community school) before it was transferred to the current location, Lazarou told the Cyprus Mail.

Now, a group of approximately 20 graduates of the primary school who had gathered to celebrate the centennial anniversary are helping to organise events for the 142 years of operation of the school, starting this Friday.

“Various events will be taking place all year until 2025, including social and environmental programmes such as tree planting,” Chairman of the Graduates Organising Committee, Panicos Papanikolaou said.

But the most important endeavour is the forthcoming publication of a book on the school’s history.

“We gave a deadline to the researchers to present us with their findings by September 2025,” Papanikolaou said.

On Friday – World Greek Language Day – the Organising Committee is arranging the opening event for the celebration of the 142 years of continuous operation of the 1st Primary School of Ayios Dometios, from 9.30 to 10.30am.

The event includes an artistic performance, presentation of the diorama of the old school, as well as a presentation of the museum education programme titled: “The School Once Upon a Time,” hosted during the current academic year at the school under the auspices of the education ministry, in collaboration with the Cyprus Children’s Museum Organisation.

The commencement of the events will be declared by House President Annita Demetriou. More than 90 distinguished guests will attend, including party representatives.

Over the years, Ayios Dometios primary school experienced a surge in student enrolment, necessitating gradual expansion. Consequently, in 1932, two classrooms were added to the south, followed by another two in 1946 to the north. Subsequently, in 1948, an additional six classrooms were constructed.

In 1965, six new classrooms were erected through a donation from the Demadis family.

In 2004, two small classrooms were built for Special Education and Speech Therapy.

During the 2022-2023 school year, the school comprised nine departments and employed 22 teachers.

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