SCHOOLING AT LAPITHOS
Lapithos had been the town of beauty, wealth and art. Hence education thrived. There had always been sponsors of letters in our town.
During the dark years of Turkish Rule (Tourkokratia) (1571-1878), the Greek Orthodox priests sew the seed of learning at the secret school (kryfo skoleio). In those years many Lapithiotes received their educated in this way.
Lapithos boasted two schools for boys at the end of the 19th century. The first one located in the Ayia Paraskevi parish was in the church complex. The other was to be found at the top of the rock, near the Town Hall, at a location named ‘Castro’ (castle). In this same location the First Town School was later to be built.
It is of interest to note that during the first two decades of the 20th century a primary school for girls was operated in the complex of the Apostolos Loukas church. The number of pupils was small because it was rare then for Cypriot families to cater for their daughters’ education.
However, a new school for girls was built circa 1920 in the courtyard of Ayia Anastasia church on the other rock overlooking the region. It was called Parthenagogeio (School for Virgins).
A new school for boys replaced the old one opposite the Town Hall. The beautiful new structure consisted of six rooms, the headmaster’s office and a multi-functional hall with a stage. The painting on the stage showed Kanaris – the hero of the Greek War of Independence 1821 – setting fire to the Turkish flagship in Chios. It was named To Arrenagogeio (The School for Males).
Both buildings were the pride of Lapithos. They adorned our town. Their location and architecture were clearly discernible from any point in the surrounding area. The two schools merged under one headmaster in the school year 1944-45.
The 1950s saw a boom in the number of pupils. The classrooms of the existing schools were not enough to cater for those increasing numbers. Therefore the classrooms of the old Parthenagogeio of Apostolos Loukas and of the Arrenagogeio of Ayia Paraskevi were put into use.
Pupils from the Ayios Theodhoros parish had to move to the B’ Astiki Scholi Lapithou (Second Town School), which was actually the house of Nikolas Metaxas, in 1961 due to construction work. After the completion of renovation work the school of Ayia Anastasia became the Third Town School in 1963. The school was burnt down during the 1955-59 troubles. Thus by 1963 Lapithos had three separate elementary schools each one with its own headmaster and staff.
The year 1965 saw a significant drop in the number of pupils. The Third Town School stopped its operation. Its classrooms were now used for special courses: house-keeping and carpentry. The rest were turned into a Community Kinder garden.
In 1970 another new building was put into use for the Second Town School of Ayios Theodhoros parish. A modern and comfortable Elementary School in the Alonia ton Plakon area.
The Elementary Schools of Lapithos operated for the last time in the school year 1973-74. Seven teachers were serving in each of the two schools.
3rd Urban School – Ayia Anastasia parish
2nd Urban School – Ayios Theodoros parish
1st Urban School – Apostle Loukas parish
The Greek High School of Lapithos and Karavas started in 1910-11. The establishment of the School was the result of the agitation by intellectuals under the leadership of Bishop Kyrillos of Karenina.
On 7 July 1910, the inhabitants of the two towns of Lapithos and Karavas, upon an invitation by Bishop Kyrillos, elected their delegates. The following day, 8 July 1910, the delegates convened at Arrenagogeio Apostolos Loukas and drafted the constitution of the Greek School under the chairmanship of Bishop Kyrillos.
The basic provisions were the following:
- The School was to have three forms.
- There have to be at least three teachers. The head teacher should be a philologist or theologian and one of them should be an agriculturalist.
- The Board of Governors should consist of 10-12 members. Members from Lapithos and Karavas should be of equal number.
- Elections to the Board of Governors should take place every five years. The Board should be chaired by the Bishop or his plenipotentiary.
- The school building should be constructed in five years, at a location between Lapithos and Karavas. Until it is finished the School should function in alternate years in Lapithos and Karavas.
- First school year of operation should be 1910-11.
Funding should come from:
- Contributions by the Diocese of Kerynia, by the Churches of Lapithos, Karavas and the surrounding villages.
The Greek School ran smoothly for only two school years. In 1910-11 ten students enrolled while the next year (1911-12) their number increased to twenty-seven. Christodoulou Hieronymus and Nicholas Xenias taught at the School.
An unfortunate meeting of the Board of Directors of the School on 26 June 1912 led to its closure. At this meeting at the Monastery of Acheiropoiitos the Karavas Board members demanded that the School be based at Karavas until the construction of the permanent school building was completed. Such a demand ran contrary to the provisions of the School constitution. (The source of this record is Costas Kris: Chronika tis Lapithou – Chronicles of Lapithos).
No attempt to re-establish the School was taken in the following five years. Chariton Athanasiades, chairman of the Ayios Loukas School Committee took the initiative to re-establish a Scholarcheion (three-form school for children aged 10-13) at Lapithos. He sought unsuccessfully to make the various parish school committees of the town join forces.
In the end only the Kato Enories (Lower Parishes) joined forces and established the Anoteri Elliniki Scholi Lapithou (Higher Greek School of Lapithos) as an extension of the Ayios Loukas elementary school. Still this higher school had only two forms. A. Arapis, a mainland Greek educationalist from Epirus serving as Supervisor at the Colonial Administration’s Education Office, supported Arapis efforts.
During the school year 1917-18 the first form of the Higher Greek School operated at Ayios Loukas elementary school. The teacher was Menelaos Paroikos.
In 1918-19 a two-form Scholarcheion was housed near Kamares. In 1920-21 it was transferred to the hotel of Ayia Anastasia. The director of the school was Stylianos Klytides from Tsakistra. Chariton Athanasiades, the instigator of the re-establishment of the school, became the chairman its committee.
It is only in 1923 that unity is achieved between the six parishes for the better – financial and other – functioning of the Greek Higher School. Bishop Makarios, the Metropolitan of Kerynia, invited representatives of the six parishes who elected the following school-board for a three-year term:
- Chariton Athanasiades
- I. Constantinides
- N.K. Pyrgos
- Costas Christodoulakis
- Efthyvoulos Paraskevaides
- Polydoros Constantinou
- Art. Chr. Proestos
The municipality of Karavas did not take part in this new initiative. However students from Karavas continued to attend the school.
The School now functioned on a better organizational basis. Its level was upgraded. Hence its contribution to the society of Lapithos. In employing a policy of self-sufficiency the school-board sought to appoint local teachers from Karavas and Lapithos.
The following were the teachers in the years 1921-1933:
1921-1923: Kostas Kaplanis, Head teacher
1923-1924: Kyriakos Papoulis, Assistant Head teacher
1924-1925: Kyriakos Kakoullis, Head teacher
Chariton Kyriakides, Teacher
1926-1927: Chariton Kyriakides, Head teacher
Filaretos Argyrides, Teacher
1927-1929: Athanasios Kyriakides
1929-1932: Kostas Kaplanis, Head teacher
(1929-1930) Charalambos Katsarides, Teacher
(1930-1932) Nikolaos Kantis, Teacher
1932-1933: Savvas Ioakeim
In 1933-34 the School offers also the third form. Three teachers teach: Nikolaos Kantis, Charalambos Katsaris, Ch. Exadhaktylos. In 1938 the fourth form was added. The School is renamed Imigymnasio Lapithou (Semi-Gymnasium of Lapithos).
The list of chairmen of the school-board in the period 1923-1961 is as follows:
1923-1925: Efthyvoulos Paraskevaides
1925-1926: Chariton Athanasiades
1926-1929: Nikolaos Pyrgos
1929-1932: Chariton Athanasiades
1932-1935: Nikolaos Pyrgos
1935-1938: Demosthenes Kalliades
1938-1961: Savvas Christofides
Feidias Paraskevaides, Costas Taliadoros and Yeorghios Kazelis served as chairmen between 1961 and 1974.
The list of Head teachers – Directors of the School in 1933-1974 is as follows:
1933-1935: Nikolaos Kantis
1935-1937: Panos Mesis
1937-1938: Yeorghios Mourouzis
1938-1942: Praxitelis Yeorghiou
1942-1946: Costas Hadjipsaltis
1946-1950: Athanasios Chiotelis
1950-1951: Vassilios Livas
1951-1953: Yeorghios Lysikatos
1953-1954: Stavros Kapsambelis
1954-1956: Nikolaos Bizanias
1956-1957: Ioannis Karayiannakis
1957-1958: Christos Papaioannou
1958-1959: Cleanthis Yeorghiades
1959-1961: Nikolaos Bizanias
1961-1962: Athanasios Chiotelis
1962-1963: Tasos Anastasiades
1963-1969: Costas Karayiannis
1969-1970: Chrysanthos Kyprianou
1970-1972: Yeorghios Prodromou
1972-1973: Pavlos Hadjimichael
1973-1974: Frosso Mourouzi
Southern view of Lapithos High School
Lapithos Greek High School in 1974
The Greek Gymnasium of Lapithos was a shining beacon which illuminated with knowledge and virtue many generations of Cypriots from Lapithos, Karavas and the surrounding communities of Vasileia, Orka, Panagra, Livera, Sysklipos, Motidhes and Kontemenos.
The festivities on national holidays, the flower festival, the dances and the parades moved everybody. Deeply felt in the heart, these events were always indelibly printed on the memories of those who attended.
Now the Greek Gymnasium stands speechless; devoid of Greek voices and songs. It patiently awaits those to whom it belongs to come and liberate it. The Greek Gymnasium longs for the Lapithiotes to come back and fill it with Greek books. It longs for its students who will live freely in their home, in their own land, in their Greek Lapithos!
Fund-raising for the construction of a new school building began as early as 1940. A whip- round was taken in the region and remittances came in from abroad, especially from Greece. The responsibility for fund-raising was taken by Rebekka Polymerou, sister of General Tsangarides. In his memory, the central hall in the Gymnasium was named Tsangarides Hall.
The new school building started to receive students in 1943. The fifth form started in 1949 and the following year the sixth and final form was added, hence the school was now named Elliniko Gymnasio Lapithou (Greek Gymnasium of Lapithos).
The British colonial authorities refused to grant work permits to teachers from the mainland (Greece) in 1956. As a consequence the Gymnasium arranged for afternoon classes so that Cypriot teachers from the nearby Kerynia Gymnasium could come to teach in Lapithos.
The school building of the Gymnasium of Lapithos continued to grow after the establishment of the Republic in 1960. A new wing was added in 1965-66 to cater for the Science Section. In 1972-73 classrooms for carpentry and ironmongery were added. By the time of the Turkish invasion in 1974 the Gymnasium of Lapithos consisted of 18 classrooms, three specially designed instruction rooms – for music, art and science – four laboratories, four offices, a folk art museum, a library and the Tsangarides Hall for social functions. The Philharmonic Orchestra was the pride of the Gymnasium playing in every national and other social occasion.
The Reform School of Lapithos was established in autumn 1943 upon a decision of the British colonial administration. The idea was to remove the young detainees from the conventional Athalassa jail into a special institution where they would be instructed and advised rather than just punished.
The Reformatory was housed at the seaside hotel of Taliadhoros which lay very near Asprovrysi and the Monastery of Acheiropiitos. Euripides Iakovou was the first Director and Demetris Papadopoulos the Assistant Director.
Turkish Cypriot young detainees were also housed under the same roof. For this reason the staff was mixed; included Greek and Turkish Cypriot. Friendship and co-operation developed. There was never any problem. Neither among the children nor among the staff.
The School functioned on a provisional basis until 1946. Many doubted the prospect of success of such an open institution with special rules and regulations. After the initial successful three years the first budget was approved in 1949 and the foundation was laid for permanent housing.
A wild, barren and rough area of about twenty-five acres was transformed in thirty years (until 1974) time into a garden paradise and a building complex consisting of dormitories, laboratories, a gym, staff housing, soccer, basketball and volleyball grounds and a small infirmary. Fruit and forest trees and ornamental plants were planted. The entire institution was transformed into a small community with all the amenities and the means to offer not only love and affection but also training. Vocational training prepared these recalcitrant children to smoothen out their lives.
A significant achievement was the School’s participation in athletic, artistic and social activities in Lapithos, Karavas and the rest of the Kerynia district.
Further, the School’s presence in the yearly Kataklysmos festivities at the small Lambousa harbour was impressive both in terms of its organization and numerous representations.
The School formed the focus of the Scouts movement in the district. Its soccer team won the Ethos Trophy more often than not. The children were proud of that.
Archbishop Makarios was a great friend of the School of Reform. He consistently visited the School on Christmas Day and offered gifts and advice to the children.
The smooth operation of the School was interrupted by the 1974 Turkish invasion. The forty children were transferred to a safer place until they joined their families.
The School reopened at Polemidhia in 1979. Aid was provided by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees.
The School closed down in 1986 as a result of the change in the philosophy of treating the recalcitrant children. The new policy favours an out-of-detention-centre approach.
The Reform School of Lapithos and later on of Lambousa offered help for social inclusion to those who were in need, according to the philosophy and the needs of their time.
The children who attended the School were helped to develop sound brotherly relations. The Lapithos Reformatory, for the time that it existed, contributed to the building of a better society.
Northern view of Lambousa School
President Makarios visits Lambousas