AMERICAN ACADEMY LARNACA 1974-2009 (Now and Then)

Trip Start Oct 25, 2009
Trip End Nov 02, 2009

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009


The school was founded in 1908 by the Foreign Mission Board of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America but was given in the late 1970's to the alumni of the school who govern it through an elected council and two representatives from the local Evangelical community.

The school motto 'to grow and to serve" underlies the philosophy of the school.  It is an extension of the culture and/ or ethos of the school referred to as "The Academy spirit” which is characterized by a democratic and positive climate, respect for each other, understanding and co-operation between students and staff, as well as student and staff involvement in humanitarian, social, cultural and other activities for the welfare of the people and the community.

The school was always a multi-communal school with students enrollment and faculty from the Turkish Cypriot, Greek Cypriot, Maronite, Armenian and Latin communities along with foreign nationals.


Entering the American Academy building

After so many years I am here today entering the building with a camera in my hand instead of carrying books.

I am not worried or anxious if I know the lessons well today, but instead of books I carry all these years that have passed after my graduation. Wonderful years then, always appreciated.

Every single room in there reminds me of those wonderful years when young then and full of dreams!

Many probably thinking that life would be some kind of a game, or probably after graduation everything would be so pleasant and peaceful.

Many of us accomplished our dreams more than others, some did very well and I believe the majority of my classmates and students that I know graduating the Academy had successful careers.

I am facing the auditorium.  The notice boards are full of photos and announcements of different activities taking place.

This has not changed at all.  The school must have been recently renovated and painted.  It is very clean, and there are some students probably waiting for their buses which will carry them to their villages.  I remember how my classmates had to wait for their buses too.  The students are still wearing uniforms and I can hear them talking in Greek.  Probably because the school must have closed an hour ago. We were not allowed talking in Greek while on the school premises those years, but of course whenever we had the chance we were talking in Greek, but always being afraid that somebody might hear us and take us to the office.

I walk pass by, every single class.  I even open doors to check and see how things have changed.  I cannot believe what I see in many rooms. Everything is so different. I open the lab class that Mr. Chattalas was teaching then, and I cannot recognize it.  High tech facilities, probably the latest facilities in the market today!

I come to the school yard and I can hear children singing English songs from the upper floor.  I am moved and tears come to my eyes.

I remember a basement class, and an incident comes to my mind, back in 1972.

We were out for a short recess, and I remember our teacher that day – Mr. Edgar who used to be the school’s principle those days, teaching us Bible.

He is waiting next to the door for everyone to get inside and start his lesson, and we walk slowly towards the door.

Usually girls were entering first, and I hear him saying,

“Ladies first”…..I am just entering, and when I hear what he says I fulfill the statement “ And donkeys follow”

He heard it, and just after we all sat in the class, he asks me to stand up and repeat what I had moments ago said.  So in this class at the basement, I had to stand up and repeat what I had said before.

This was probably to show the boys that I myself considered them to be –donkeys!  But it was not true. 
I had a very good relationship with both boys and girls.

And to be honest, I had better relationship with the boys than the girls.

New huge buildings stand around the school area.  They belong to the Academy, and everything is so different.  I see mothers with little children in the premises.  This is something new.  There were no classes for young children those days.

I move on to the girls’ yard.  The funniest of all was that when the bell rang for the big recess, we would all run to the “Fata”

this is what we called the school canteen those days, bought what we wanted, but the girls had to hurry and get to the girls’ yard as we were forbidden to be in the boys yard for too long.

Silly ideas which I am sure don’t exist today!

I spend more than 45 minutes walking around the school premises, and then walk all the way home.

On my way, I take pictures of nice buildings, until I come to the house of one of my dear teachers, Mr. Angelos Chattalas.

His house was just a few meters from the Academy, and it was a modern building with a beautiful huge garden.

Suddenly as I am walking I see many cats in his garden.  There is a person in the yard, but I cannot tell who it is.

I can only see his back.   I try to take a photo, but I notice that I have the camera set for distant spots, so the photo is not good.

I quickly fix the camera, and I think that the person is a very old lady with long hair.  The person turns, and suddenly I am shocked. This person is my teacher, dear Mr. Chattalas.  He is feeding his cats in the garden.  I speak to him and tell him that I am taking a picture of his cats.  He asks me my name, and of course he remembers me.  His words are, “Are you Evro’s sister”? “ Oh Yes, I am Popi remember me”? I replied.

Of course I had no intention of taking photos of the cats but of him from the beginning.  He was such a good teacher…..and we could cheat in his classes as well!

He had a rich collection of classic records, and once a week he would play for us 3 or 4 pieces of classic music in the auditorium.

Before writing all these, I had no idea how to start.

So I did some searching on the internet to find articles and photos from the Academy.

I am so very happy that I have found so many articles, - a real treasure for me indeed. 

I found photos from the photo gallery on top of the page of the site.

If anyone tries to find me just out of curiosity, you can go to the photo gallery, and open the Top Class.

I am in the Class of 1974 Commercial.

But an article written from a former classmate – from the UP section, Nicos Anastasiou brought tears in my eyes.

His article – The Seperation, The Reunion, and the Hope moved me a lot.

As Nico says, indeed our common experience as friends and students in the Academy was, that we had never quarreled about the differences in our background and history, referring to our Turk friends.  From the names he mentions, I remember some Turks myself.  I remember Sonai, Ibrahim, Aygen-the gentle giant as he calls him, and Mustafa.

All information is found in the site below, and from the photo gallery one can find pictures from the foundation of the Academy.

The seperation, reunion, and the hope

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