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DIOCESE OF AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND: August 19, 2008
Intercession of the Holy Virgin Russian School in Cabramatta turns 50

I hesitated to accept a job at the Russian School for a long time. It seemed overwhelming and pointless. But after much persuasion, I finally agreed. I made the conscious decision not to speak a word of English in class as a matter of principal. I pretended I did not understand it. My good children humored me, reminding each other: "Did you forget! She doesn't understand a word! That's just rude!" I was fortunate to have been assigned a merciful class. It is true that in school, you don't only teach, but you learn yourself. It's as if you are drinking from a pure stream. A child's earnestness and frankness urge you on. One must understand a schoolchild's way of thinking, his feelings, and one must know how to adapt.
So the Lord had me join one of the first Russian Schools in Australia, St Panteleimon Russian School at Intercession of the Holy Virgin Parish in Cabramatta. This September we celebrate our 50th anniversary.

The school was founded 50 years ago concurrent with the building of Intercession Church. Its first director was Protopriest Rostislav Gan, the parish rector. Subsequent rectors also assumed the role of school director: Protopriest Michael Klebansky, Archimandrite Alexis (Rosentool), Protopriest Peter Sheko, Protopriest Serafim Gan and now Protopriest Boris Ignatievsky. Of course, without the selfless labors of the faculty, the school would not have survived. KN Epova, GA Ostasevich, TE Baratova, AI Shlyapnikova, LP Kulakovskaya, KM Tonkikh, NV Brusentsev all helped the directors organize the school program at various times, they created the curriculum, found new teachers, composed textbooks, organized concerts. Now this good work is being led by NP Kozina.

The school is fully equipped. It is located in a big building. There are 12 well-furnished, intimate classrooms. The school has a copy machine which helps teachers prepare their lessons, providing the students with interesting assignments. LP Kulakovskaya and NN Prokopovich wrote wonderful textbooks for reading, Russian language, Russian History and grammar. Large collections of materials have been amassed for all 10 grades. The school has an auditorium and even a dressing room. We have great teachers here, many are from Russia. Some people remember the school since its inception. The children have the opportunity to hear pure Russian spoken, without any accent. Thanks to the good cafeteria, children and teachers are able to share morning tea and a hot lunch together, thanks to the parents. Without their help, everything would be much more difficult. In addition to the usual subjects, Russian language, literature and history, we teach the Law of God, translation (from English to Russian and the reverse), singing and dancing. There is a kindergarten and preschool, too. There is even a class for Russian as a second language for both children and adults.

We at the school are proud of our graduates, who include such wonderful and well-respected people as His Grace Bishop Gabriel (Chemodakov) of Montreal and Canada, Protopriest Nikita Chemodakov, Protopriest Nicholas Karipoff, Abbess Anna (Karipoff), Protopriest Vladimir Boikov, Protopriest Michael Boikov, Fr Nikolai Gan, Protopriest Gabriel Makarov and others.

On September 21, St Panteleimon Russian School will celebrate its anniversary. After Divine Liturgy, at 12 noon, the church hall will host a benefit luncheon for the school, after which there will be a concert given by the students. The play Snegurochka will be shown, and there will be singing, dancing, and poetry readings.

We invite all who remembers and loves our school to participate: graduates, parents, grandparents and benefactors. The program will conclude with a performance by a choir of graduates. A Laptev (the choir director at Intercession Church) kindly agreed to direct. Let us remember how our school was founded, it unforgettable founder and source of inspiration, and all those who helped Cabramatta's Russian School.
For information, call: 0411 028 343 / 9660 6218

Anna Rotenko