The Delphian Fall 2021

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The Delphian

FALL 2021


The Delphian FALL 2021


From the Head of School


The Re-accreditation of AOS

Our Mission Annunciation Orthodox School, having grown from a ministry of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral, celebrates the diverse and individual qualities of all children and their families.


The Legacy of Our Founders, My Grandparents


Teaching Beyond the Classroom


History Has Its Eyes on You


Passport of Service


Creating Champions


The Archbishop's Commencement Address


Congratulations, Class of 2021!


A Year in Review: Special Events


Parent Volunteer Awards


Class of 2017 College Matriculation


Alumni Spotlight: Alexandra Schwenke ’00


2021-2022 Alumni Committee and Upcoming Events


Alumni Class Notes

AOS provides a superior education in a secure and stimulating Christian environment which encourages the individual child to achieve academic, spiritual, emotional, social and physical excellence, and to become a responsible member of our society.

Cover: Connor L. ’27 building a tipi after studying the Sioux tribe as part of the 2nd-grade Native Americans unit.


Dear AOS Community,


The 2020-2021 school year marked an incredible milestone. Over the last 50 years, thousands of students have walked through the doors of AOS, and I am proud to share the AOS faculty and staff worked together and found innovative solutions to keep those doors open despite the many challenges brought on by a worldwide pandemic. With support from our community and our mission at the forefront, we successfully celebrated our 50th anniversary by engaging students both inside the classroom and at home. We held a few of our favorite events on a smaller scale and ultimately learned the art of flexibility. Our teachers’ commitment to excellence empowered our students to overcome obstacles while still learning and growing amidst a trying time. Our athletes brought home two conference championships, and our Quiz Bowl team placed first in the Texas Middle School State Competition. Whether students sat at a desk inside our classrooms or “Zoomed” from their homes, it was our priority to provide students with the strong educational experience for which AOS is known. Teachers dug deep into their tool belts, finding creative ways to share their favorite lessons. Amy Williams points out in her article that teachers “went back to the basics in order to launch their expertise into the future.” As you all know, the heart and soul of our school lives inside the many events that have turned into long-standing traditions. Our alumni, several of whom are featured in this issue, have the fondest memories of Book Fair, Spaghetti Dinner, and Olympics. Faculty, staff, and our PTC and Dads Club devoted countless hours and made all the necessary adjustments to make sure these events remained a meaningful part of the school year. Enthusiasm for these moments radiated throughout our school and brought joy to a year of uncertainty. We concluded our school year with an outdoor graduation ceremony where AOS had the privilege of hosting His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America. His Eminence toured the campus and immediately felt the agape inside our school. As he noted in his graduation remarks, “the true success of a human being is in your capacity for empathy, for compassion, for seeing the other person’s perspective, for hope, for faith, and for love.” I can confidently say our AOS family exemplified each of those traits, most notably through our year-long service project dedicated to the DeZavala School Market. Students collected numerous personal care items for the Market and learned the importance of offering support for others in our community. In this issue, you will also read about our re-accreditation process which began during the spring of 2019 and ended with a virtual visit in the spring of 2021. The Visiting Committee of the Independent Schools Association of the Southwest composed of educators and administrators from peer ISAS schools, provided us with exemplary commendations and consistently noted the passion our community has for developing the hearts and minds of our students. As we embark on the 2021-2022 school year, I am certain that our community is more prepared than ever to tackle the unknown. I am incredibly thankful for the family we have built and each member’s dedication to helping our students grow and succeed. I look forward to another outstanding school year.

Dr. Samuel V. Fragomeni Head of School THE DELPHIAN I FALL 2021 1

THE RE-ACCREDITATION OF AOS By Kelley Elliott, Assistant Head of Early Childhood & Lower School and Accreditation Coordinator

As a member of the Independent Schools Association of the Southwest (ISAS), AOS takes part in an accreditation process every ten years. We began the process in the spring of 2019 with the plan for completion in the spring of 2020. However, the pandemic caused unexpected disruptions, and we did not complete the process until spring of 2021. The accreditation process began with an extensive self-study in which faculty, staff, parents, students, and alumni participated. The creation of the self-study provided the opportunity for our community to reflect on our mission and evaluate our strengths and weaknesses. Through the process, we recommitted as a community to the educational and ethical standards set by the Association, to the AOS mission itself, and to self-improvement. Following the self-study, a visiting committee composed of educators and administrators from peer ISAS schools conducted an accreditation visit. During this visit, the Visiting Committee assessed the accuracy of our self-study, evaluated the effectiveness of our programs, measured the concurrence of those programs with our mission, and made recommendations to assist in our continued improvement. The Visiting Committee was able to view classes, meet with faculty and staff, and take virtual tours of the school all remotely. Although they were not physically present on campus, the committee members all attested that they could feel the agape of AOS radiating through their computer screens. Our Visiting Committee Chairperson, Julie McLeod of the Good Shepherd School in Dallas, noted in her final report that “our school’s work was nothing short of exceptional, organization masterful, documentation thoughtful and thorough,


and the administration, faculty and staff are forthright, generous, and collegial.” The Visiting Committee provided several commendations, many centered around the dedicated individuals who make AOS a welcoming home to our students. They noted that students felt loved by faculty and fellow classmates, and likewise, faculty and staff showed a passion for their fields and their roles in the development of children. The AOS leadership team was commended for creating a positive environment where all current members of the community feel a sense of belonging, and where new members quickly feel supported. Additionally, the Committee recognized AOS’ diverse community, noting our consistent commitment to celebrating the cultural heritages and religious backgrounds of all AOS students. The recommendations AOS received were aligned with our self-study, much of which is also supported by our current strategic plan. These recommendations will propel us forward for the next ten years.


AOS has been my home for as long as I can remember. Although my Pappou and Yiayia were not living in Houston during my time at AOS, their love lived in the hearts of the people and the school they built. Growing up I could always depend on an AOS community member, like Mrs. Nikkie or a church parishioner, to tell me a story of Pappou’s humor and wisdom, or Yiayia’s hard work and care for others. While I loved them, to me they were just my sweet grandparents, and I didn’t understand why everyone was so crazy about them. Being the youngest of all my siblings and cousins I have had the least amount of Pappou and Yiayia time. As a priest, my Pappou has touched the hearts of many I know, but I really saw his love when my brother, Lucas, was in his early twenties. He started having weekly Bible and book study calls and conversations with our Pappou. They were always close, but watching them interact is when I understood why people still talked about my Yiayia and Pappou. Although being their granddaughter did not make me special, the agape surrounding my youth at AOS was definitely a product of their work. My grandparents always include everyone and bring out the best in those that they meet, and those qualities led to the accomplishment of our wonderful school. Their hard work and efforts to bring together an educational community motivated my siblings and me to strive to be leaders at AOS. The foundation of our school still inspires our community and remains strong because of the loving and enormous group of people from the Cathedral who joined my grandparents as founders. Their legacy has been kept alive by those who have followed, who continue to love and support AOS. Above (top to bottom): AOS Founders Father Nicholas Triantafilou and his wife Presvytera Diane in approximately 1970, the same year the school opened; Father Nicholas Triantafilou with three of his grandchildren Lucas '09, Artemis ’17, and Kyriaki ’21


TEACHING BEYOND THE CLASSROOM By Amy Williams, 3rd Grade Teacher

The 2020-2021 school year was a challenge for many people. Despite these challenges, the past year at AOS was a positive learning and growing experience for all of our constituent groups including administrators, board members, parents, teachers, and students. As a school community, we began planning for the 2020-2021 school year before the 2019-2020 school year ended. We wanted to examine the feedback regarding what worked and what did not work as we were thrown into the chaos that erupted in March of 2020. While the worldwide pandemic affected us all in different ways, we remained focused on our students’ continuing education as they did not return to our campus after spring break. Teachers, with the support of parents, rose to the occasion to finish the year virtually. We did as well as could be expected, but we knew even more could be done for our students. Spring and summer were dedicated to preparations for the teaching models we assumed would be available for our students in the coming school year. Our administrators led the charge to read, research, and watch what other schools were doing (or not doing). We wanted to be armed with the most effective tools to tackle a myriad of situations. It was our priority to rise to the 4 ANNUNCIATION ORTHODOX SCHOOL

highest possible level of excellence for all of our students in all learning environments. With the school’s mission statement at the core of our efforts, we dedicated ourselves to determining how to best prepare our students for success. This new COVID-19 complication taught us that our students needed to be empowered for any obstacles that lay ahead. “‘Our job as teachers, parents, and leaders is not to prepare kids for something.’ Our job is to help kids prepare themselves for ‘anything.’ There is no better time to be in education than right now. Education is the bridge to so many opportunities for our learners. We must step aside as the gatekeepers and instead move next to our learners to take the journey together” (Juliani & Spencer, 2017, pp. 11, 20). We coordinated to support three different models for teaching and learning: Dolphins at a Distance (all students at home), Heart and Minds at Home (some students at home with other students at school), and in-school learners. We also wanted to help make the transition as seamless as possible if and when students moved from one learning environment to another. We knew we would need to be flexible for

whatever scenarios might occur, while also providing necessary structures and expectations for maximum student progress. In faculty meetings, we shared our respective struggles and triumphs, and we celebrated our growth as a learning community. In many ways, teachers went back to the basics in order to launch our teaching expertise into the future. Teachers became students as we worked to redefine ourselves to meet the demands of the unusual upcoming year. We had always worked to include the 4 C’s of Education for the 21st Century into our curriculum: Critical Thinking, Communication, Collaboration, and Creativity. However, before we could select the most valuable lessons to teach, we needed to evaluate how we, as teacher guides, could be more effective critical and creative thinkers. Coordinating our lessons across multiple classes in a single grade required us to become more efficient, collaborative communicators. We also knew we should and could include several other important life skills in our lessons, including SEL (social and emotional learning) and especially for our older students, literacy skills. We recognized the importance of teaching skills and strategies for identifying trustworthy sources, locating reliable information, and separating these from the misinformation that floods the internet. Our IT team helped us to disseminate literacy skills and utilize technology and online resources to reach and teach students. With training, we became experts at reaching students with Zoom and SwivL. Additionally, our counseling team helped us understand our students’ and parents’ concerns during this unstable time. They offered specific lessons and ways to integrate social and emotional learning into our daily work. Many teachers created Google Slide presentations and shared their screens in a Zoom meeting. The lesson would follow as the teacher directed the students through an “I do,” “we do,” “you do” model. First, students observed the teacher as he or she demonstrated the assignment. Next, the class worked together to accomplish the task which could consist of a story, poem, interview, math word problem, hypothesis, etc. Finally, each student independently created a product on their own. Older students used Google Slides to

communicate with each other. Students could answer a specific reading or math question on a dedicated slide and then read each other’s responses to make comments or ask further questions. We ultimately became better teachers as we offered interactive manipulatives and planned how to effectively conduct and monitor small-group meetings. As another school year approaches, we continue to value reflective feedback and seek ways to improve upon the past year’s performance. We are hoping and assuming that the 2021-2022 school year will be different, back to what we knew in the past. But as a school, we will also continue to grow and strive to become even more effective mentors. Our goal is to meet students where they are while we both nurture and challenge them to do the best they can do and be the best they can be.

Opposite (left to right): George H. ’28 working on a STEAM project; Sofia K. '22 completing an in-class assignment. Above: Sophie Claire B. '29, Ella B. '29, and Arion C. '29 participating in Mrs. Joanne Bonasso's music class through Hearts & Minds at Home, our virtual learning program.


HISTORY HAS ITS EYES ON YOU By Sharon Corbett, Head of Early Childhood & Lower School and Heather Haas, Head of Middle School

AOS celebrates Black History Month every February. Our theme this year was “History Has its Eyes on You.” Each year, this program grows and becomes more meaningful to our students, and this year was no exception. Jonathan Sprinkles, an AOS parent with great contacts and connections, led the charge. He brought energy and commitment to this work, and our students loved the chat show format of the virtual presentations. Students reported that they enjoyed the chats, and they seemed to connect with each speaker as they learned more about the life and achievements of each outstanding individual. Due to the virtual format of each presentation, students and teachers were able to engage with four outstanding speakers: Costume Designer Ruth Carter, Chef Jeff Henderson, Disney Imagineer Dex Tanksley, and professional tennis player Zina Garrison. Making this even more enjoyable was the fact that several of our middle school students were able to interview each of the talented individuals. These contemporary Black history-makers taught us about creativity, overcoming roadblocks, leaving a legacy, and following your dreams. This program exemplifies our work in reaffirming our commitment to sustaining a strong and diverse school community based on the spiritual core, traditions, and culture of the Greek Orthodox Christian faith and heritage.

Dex Tanksley Disney Imagineer

“What is it like working for Disney? Jack B. ’21

“What do you do when you have a challenge you need to overome?” David H. ’21

“What do you love about your job? Logan O. ’21

“What do you think is the best thing about your job? Grady M. ’21


“Can you tell us what made your food yours?” Christian C. ’21

Jeff Henderson Chef at the Bellagio Hotel

“What were some of the advantages and disadvantages?” Evan F. ’21

“What kind of research do you do?” Caroline B. ’22

Ruth Carter Oscar-winning Costume Designer

“What was the hardest costume for you to design?” Valentina D. ’22

“What would you do differently if you could go back in time?” Anderson Z. ’21

Zina Garrison Olympic Gold Medalist Tennis Player

“What pressure did you feel, and how did you handle it?” Leah Brooke W. ’22


PASSPORT OF SERVICE By Dr. Matthew Panozzo, 7th Grade English Language Arts Teacher

To develop our students' hearts and minds, AOS has participated in a variety of service projects over the years. However, our protocols to limit the spread of COVID-19 presented some challenges when creating service projects that connected students with communities in need. With the help of Belinda McGinty, Middle School Service Learning Chair, Annunciation Orthodox School opted to support the DeZavala Middle School Market. While Food Stamps and Lone Star Card programs are designated for food items, personal care items such as toilet paper, soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, and toothpaste are not allowed on such assistance programs. The Houston Food Bank can distribute these additional items, but they only have a limited quantity, and unfortunately, the School Market at DeZavala had not received any of these products in quite some time.

“This partnership has been greatly appreciated; we hope to continue working with Mrs. McGinty and the AOS family far into the future!” Theresa Kamara-Sosa Site Coordinator at De Zavala Middle School


Although we wish we could have held a more interactive service project, this still provided an opportunity to discuss service and the importance of offering support for others. To drive the message home, we created our “Passport of Service.” During each drive, students received a sticker for their passport, each one associated with a thematic message for discussion and reflection. The following describes each month’s message:

• Our first drive was in December, and to

kick things off, we asked students to focus on the statement, “How you make others feel about themselves says a lot about you.” Leading up to this drive, we watched videos and listened to testimonies on how school

markets benefit students and families by giving people access to necessities.

• In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., we

selected one of his quotes for January: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: what are you doing for others?” Collecting items is a small way of showing others we are supporting them.

• Being that we are a middle school, we tried

integrating some humor for our February drive with the phrase, “‘All you need is love’ and personal hygiene products.”

• None of us anticipated the Snowpocalypse

in March. Many of us huddled in our home without power and electricity. However, we were able to turn this into experiential learning as we talked about our own stress in seeking essentials. We took the sage advice of Mr. Rogers: “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

• For our penultimate drive in April,

students had an opportunity to design a sticker themselves. Ms. MacDonald’s 6th-grade cohort won with, “The meaning

of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” It was a fitting quote as we used this year to discuss the different ways we can serve the AOS and Houston community at large.

• And last, in honor of the Olympics, we

created our own quote: “Service means having the courage to use your hearts and minds for others.”

Across the six drives, AOS donated an overwhelming number of resources to DeZavala School Market. Our generosity was greatly appreciated and even shared with neighboring schools.

Opposite (top to bottom): Tommy H. '22 donating items to the School Market drive; Belinda McGinty, Middle School Service Learning Chair, on the last School Market drive of the year. Above: Ella U. '21, Ava A. '21, and Gemma H. '21 drumming up awareness for the February School Market drive.


CREATING CHAMPIONS During a year of seemingly insurmountable odds, our students persevered time and time again. Included here is a list of the athletic, art, and academic competitions in which our students took home first prize. We could not be more proud of all of our students as each of them demonstrates the success of the AOS mission.

Bridget G. ’21 Julia L. ’21 Abby M. ’21 Calista M. ’21 Anna O. ’21 Harper R. ’21 Cati S. ’21 Olivia S. ’21

Athletics Girls Soccer

Track & Field

Our girls team finished at the top of their pool and played in the championship game, which they won 1-0 over the opposing team.

Team Roster

Sofia A. ’21 Chloe A. ’21 Sadie B. ’21 Greer F. ’21 Mary Elizabeth G. ’21 10 ANNUNCIATION ORTHODOX SCHOOL

Not only did our track & field teams win the boys and girls team championships, the Dolphins finished the meet with an outstanding thirteen total 1st-place finishes in individual events.

Team Roster

Claire A. ’22 Charlie B. ’22 Caroline B. ’22 1st place, long jump, triple jump

Leiah B. ’22 Henry C. ’22 Langdon C. ’22 Marcos C. ’22 Gavin D. ’22 Avery D. ’22 Valentina D. ’22 Emma G. ’22 Christopher H. ’22 Kate J. ’22 Chloe K. ’22 Daniel M. ’22 Jonathan M. ’22 Akash M. ’22 Jonah M. ’22 Garvey O. ’22 Simone R. ’22 Milan S. ’22 Sarah Jane S. ’22 Noah W. ’22 Amelia Y.t ’22

Luke O. ’21 1st place, 4x100m relay David S. ’21 Ares S. ’21 Jay W. ’21

Sammie A. ’21 Jack B. ’21 Landon D. ’21 Carson F. ’21 1st place, 400m, 4x100m relay Evan F. ’21 1st place, 800m, triple jump Carina G. ’21 Allison G. ’21 1st place, 400m, 800m David H. ’21 Christopher H. ’21 1st place, 4x100m relay Ethan J. ’21 1st place, 100m, 200m, 4x100m relay Julia L. ’21 Brandon L. ’21 Calista M. ’21 Lucas M. ’21 Logan O. ’21

Laurel M. ’23 won for her animation.

Fine Arts Scholastic Key Lexie S. ’21 won a Gold Key for her Jewelry Design, "Life on Your Ears" Maryn W. ’22 won a Gold Key for her Critical Essay, "Gilmore Dollhouse".

TEAM We had 6 students enter the contest, four of which received an exemplary rating. Sabrina L. ’26, Maria R. ’26, MP S. ’25, and Ava W. ’25. Emma B. ’26 and Sophia P.s ’25 received a good rating.

Vase Jr Bridget G. ’21 won for her Covid Canine sculpture.

Quiz Bowl With about fifteen teams in total, our Quiz Bowl Team members competed in nine online tournaments this year. The 7th-Grade B Team placed 1st in the Texas Middle School State Competition and went on to compete in the National Tournament. Their successes were even featured in Buzz Magazine!

Opposite: AOS girls soccer team in their HJPC conference championship game. Above (left to right): Artwork by Maria R. '26; Covid Canine by Bridget G. '21; Quiz Bowl player Charlie B. '22


THE ARCHBISHOP'S COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS Dear Members of the Board of Trustees, esteemed Faculty and Administration, and most important of all, the Families and Graduates of 2021,

Χριστὸς Ἀνέστη! Christ is Risen! I greet all of you with the Easter joy of the Orthodox Church, which I bring as Archbishop of America, on this fiftieth anniversary of the Annunciation Orthodox School. How proud all of you must be today! I am truly delighted to be sharing your accomplishments with you, and I offer my heartfelt congratulations to you, your parents, your families, and to this wonderful School – who have all supported you throughout your time here. In fact, your graduation is the very reason I came to Houston from the Archdiocesan Headquarters in New York City. Because this fiftieth year celebration is, indeed, important to the whole Church! The Annunciation Orthodox School is an exemplary institution of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, and you should all be very proud of your School and of your accomplishments. 12 ANNUNCIATION ORTHODOX SCHOOL

I know that not all of you belong to the Orthodox Church, but there is something very special about our Easter Greeting: “Christ is Risen,” that is so appropriate for this occasion today. And it is this: through your hard work and belief in yourselves, you, too, are rising today. We call this a commencement, which means a beginning. Because passing this milestone on your journey through life is just another beginning along the path. All of you, who are moving on from the Annunciation Orthodox School family and heading to high schools—where you will prepare even more for life and your educational goals— are rising. You are rising to more than academic excellence. You are rising to more than your athletic pursuits. You are rising to more than a bigger social life—whether it is through your social media or through contact with real, live human beings! You are rising to the moral, ethical and spiritual meaning of what it means to be a complete human being in the twenty-first century. Of course, I don’t mean it to sound like too much!

After all, I didn’t come here to weigh you down with heavy responsibilities too soon, in what I pray are long, healthy and happy lives. However, I am going to be honest with you. You are a generation that is going to witness more change on planet earth than any other before you. We take our technology for granted; like it’s always been there. But it hasn’t. Although you are all still teenagers—and I hope and pray you enjoy your teenage years—you are going to see changes that your parents could not imagine, and they will help prepare you for those changes still to come. And this is precisely why you must rise—and rise not only to the challenges you will face in your new schools. But rise to the challenge of being a full and whole human being, whose life is more than pursuits—whether they be of success in school or sports, or even relationships. The true success of a human being is in your capacity for empathy, for compassion, for seeing the other person’s perspective, for hope, for faith and for love. These are lessons that come from life, and the institutions that you will enter will give you many opportunities to learn them—just as you have learned them here at the Annunciation Orthodox School. As you continue to rise in your lives, then, in every aspect of maturity—through high school, and perhaps to college and university, and on into your chosen professions and relationships: Make sure that you also rise in your spiritual aspirations. Be sure that compassion and love for others rises in your hearts. And you will rise in every true success that life holds for you. You will always succeed in all your endeavors, and the Lord will bless you always.

Χριστὸς Ἀνέστη! Christ is Risen!

His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America presented Dr. Fragomeni with three gifts, each symbolic of Greek heritage and Orthodox Christianity. The first was a medal created by the Archdiocese of America in honor of the bicentennial of the Greek revolution. His Eminence noted that 200 years ago Greece fought to become a free, democratic, Christian country. The medal was followed by a silver icon. The icon depicts the Holy Trinity, a symbol of hospitality and love dating back to Abraham and his wife Sarah in the Bible. His Eminence offered this gift because AOS “is the realization of hospitality.” Finally, Dr. Fragomeni received a marble cross made “from the heart” of the old Cathedral. This gift was presented as a sign of the strong bond between both institutions, the School and the Church.

Opposite: His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America giving his address at the Class of 2021 commencement ceremony. Above: The three items gifted from His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America to our school.


Strake Jesuit College Prepatory 18 Students

Episcopal High School 17 Students

St. John’s High School 14 Students

St. Agnes Academy 7 Students

St. Thomas High School 4 Students

Awty International School 2 Students

The Kinkaid School 2 Students

Bellaire High School 1 Student


Carnegie Vanguard High School 1 Student

Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart 1 Student

Emery/Weiner School 1 Student

Fredericksburg High School 1 Student

HSPVA 1 Student

Incarnate Word 1 Student

Lamar High School 1 Student

Mercersburg Academy 1 Student THE DELPHIAN I FALL 2021 15

Class of 2021

PARTING THOUGHTS I want to share some advice for you to consider for your life beyond AOS…. First, embrace opportunity. Growing up in the United States, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that good education is a privilege that many people in our world do not have. The question is: What will you do with that opportunity? Will you fight through discomfort and experiment with new challenges in an effort to grow?...If you want to achieve what you choose to define as success, you must be willing to face your fears and take advantage of opportunities—even when they scare you. ...My second point of advice today is this: Love....Love each other—all of each other. Not just the people that are kind to you, and not just the people you agree with. If you lead with love, you’ll change the world and others will love, also...One important point about love is that it is important to show love to yourself as well. There are many ways to do this. ...If there is absolutely nothing else you take away from your time at AOS, I hope that you remember your lessons from chapel services and religion classes—most specifically Jesus' request of his disciples on the night before he was crucified: Love each other as I have loved you... Dr. Samuel V. Fragomeni


It is time to open the door to the next part of our lives: high school. We are fully capable of doing anything we set our minds to because AOS has prepared us well. Not only through academics, but being exposed to religion, sports, and fine arts made us well-rounded. At the center of our journey was God. At AOS, we learned to develop both our hearts and minds through prayer. Because of our school, we are ready for anything the world throws at us, whether that be a hurricane, a winter storm, or a global pandemic. Sammie A. ’21

We will always cherish the memories from our time at this wonderful school, and no doubt many of us have developed lifelong friendships from AOS. Our school has done its job, and we are prepared for what our futures hold. Whether or not we see each other in high school, we will never forget just how important we are to each other. Evan F. ’21 THE DELPHIAN I FALL 2021 17

Class of 2021


“I will miss my class the most. They can always cheer me up when I’m having a bad day, and they will always have a special place in my heart.” Chloe A. ’21

“The thing I will miss most about AOS is the community and the people that learn behind the walls of AOS. Everyone has made me feel so incorporated, and I will miss these people so much.” Maya C. ’21

“I will miss the teachers and how they actually care about their kids and genuinely want to help us.” Carson F. ’21

“I will miss the unique celebrations at AOS that I wouldn't have gotten to experience at other schools like the Olympics, Greek Fest, and Greek Independence day.” Mary Elizabeth G. ’21


“I will miss the loving community of AOS. AOS is like a family, and the faculty and staff are so kind to every student.” Mateo R. ’21

“I will miss the opportunities to participate in the musical productions and many of the other events here on campus. AOS has given me the chance to discover who I am and what I like to do, and I think that is really important.” Grady M. ’21

Class of 2021


“I'm going to miss the community and the people I grew up with who have become great friends. As our paths split, I hope to maintain said friendships.” John William R. ’21

“I will miss the people I am surrounded by every day. My friends and teachers make up my entire day. I have grown up with these people, and I will miss my family.” Emma R. ’21


2020-2021: A Year in Review


Back to School Bingo Isa W. ’28 sat down for a round of bingo during our virtual Back to School Bingo event. Students picked up their cards along with their school supplies at a back-to-school drive-through parade and returned home to play bingo with their classmates and families. Winners received a warm box of cookies delivered from Tiff’s Treats! Golf Tournament AOS Class of 2011 alumni Matthew Lintner, Harrison Schmidt, Alec Lubrano, and Bradford von Syring enjoy a beautiful day of golf at the annual Panos Georgiou Memorial Golf Tournament hosted by the Dads Club on December 2, 2020, at Sugar Creek Country Club. 22 ANNUNCIATION ORTHODOX SCHOOL

Celebration of Reading Week & Book Fair The AOS Book Fair, “Reading is Your Ticket to Anywhere!”, was celebrated twice this year: once in October with a Celebration of Reading Week and Spaghetti Dinner and again in March with a traditional book fair. During “dress as your favorite literary character” day, Brooks J. ’29 finds a golden ticket winning a special book for his class. True T. ’27 and Dale V. ’27 had a blast shopping at the AOS Book Fair. The fair was held across the street at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral.

Olympics Olympics Torch extinguishers Tommy H. '22, Nicholas K. '22, Lila J. '23, Natalie G. '23, and Caroline H. '23 take their places after presenting the 2021 Olympic Flame. The opening and closing ceremonies were held on the Moss Family Olympic Field this year with live streams of both ceremonies as well as many of the field events so families could safely watch their children compete. The Blue Team 4th-grade Captains celebrate their gold medal victory with Mrs. Amy Bento. The Olympics was “Twice the Fun in 2021” with two sets of team captains: the 4th- and 5th-grade classes both served as captains this year with the 4th grade leading the lower school and the 5th grade leading the middle school.

Spaghetti Dinner George V. ’29 catches a ride to pick up his Spaghetti Dinner. In order to continue this longstanding AOS-favorite tradition, families picked up to-go meals after school and enjoyed Mrs. Nikkie’s famous Greek spaghetti. Fine Arts Week Camila B. '25, Meg D. '25, and Ellen B. '25 visit the EIKON Art Show during Fine Arts Week. Other Fine Arts Week activities included virtual student “pop up” performances, special lunchtime Spotify playlists, and a virtual poetry slam.


PARENT VOLUNTEER AWARDS Her heart is big enough to love places as passionately as she does people, and AOS is one of the places she loves the most. During her over two continuous decades as a parent at our school, she has given so much of herself to promote the AOS mission that she believes in with such devoted conviction. As we celebrate our school’s 50th anniversary, we are excited to introduce a new parent award. This award will be given each year to someone who embodies and promotes the mission of Annunciation Orthodox School. The Triantafilou Award is named in honor of Father Nicholas Triantafilou and his wife Presvytera Diane, the founders of our school.

God blessed AOS with Father Nicholas and Presvytera Diane as the visionaries who founded our school, but He gave AOS Nicole to advance and protect the mission. We could not have been in better hands than in the loving and capable hands of Nicole Postolos! Nicole has been a tireless volunteer, serving in many capacities throughout her time here as a parent, including as a member of the Board of Trustees, a room parent, PTC and Admission volunteer, and as a guardian of the first strategic imperative of the AOS Strategic Plan: reaffirming AOS' commitment to a diverse community based on the spiritual core, traditions, and culture of the Greek Orthodox Christian faith and heritage. Her abundant and effusive creativity have graced dozens of AOS fine arts productions, school programs and AOS Feast Days. Nicole is a great ambassador for our school, welcoming and embracing everyone she encounters with her warmth, philoxenia (hospitality; "love of strangers"), empathy, and agape.

Nicole Postolos, 2020-2021 Recipient It is incredibly fitting and our distinct honor to award the inaugural Triantafilou Award to Nicole Postolos, daughter of our school’s founders. If you are fortunate enough to be loved by Nicole Postolos, you are fortunate indeed. She will truly do anything for anyone, but especially for the people she loves. Her generous spirit overflows and is impossible to contain. Nicole has spread her love throughout the AOS and AGOC communities, and really, all over the city of Houston. Chances are that if you have spoken to any of the mailmen, garbage collectors, and shop owners in her neighborhood, Nicole has given them a tsoureki (Greek sweet bread)!


The Silver Pillar Award was first awarded in 1996 to the founders of the school, Father Nicholas Triantafilou and his wife Presvytera Diane, and to the founding Head of School Katherine Veletsos. The Silver Pillar Award for Outstanding Service is Annunciation Orthodox School’s top volunteer honor.

This award is given each year to 8th-grade parents. As we were unable to present the award in the spring of 2020, we recognized two sets of parents this year: Tammy & Jason Ahlgren and Catherine & Will Randall.

Catherine & Will Randall, 2020-2021 Recipients

Tammy & Jason Ahlgren, 2019-2020 Recipients Tammy and Jason are parents to Nicole ’18 and Sean ’20 and have been dedicated volunteers at AOS since 2010. During Tammy’s six years as a member of the Board of Trustees, she served on the Board’s Advancement, Facilities, and Finance Committees. Tammy chaired the Book Fair in 2016 and Parent Education in 2014 and 2015. She was also a room parent for many years. Jason was a passionate and hardworking member of the Dads Club. During his time at AOS, Jason served the Dads Club as the Lower School Rep, Middle School Rep, and Dads Club BBQ Cook-off Chair. He also dedicated his time on the Dads Club board serving as Secretary, Vice President, and President. This important group of the AOS community will always be stronger because of the impact he left on all AOS dads. Through the years, Tammy and Jason have been loyal donors of their time, talent, and resources and have made a long-lasting impact on AOS in many ways. It is hard to imagine not seeing them on campus or at the Dads Club Golf Tournament, but their faithful service to our school and their kindness, warmth, and generosity will always be remembered in the AOS community.

Catherine and Will are parents to Sam ’18, Lizzy ’20, and Fairfax ’21 and have been dedicated volunteers at AOS since 2009. Will served for six years as a member of the Board of Trustees, serving on the Board’s Executive Committee, and as a member of the Advancement Committee, Diversity Committee, and the Phase 1 Building Steering Committee. He continues to serve on the ad hoc Endowment Committee. Catherine has seemingly chaired every PTC event, from the Back to School Breakfast, Grandparents & Special Friends Day, Olympics, Orientation, and Night of the Arts. She was also a room parent for many years and volunteered her time on the Annual Fund Committee. Catherine and Will were both instrumental members of the Carry the Torch Campaign Committee, and we will be forever grateful for their leadership and dedication on that important committee. Catherine and Will have always been committed and active participants of the community. They could always be spotted cheering on the AOS Dolphins and supplying the AOS sports teams with their favorite snacks. They have made long lasting marks on AOS in many ways, both large and small, and they will be remembered for their faithful service to our school and for their kindness, sense of humor, warmth, and generosity. THE DELPHIAN I FALL 2021 25

Class of 2017 College Matriculation

OH, THE PLACES YOU’LL GO American University Turner Clarke Beck Hassen

Cisco College Gunnar Brown Baseball

Auburn University Kate Phillips

Clemson Roberto Cortes

Baylor Hinano Adachi Academic Scholarship Jami Rassy

Colorado School of Mines Brianna Espinoza Merit Scholarship

Boston University Lillian Tanabe Carnegie Mellon Jake Siegel

Cornell University Jessica Harris Georgetown University William Hobbs


Harvard University Alexa Theofanidis Ellen Clayton Garwood Scholarship Award for Creative Writing Haverford College Maggie McCarthy Howard University Madison Phillips Academic Scholarship Lafayette College Nicholas Sorak Marquis Fellow Award

Lewis and Clark College Mia Stankowski Faculty Scholorship Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles Miles Gillan Cross Country/Track St. Ignatius Academic Scholarship Loyola University, Chicago Hannah Johnston Loyola Scholarship and Jesuit Scholarship McGill University Lyndon Walsh Northwestern University Alena Haney Old Dominion University Andrew Lambakis Rice University Everett Adkins Mary Mikos Sewanee Quinn Lane Mary Carol Ray Christopher Rives Soccer Southern Methodist University Jack Pearson Artemis Postolos St. Edward's University George Catechis President's Gold Scholarship Stanford University Georgios Mikos Tarleton State University McLean Dickson Texas A&M University Chloe Butler Peter Corbett Nickolas Kanakidis Christopher Kelley

Texas Christian University Addie Elmer Purple & White Scholarship Ford Johnson Oliver King Kate Mytchak Faculty Scholarship McKenna Whitney

University of Oklahoma Paris Bailey

Tulane University Campbell Craft Lola Herndon Arielle Herrera Founders Award Chris Lewis Mills McCormick Founders Award & Honors Scholar Audrey Reed Academic Recognition Award

University of Southern California Sophia Reed

United States Naval Academy Mimi McHugh

Pole Vault

University College London Cade Williams University of Chicago Jack Sullo Zane Gillan Cross Country/Track Academic Scholarship University of Georgia Andrew Heyser University of Houston (Honors College) Camille McFarland National Merit Scholarship

University of Richmond Bethany Bradley University of Rochester Catherine Dang Dean's Scholarship

University of St. Thomas Stephano Cotsoradis Academic Scholarship University of Texas Basil Anaipakos AHEPA Scholarship Lucy Bennett Elena Cokinos Tatum Dutherage Rahul Rupani Jackson Teheng Asha Thekdi Helena Tsigos University of Texas San Antonio (UT Austin CAP) Carter Bentsen Rugby Unreported Alexander Conrad Hagin Gerhardt Eleanor Ryan Kevin Schott

University of Miami Isabella Posoli University of Michigan Tristan Heim Ella Kalapatapu University of Mississippi Kyra Rushing


Alumni Spotlight:

ALEXANDRA SCHWENKE ’00 Alex Schwenke is owner and founder of Mesh by Alex, a stationery company specializing in letterpress printing, illustration, watercolor, and calligraphy. She recently redesigned AOS' graduation stationery package including our diploma, invitation, and program. For more information, visit How has an AOS education shaped who you are today? The friendships I made at AOS have been so steadfast. In every decade of life, we are there for each other no matter the distance. What is your favorite artistic memory from AOS? One of my favorite annual activities was designing the flags for our Olympic teams. Who or what inspired you to turn your passion into a business? A mother of an old AOS classmate actually! She was also my Sunday school teacher at St. Luke's. She was always so encouraging of my work and connected me with a designer who trained me and pushed me to the next level. 28 ANNUNCIATION ORTHODOX SCHOOL

What is your greatest professional accomplishment? Mesh by Alex is among a handful of really wonderful Houston-based stationers doing custom work. I'm proud it has grown quite rapidly in the last couple of years. I was able to raise $10,000 in COVID relief funds which I donated to four of my favorite charities in 2020. What advice do you have for the next generation of artists at AOS? Have fun! Enjoy what you make and push your imagination! Don't be afraid to be the only person in your grade that doesn't play a single'll be okay. What is one goal you hope to accomplish next? I am just SO hopeful that some time in 2022 it will be safe enough to take a really wonderful long trip! I LOVE what I do, but creativity needs to be fed!


Save the Date



The AOS Alumni Committee is made up of our Alumni Council and our Class Representatives. The Alumni Council is composed of five working groups that help the Advancement Office connect with and engage our alumni in various ways. These working groups include fundraising, communications, reunions and events, the 50th anniversary, and young alumni. We are excited to welcome such a dynamic group of alumni to our 2021-2022 Alumni Committee and are eager to see the unique and creative ways they help us continue to connect with our alumni of all ages.

AOS Night at the Original Greek Festival

50th Anniversary James Brooks ’01 Ashley (Waters) Trauber ’05

Communications Jackie (Effenson) Cowherd ’97 Kaitlin (McGlaughlin) Necas ’02 Homa Shalchi ’09

Fundraising Kelli Lilienstern ’96 William Venzke ’03 Trevor Konopka ’06

Reunions/Events Grace Gibson ’02 Nina Masterson ’02 Charlsie Neutzler ’06

Young Alumni Ella Kalapatapu ’17 Isabella Posoli ’17 Evan Ecklund ’18 Naya Rhemtulla ’18 Wilson Bailey ’19 Arianna Doss ’19

Class Representatives Emma (Simmons) Anselmi ’98 Lanier Brooks ’98 Janikka Bratton ’00 Megan (Kaldis) Williams ’01 Michael Kelly ’02 Wiliam Venzke ’03 Ashley (Waters) Trauber ’05 Riley Calkins ’07 John Peter Koinis ’08 Erin Granberry ’09 Tatum Dutherage ’17 Jessica Harris ’17 Sophie Butler ’18 Thierry Chu ’18 Margaret Hammond ’18 Michael Posoli ’18 Olivia Chapman ’19 Landon Foltz ’19 Bond Hassen ’19 Anna Kalapatapu ’19

Thursday, October 7 5:30 PM AOS/AGOC Meet at AOS before heading over to the Greek Festival! Spaghetti Dinner Wednesday, October 20 4:00-6:00 PM AOS Campus Enjoy Mrs. Nikkie's famous Greek spaghetti at this long-standing, AOS-favorite event! Purchase tickets at Alumni Happy Hour Thursday, November 18 5:30-7:30 PM Location TBD All alumni 21+ are welcome to this joint event with our friends from Presbyterian and River Oaks Baptist School.

To stay up to date on all AOS alumni events, visit


ALUMNI CLASS NOTES Isabel Greiner ’04 welcomed her baby boy, Haskell Frederick Avidan, on September 29, 2020. It has been a beautiful, exciting, and sleepy year for them so far!

Katie (Hall) Schexnayder ’98 recently joined

Greenwood King Properties at the Kirby office. After a 10 year career as a social worker, she made the switch to real estate and is loving it!

Arabella Erika (di Bagno Guidi) Hibbert ’98 and

James Ely Hibbert, Jr. welcomed their second child, Thomas Max Hibbert, on September 28, 2020.

Keefer Lehner ’99 tied the knot on March 20, 2021, in Houston. The photo features Will Evans and Matt Yale, fellow ’99 AOS graduates who were two of

Sophia Solé ’13 graduated from Stanford University with her bachelor's and master's in management science and engineering. She recently joined Morgan Stanley's San Francisco Office as an investment banking analyst. She is pictured with her family (Camille Solé

’19, Charlie Solé ’19, and AnaClare Solé ’15).


Since graduating from AOS, Christina Wang ’07 has earned a degree from Yale in economics, and has worked for several different companies including Visa and a nonprofit startup out of MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She also worked on a 2020 presidential primary campaign in Iowa. She is currently pursuing an MBA/MA dual-degree at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. She spent her summer in between San Diego and Philadelphia, and outside of her internship, she hopes to have the time to read, surf, explore building a life coaching business, and travel to see her family and friends!

Cia Pappas ’13 graduated

from TCU - Harris College of Nursing on May 8, 2021. She began her dream job as a nurse with Texas Children's Hematology/Oncology department in July.

Jake Siegel ’17 graduated from Episcopal High School as salutatorian of his class.

Zach Gillan ’03 and his

wife Cherie welcomed their first child, Alice Marigold Gillan, on May 23, 2021. Alice is settling in nicely to her new surroundings in Alexandria, Virginia.

This past winter, Allana Webb ’14 had the privilege of going on a mission trip to Lusaka, Zambia with Africa Freedom Mission. The Mission helped local organizations with their needs and partnered with them to spread the gospel. She will never forget this life-changing trip.

Maria-Eleni (Koinis) Soechting ’03 and her husband Chad welcomed their second child, Eleni Caroline, on April 8, 2021.

Madison Phillips ’17 graduated from St. Agnes and is currently attending Howard University. She is pictured with Kate Phillips ’17 (middle) and Isabella Posoli ’17 (left). John Lilly ’12 attended Strake Jesuit where he Lanier Brooks ’98 recently

launched her passion project, LuxeJH, a high-end luxury concierge service in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

was named to the Houston Chronicle All Greater Houston Football Team. He recently finished his Division 1 career as a college senior, and he is the first Dolphin to play football for the Longhorns. He is pictured with his parents and brother, James. James ’15 plays lacross for Southwestern University.


ALUMNI CLASS NOTES In 2019, Natalie Ou ’16 and a fellow Kinkaid classmate PROCLAMATION founded Vaccines4Good, an organization aimed at getting flu clinics into local schools. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, they worked in a mobile van that provided childhood vaccines to underserved communities go and translated information for Spanish-speaking families. Natalie and her classmate have since become Vaccine Ambassadors for Houston Fights COVID and were recognized for their efforts by Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. *



Mimi McHugh ’17 graduated from St. Agnes and attends the US Naval Academy where she is also a part of the track and field team.

WHEREAS, Grace Beilstein and Natalie Ou, rising seniors at the Kinkaid School, founded a vaccine organization called Vaccines4Good in 2019 in an effort to get flu clinics in local schools; and

WHEREAS, in June, July, and August 2020, during the height of the pandemic, they worked in a mobile van that provided childhood vaccines to underserved communities, including Hempstead Mobile Clinic, the Vietnamese American Community Center, Northwest Assistance Ministries, Mendenhall Community Center, Christus Point of Light Back-to-School Clinic, and Northwest Assistance Ministries Back-to-School; and WHEREAS, Grace and Natalie translated for Spanish speaking families, helped fill out school vaccination records, and followed COVID-19 prevention protocols to minimize exposure; and

WHEREAS, they have since become Vaccine Ambassadors for Houston Fights COVID and were part of the Moderna vaccine trial for teens and remain active on social media communicating information on vaccines to underserved communities: now, therefore I, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, commend

Grace Beilstein and Natalie Ou

in Harris County, Texas1 and appreciate their efforts to ensure everyone has access to vaccines and related health information. In testimony whereof, I hereunto signed my name and caused the seal of Harris County, Texas, to be affixed.

Kara (Koinis) Bergerson ’06 and her husband,

Alec, welcomed their second child, Dean, on October 20, 2020.

County Judge

On January 27, 2021, Staff Sergeant Jimmy Moriarty '03 was posthumously awarded the Silver Star Medal, one of the US Military's highest honors, for his gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States while serving in Jordan in 2016.

Chris Ulsh ’02, with his

band Power Trip, was nominated for Best Medal Performance at the 2020 GRAMMY Awards.

Seventeen young men from the AOS Class of 2017 graduated from Strake Jesuit. The photo features Beck Hassen, Christopher Lewis, Zane Gillan, Basil Anaipakos, and Christopher Kelley in the back row, and Kevin Schott, Carter Bentsen,

Mills McCormick, Miles Gillan, Jack Pearson, Roberto Cortes, and Jack Teheng in the front row. George Catechis, McLean Dickson, Hagin Gerhardt, Oliver King, and Quinn Lane are not pictured.


THE DELPHIAN The Delphian is published annually by the Communications Office, with support from the Advancement Office. It is sent to alumni, current parents, grandparents, and friends of the school who wish to receive it.

Fall 2021

Administration Team Head of School

Dr. Samuel V. Fragomeni

Director of Extended Day

Editor in Chief

Emily Benton

Senior Editor

Jill Buja

Contributing Editors

Sharon Corbett

Isabelle Dom Penny Angelo

Director of Advancement Head of Early Childhood & Lower School Director of Communications

Jill Buja Katherine (Koinis) Monk ’01

Isabelle Dom


Assistant Head of Early Childhood & Lower School

Graphic Design

Alisa Eng

Alan Ross, AOS Faculty and Staff, and AOS Community Danielle Garbouchian

Kelley Elliott

Director of Curriculum & Instructional Support Director of Technology

Patrick Foye

Assistant Head of Middle School Crystal Frommert

Head of Middle School

Heather Haas

Director of Admission

Molly Khalil

Director of Finance & Operations

Bryant Richardson

Director of Physical Education & Athletics

Ron Robinson

Assistant to the Head of School Colleen Wade

Above: Meredith Skinner '23 participating in the density project with 6th Grade Science Teacher Lucy Barnard.



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