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Coordinates: The Lycée Léonin (Greek: Λεόντειο Λύκειο) is the oldest independent educational institution in Athens, Greece. The school belongs to the Catholic Church and is run by the Community of the Marist Brothers (Frères Maristes), a group of Catholic monks dedicated to education. It is a non-profit co-educational private school, founded in 1838. The school has campuses in Nea Smyrni and Patissia.
On July 25, 1838, approximately 14 months from the official opening of the Kapodistrian University of Athens, the Catholic priest Constantine Sargologos was granted, "on the order of the Ecclesiastic and Public Education of Royal Secretariat Territory", authorization for the foundation of a primary school. The new school was named after the patron saint of Athens, St. Dionysius the Areopagite, and functioned somewhere in Plaka.
The St. Dionysius School had been working humbly and silently until 1889, a year when the Catholic Bishop of Athens achieved its extension in a school with two study circles (elementary and secondary) and was renamed "Lycée Léonin of St. Dionysius", in honor of the Pope Leo XIII, who admired Greece and helped financially with the materialization of this project.
In 1897, the school was transferred to the neoclassical building at 4, Sina Street. Despite its accommodation in one of the few fully equipped buildings of that time, Lycée Léonin underwent a decline from 1897 until 1907. Puzzled by this event, the Catholic Archbishop of Athens, decided to call and assign the school direction to the members of a fraternity of monks, who ran certain schools with similar principles in Istanbul. It was the Religious Community of the Marist Brothers.
The congregation of the Marist Brothers was founded in 1819 by a French priest and later Saint of the Catholic Church, Saint Marcellin Champagnat, in a mountainous village in central France. The founder of the congregation was born in 1789 and during the difficult years of the French Revolution, worked closely with young people, dedicating his life to their education. The monks of his congregation traveled around the world founding schools with the mission to educate all Christian youngsters.
On September 15, 1907, the Marist Brothers coming from Istanbul, reached Athens and began working in Lycée Léonin by undertaking its management. Due to its successful organization, the number of students was tripled.
In 1916, Lycée Léonin expanded to Patras, and the "St. Andrew" school was founded, which functioned until the end of World War II in 1945. Actually, this is the school in which the ex-President of the Hellenic Republic, Mr. Costis Stephanopoulos was taught the French Language.
Simultaneously, the Brothers are seriously thinking of creating a second school in the Athens region. The continuous increase in the number of students sets the problem for the discovery of new space to limit the number of students in the Sina building. After related processes and building work, the first wing of the new school in the Patissia area is inaugurated in October 1924. It is the “Lycée Léonin in Patissia” which will be expanded later on with new wings in the same area. Today, over 600 students attend primary school and over 1000 students attend both high school and lyceum.
When Greece joined the allied forces in World War II, the two Leonteio schools stopped functioning. Firstly, because of the continuous bombardments and secondly because of the German occupation. During this occupation, the Marist Brothers organized messes in the two schools’ residence, where they prepared and gave out 3000 portions of food daily. This offer, which constituted a real alleviation for thousands of hungry Athenians, lasted until April 1945.
In the beginning of the 1960s Lycée Léonin at Sina Street had already got 700 students in Primary school and High school. The building though, lacked sufficient space for so many students, did not correspond to the modern educational requirements. Thus, the purchase of a bigger property in the region of Nea Smyrni is decided. The school’s transportation is complete in September 1962. The new campus was inaugurated by the President of the French Republic, General Charles De Gaulle.
In 1963 “Chrysostomos Smyrnis” primary school is founded within the same property. This school is administratively independent from the group of Lycées Léonins, pedagogically however, it is inspired by the same Marist Brother principles.
Until September 1986, Leonteio school is only a boy school. After that, it becomes mixed. According to the relative law of the Ministry of Education, the first girls start attending high school.
On December 29, 1988, the Athens Academy, during its established congress festival at the end of the year, grants Lycée Léonin a Silver Medal and an Honorary Diploma for its 150 years of offer in the struggle for the improvement of Greek Education. In the 1990s, the Lycée Léonin building is equipped with new classrooms to teach foreign languages, computer classes and a theatre for cultural events. In 1999, "Chrysostomos Smyrnis" school is also administratively incorporated with Lycée Léonin in Nea Smyrni.
Ιn 1999, Lycée Léonin in Patissia inaugurates a new wing for the primary school, while in 2010 it inaugurates a new wing equipped with a swimming pool, a gym, classrooms, computer classes and a launch area.
Today, the two primary schools "Saint Dionysius" and "Chrysostomos Smyrnis" as well as the high school and lyceum of Lycée Léonin have approximately 1900 students. The school is directed by a Community of 6 Marian Brothers, who, with the help of their professors, school teachers and administrative employees, continue the institute’s mission to fully educate young people. This is achieved through the values of Pedagogy, Love, Presence and Simplicity.
Lycee Leonin has always been encouraging its students to participate in sports club.In particular,"Lycee Leonin's Sports Club",established in 1996,enabled students to practice their favorite sports,like soccer,basketball,volleyball,swimming,fencing,tennis,table-tennis and chess in the respective academies.
Except from sports activities,Lycee Leonin has notable cultural groups and students clubs in the High School,including the Theatre Club,the Film Club,the Dance Club,the Scenography Club,the Cooking Club,the Environment Club,the History Club and the Mathematics Club.Students in the Computer Club also print annual yearbooks and monthly newspapers.
Lycee Leonin is known for musical organizations, such as show choirs and orchestras, which have won numerous awards in music festivals and competitions in Greece.
Lycee Leonin is also known for its charity work. Students can offer clothes,food and money to people in need.It raises money by the students offering their money but as well from its bazaar which happens once a year.
The school also gives its students the chance to explore the various professions through the "Career Orientation Day",in which professionals from all the professions gather in the school to talk about their professions.
- Costis Stephanopoulos, former President of Greece.
- Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens.
- Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas, famous painter.
- Alec Issigonis, engineer and designer, developer of the Mini car.
- Thanos Kalliris, singer.
- Loukianos Kilaidonis, singer and composer.
- Ilias Mamalakis, television chef.
- Anastasios Peponis, former minister.
- Mimis Plessas, Greek composer.
- Lasgush Poradeci, Albanian poet.
- Ilias Psinakis, manager.
- Vangelis, Greek composer and Academy Award winner.
- Andreas Vgenopoulos, head of Marfin Investment Group.