Golden Memories from School
Konstantinos Stylianou ‘02: Golden Memories from School
Konstantinos Stylianou, Mandoulides Schools graduate of 2002 and current Professor of Law at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom, accepted our invitation to be interviewed and remembered his school life at Mandoulides Schools. He made special reference to his old school and teachers as well as to what inspired him and had an impact on his future academic and professional career.
Being a student at Mandoulides Schools made me feel secure and shaped my current personality
He has built a strong-tie relationship with Mandoulides Schools, as all his primary and secondary education took place in the Schools. After graduating from Senior High School, he studied Law at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, where he completed his first postgraduate program as well. He argues that he received stimuli from Mandoulides Schools that urged him to want to pursue studies in universities abroad and specifically in the USA. He completed a postgraduate program at Harvard University as well as a doctorate program at UPenn. He stayed in the USA for six years. Later on, he worked in Brazil and returned to Europe in order to work as a professor of Law in one of the greatest universities in the United Kingdom, the University of Leeds.
What can he remember from his first days at Mandoulides Schools in the decade of 1990?
What impacted me the most when I was very young was the zoo that could be found on the Elementary School premises (which does not exist now if I am not mistaken). It was extraordinary for a child of 6 or 7 years of age to have access to a zoo on a daily basis. I can recall some monkeys that we could see, but weren’t allowed to feed. However, being young kids who wanted to object to that, we would give them food in secret in order to make them approach us more. I used to go near the zoo during every break. It is rare for children living in cities to have such close contact with animals. It was a wonderful experience for me and a significant detail of my school life at Mandoulides Schools.
My relationship with the teachers
I used to maintain a great relationship with my teachers, as I was easy-going, performed well in school subjects and never caused them any trouble.
What really impressed me throughout the 12 years that I spent in this school was the variety of teachers that I cooperated with. I encountered various types of teachers: from the very strict ones to more friendly ones, from very young to older ones. I became acquainted with all types of teachers. I was very close with some of them, whereas not so close with some others. Nevertheless, the important thing is that I was in touch with different individuals, while trying to maintain a good relationship with all of them. My interaction with teachers was really interesting and fulfilling.
Mandoulides Schools have reinforced my talents…
There were various Clubs and activities available at school that helped us discover our personal skills. I engaged in playing table tennis. There was a terrific and distinguished athlete at Mandoulides Schools who helped me a lot. In addition, foreign language learning was of top quality.
What I regret is that I didn’t avail myself of the opportunities I was offered to get more involved in art. There were acknowledged artists at our school and I regret not having participated in art programs. Of course, there is always time to engage in art later in life, but it would have been preferable if I had done it back then.
The overall feeling of my school life is really positive. A main characteristic of Mandoulides Schools is that there is great discipline. Students did not exhibit disobedient behavior, which is common in other schools and decreases the quality of school life. In our school, students had many opportunities to develop themselves, meet other people and engage in the activities they liked. This led us to develop our personalities and maintain a positive atmosphere in the school environment. I remember that as a student I used to have a lot of stress which posed obstacles and didn’t let me enjoy all the opportunities available. In general, the school was a safe space as well as disciplined and multicultural. The school environment was of high quality and helped us develop and shape our personalities.
Panhellenic examinations - a crucial stage of students’ lives
The time period preceding my admission to university wasn’t very dramatic. It was characterized by a certain amount of difficulty, but within reasonable limits. In fact, the final year of High School revolves around the Panhellenic exams for all Senior High School students irrespective of the path they will follow after school. The preparation for the Panhellenic exams was difficult for me, but no harder than it should be. We received a lot of support from our school. At the same time, we attended private lessons at home or afternoon lessons at a tutorial school for secondary education due to the pressure students receive to do so. In addition, the additional textbooks that the school gave us were really helpful. A lot of teachers had prepared their own textbooks with extra material and activities. As a student I focused on the subjects related to the Humanities and I remember that our additional textbook on Ancient Greek was terrific. The Ancient Greek lessons were of top quality even in comparison with private lessons. In general, we received exceptional preparation for the Panhellenic exams from our school. As regards the procedure of the preparation for the exams, I think that no school can transform it into a pleasant experience.
The tools that I have received from school
Mandoulides Schools have benefited me in three ways. The first refers to the people I met there. I became acquainted with so many remarkable individuals. I established great friendships, which I have managed to maintain until today.
The second refers to the fact that the school encouraged us to get informed about the current affairs and build our social network. When I was an Elementary School student, Nikos Galis came to our school to talk to us. It was during the ‘90s, when he was at the peak of his career. When I mentioned to my friends that Nikos Galis visited my school and talked to us, no one believed me. It seemed really extraordinary to them that a school was able to invite Nikos Galis and host a discussion between him and the students. From my side, I was wondering why my friends could not believe it. It was common for our school to invite distinguished individuals to have a conversation with us. Thus, we had the chance to meet various athletes, artists and scientists. Although meeting such people at school seemed natural to me, it was not the norm. I realized that later when I reconsidered my friends’ initial reaction. Such stimuli that I received from school helped me discover new things, acquire general knowledge and keep up with the current affairs.
The third way in which the school benefited me is related to its global orientation. This applies to its contact with universities abroad, trips to foreign countries, educational programs as well as exchange programs. All these took place annually. As a student, I tried to participate in one of these every year. They were wonderful experiences, which I took for granted. However, such experiences are rare to be offered even by universities abroad.
Trips to other counties
My experience of studying and living in the USA for six years was a result of the stimuli I received from school. Since that time and up until today, the school provides students who want to study abroad with the opportunity to attend preparation courses free of charge. I didn’t avail myself of this opportunity, as I wanted to obtain my Bachelor’s degree from a Greek university. I don’t regret that. I had started attending the preparation courses, but I soon quit. Nevertheless, my desire to study in the USA had already arisen. I remember that during my first year of being an undergraduate student at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, I was delighted that I was a student at a Greek university, but I knew that later on I would pursue studies abroad. During the first years that I was in Junior High School, I had the goal to study in Germany, since I was interested in Law and the Greek legislation system bears similarities with the German one. However, witnessing the effort of our school to facilitate students’ admissions to universities in the USA and their receiving scholarships made me consider the idea of pursuing studies in the USA, which was realized in the end. After obtaining my Bachelor’s degree at the Aristotle University, I attended a postgraduate program at Harvard University and later on I completed my PhD at UPenn. The whole experience of studying in the USA was the result of the motivation I received from school. It should be mentioned that in both American universities where I studied, I encountered Greek people that I had met at the Junior-Senior High School of Mandoulides Schools. In fact, not only is there a Greek community in the USA, but a Mandoulides Schools community as well.
Willing to support the efforts of Mandoulides Schools
I keep in touch with my school. Given that I live abroad, I attend the events organized by the Mandoulides Schools Alumni Association as often as possible. I have visited the school many times since my graduation. I really enjoy participating in lectures via the 100mentors platform. I have accepted the invitations of the school to talk with students of the Junior-Senior High School and I am willing to continue doing so. I would also like to keep in touch with those who want to pursue an academic and professional career abroad. I would like to have the chance to participate in a school conference or seminar in relation to my field. I have gained a lot from this school and I am willing to reciprocate.
Evangelos Mandoulidis. What I can remember.
What I have to say about Mr Mandoulidis is the following: I was afraid of him. I used to be afraid of him throughout the 12 yeas that I was a student in this school. Even after my graduation and outside the school environment, I would still be afraid of him if I was to encounter him. He was strict with us and had a very good relationship with our parents, which is of great importance. He treated us as if we were his own children, thus assuming the role of a strict parent. He treated parents as partners regarding our education. His presence at school was strong although he seemed distant. I remember that when I was in the 4h grade, he used to go into classrooms and observe the lessons. He sat at the back. Our teacher informed us that Mr Mandoulidis was about to attend our lesson and encouraged us to behave ourselves. During that lesson, I raised my hand and started talking. The teacher then asked me why my voice was shaking. My voice was certainly shaking, because Mr Mandoulidis was sitting near me. I’m not sure why I was so afraid of him. He was an individual that influenced me greatly. I spent a lot of years in school and I remember him very well. I used to see him in school every day, as he attended the morning prayers. Actually, Mr Mandoulidis’ accomplishment is not a matter of opinion. This man started working at a tutorial school for secondary education and within 20 years he managed to create one of the best schools in Greece. This is an immense achievement. Being older now and having graduated from school, I believe I fully appreciate and admire him for what he accomplished. I would appreciate having the chance to talk to him now that almost 20 years have passed since my graduation. I was on the premises of the Lawyers’ Association in Thessaloniki when in 2007 I was informed that he passed away. It was a big shock for me, because not many years had passed since my graduation and the memories from school were still powerful. Therefore, I hope that the young people of today will appreciate his legacy and I am really glad that the school continues to honour his memory.