March 28, 2015
Nyack, NY: Bishop Nicholas visits Holy Virgin Protection Church’s Parish School

On Saturday, March 14, His Grace Nicholas, Bishop of Manhattan, paid a visit to the parish Russian School of Holy Virgin Protection Church in Nyack, NY, in order to spend the school day with the students and teachers, and take part in the school’s daily life.

Nyack’s Russian School is the oldest parish school on the East Coast, founded 60 years ago by Archpriest Seraphim Slobodskoy, the parish’s longtime rector and author of The Law of God, a textbook renowned not only around America, but now in Russia, as well. The parish school’s students use the book to this very day. There are currently over 100 students enrolled in the school, ages 4-17. Classes are held on Saturdays from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM. All subjects are taught in Russian: the Law of God, Russian Language, Reading, Russian Literature, Russian History, Singing, and Geography. This year, 23 teachers teach at the school, all volunteers.

Upon arrival, His Grace was greeted by Archpriest Ilya Gorsky, vice principal of the Russian School and longtime teacher of the Old & New Testaments. Bishop Nicholas was then joyfully greeted by the school’s youngest students – children from kindergarten and the preparatory and first grades: they sang, performing a short concert for His Grace, along with their teachers – Matushka Nina Arefiev and Alexandra Kulesha, and then all came up together to receive the bishop’s blessing. The preparatory grade, under the instruction of Matushka Larissa Belikow, recited a poem to His Grace together, and then presented him with a gift: a jar of strawberry jam.

Protodeacon Serge Arlievsky, director of studies and teacher of the Law of God, then took Bishop Nicholas class-to-class, sharing with him details of the parish school’s the day-to-day life, its joys and sorrows. His Grace led a talk with the upperclassmen, telling the youth about the significance of Orthodoxy in our life, and about what it means to be a Russian Orthodox person in the modern world. He called upon the young men and women to always remain in the Church. The next class for the bishop was singing, which he attended along with the middle school-aged students under the direction of their experienced and longtime teacher Irina Serdsev.

After leading the student body in prayer, Bishop Nicholas ate lunch with all of the students in the parish hall, and after the end of the school day and a group photo, was invited to be the guest of honor at the school’s annual Poetry Recitation Contest. Thirty-four students took part in the contest: the youngest read poems by Marshak, Barto, and Nikitin, while the older students recited works from Pushkin, Lermontov, and Yesenin, and even two original poems. The difficult task of determining the winners rested on the shoulders of the judges’ panel, comprised of schoolteachers Archpriest Yaroslav Belikow (Law of God) and Elena Kelley (Russian & History), as well as alumna Ksenia Kudinov, who graduated the Russian School in 2014 and is currently helping as a teacher’s assistant.

At the end of the day, Bishop Nicholas addressed everyone with a short word on how delighted he was by his impressions and his day spent at the Russian School, and wished them further success in the education of children and youth in Orthodoxy, finally calling on all to absolutely preserve their love for God and for one another.