Next year, the Greek Orthodox Community of Oakleigh and District will celebrate its 60th anniversary and its flagship school, Oakleigh Grammar, will celebrate its 40th anniversary.
To mark these significant milestones, it was announced yesterday at the School’s Conference Centre that 10 buildings on the Oakleigh Grammar School grounds will be named after Hellenes who have become successful since migrating to Australia.
“These significant anniversaries present a fitting opportunity to celebrate our School’s Hellenic foundation by honouring Hellene leaders that have positively impacted our local community and our Australian nation more broadly”, President and Chairman of the Oakleigh Grammar Board, Chris Damatopoulos said.
“By naming our School buildings after inspirational leaders and members of our community, we hope to inspire thousands of students and families for generations to come”, he continued.
The first building to be named is the Centre for Academic Excellence which is still under construction and scheduled for opening on the Feast Day of Saint Anargiri on November 1 this year.
The building will be called the ‘Nick and Poly Nikolakakis Foundation Centre for Academic Excellence’ in a sponsorship deal with the highly successful Nikolakakis family.
The building is named in commemoration of Nick and Poly Nikolakakis who established their business Nikpol as a small two-man operation in 1978, and which is now an Australian market-leading renovation and commercial joinery supplier with over 140 employees in three locations.
The recruitment of Nick and Poly’s first son, John followed later by son Spiro, saw Nikpol undertake substantial expansion into total kitchen solutions adding a wide range of hardware as well as post-formed laminate benchtop production.
Having secured distribution deals with many of Europe’s leading manufacturers including Grass, Egger, Motivi, Renolit and Metakor, the Nikpol name is now synonymous with the best in European design and innovation.
“Nick and Poly Nikolakakis were most faithful parishioners of our Church since its inception, and they were outstanding and inspiring role models for their family and our community, so it is a fitting tribute,” Mr Damatopoulos said.
Sons John and Spiro Nikolakakis said the decision to take up naming rights of the Nick and Poly Nikolakakis Foundation Centre for Excellence was an easy one.
“Our parents were strong advocates for Oakleigh and the School, and we know they would have been really pleased for us to be involved,” Spiro Nikolakakis said.
“My mother especially would have loved it – she left Crete for Australia in 1964, and was one of the few of that generation that finished high school. She always emphasised the importance of a strong education.
“My parents started Nikpol, and John and I started after we finished our studies. The business of course has changed and grown a lot, products have changed, and as have our customers, but we have tried our best to keep our culture constant.”
As for John, he said: “While the business is a functioning embodiment of my parents’ legacy, there is something very special about having the family name recognised in this way.
More than just a tribute, the brothers believe in giving back and helping their community.
“John and I are idealists, we like to dream. We asked ourselves, ‘Why can’t Oakleigh Grammar be as good, or better than the best schools in Melbourne?’,” Spiro said.
“In our business, the most rewarding thing for us is seeing our people grow and develop.
“We hope that our sponsorship of the Nikolakakis Centre for Academic Excellence helps in some small way to provide the infrastructure and support for Oakleigh Grammar students to further grow and develop, and like us, to face challenges and stay ahead.”
“We have a real love for Oakleigh. Our kids spent time at the School, and we have built some strong relationships with the Church and School administrators. We are proud that to have made this step into serious philanthropy”, concluded John.
In concluding, Damatopoulos noted that naming rights to a further four of the remaining nine buildings on the Oakleigh Grammar campus are under negotiation with community leaders.