The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

Still Coo Coo for Koko

Lou+Kokonis+at+his+celebration+of+60+years.
Lou Kokonis at his celebration of 60 years.

Louis Kokonis Celebrates 60 Years of Teaching With a Scholarship

Ben Vastola, Victor Vassallo and Daniel Fox

Koko, The Dustbuster, Louie the Legend. All of these are names that people remember 86 year-old TC legend Louis Kokonis by in his 60 years of teaching math in ACPS, but now he’ll also be remembered for his new groundbreaking scholarship: The Louis Kokonis Teaching Legend Scholarship.

The reception for the scholarship on January 11 was attended by alumni, teachers, students, and members of the Alexandria community. The event had been planned for the past few months to properly honor Kokonis, who has been teaching since 1959. Beth Lovain, the Director of the Scholarship Fund of Alexandria, said, “Groups of students and parents of former students had already been funding a scholarship and they wanted to do something to recognize the 60 years, so we worked with that committee to put the event together. This whole event has been really humbling for me to see how much his former students and their parents cared. The messages they have been sending, the fact that there are students here that had him 40 years ago came here today.”

Kokonis holds the giant check for the $16,500 scholarship awarded in his name.

The Scholarship Fund of Alexandria has been working since 1986 to help students get into college. Over 4,500 TC students, totalling over $13.5 million has been awarded to students with financial needs to help them go to college, according to the Scholarship Fund of Alexandria. 

The scholarship has been well supported by the Alexandria community. Lovain said, “The scholarship has already raised more than $15,000 and will provide five additional scholarships to be given to TC students.” Most of the scholarships range from $3,000 to $5,000. The money raised for the scholarship has already exceeded the amount raised by any teacher recognition scholarship in the 33 year year history of the event with “gifts, letters and donations pouring in from people who graduated in the 1960s and 1970s”, said Principal Peter Balas.

Balas is also one of the first people to recognize Kokonis’ commitment to the school and his students.

“I’ve known Mr. Kokonis since this building opened in 2007 when I started working as an assistant principal here. As somebody that gets here pretty early and leaves late myself, sometimes his car is still here and he’s still working. Sometimes he even beats me to the building.” 

Former and current students are also quick to shower Kokonis with appreciation. 

Class of 1988 graduate and former student Ed Chamberlayne said, “What I remember is he was the most patient man and always took the time to explain the problem.” 

At his reception, Kokonis poses next to a photo from his first years of teaching.

A current student of Kokonis and Junior Ian Schleigel said, “It’s amazing to be taught by someone as old as him because it is inspiring to see someone with so much energy after teaching for six decades. My favorite moment with Mr. Kokonis was on one of the first days of school. He pulled out some balloons and asked if we wanted to play with them. It just seemed so sweet that he wanted us to have fun in is class.”

Not only has Kokonis developed a close connection with his students, but with his colleagues as well. Fellow teacher Martin Nickley has been working with Kokonis since 1981 and has bonded with him over the more than 30 years of teaching they have shared with each other. 

Nickley said, “First of all, it has been a friendship, but more than that he is a friend and a mentor. I think we are very lucky to have had someone of his caliber and the amount of time and effort and energy and concern that he has put in all those years and for the generations of students that have been able to benefit from his teaching.”

Principal Balas presents Kokonis with a personalized parking sign.

Over the years, the man for whom the scholarship is named is yet to grow accustomed to the attention he has received. The scholarship is just the most recent light to be shined on the teacher who was interviewed by The Washington Post in October 2018 and has been repeatedly profiled by different organizations in the Alexandria community in the past few months. Kokonis said, “I didn’t think I would generate all this news. I was surprised by the scholarship and all the people who helped raise money. I hope it will help a lot of students.”

Even though he has been teaching for 60 years, the mathematics legend has no plans to retire. Kokonis said, “I am glad that I am still teaching. I am not sure when I will stop. I haven’t given it much thought.”

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Still Coo Coo for Koko