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

Honoring Louis Kokonis: A Celebration of Historical Service

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A picture of Louis Kokonis and a wreath displayed on stage.

On Wednesday, January 17, 2024, Alexandria City High School hosted a memorial for Louis Kokonis. At 91, Kokonis passed away on Thursday, January 4, 2024. He spent over 60 years teaching math in Alexandria City Public Schools. Kokonis’ passing brought members of the ACPS community, his family, and many others together to celebrate him on January 17. 

Kokonis’ memorial was held in the auditorium of the ACHS King Street campus. Before entering, members of the ACHS Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps handed out programs.  As people began to file in, the ACHS Chamber Orchestra greeted attendees with “Canon” by Pachelbel. As the Orchestra played, a slideshow scrolled through pictures of Kokonis throughout the years.

At 4:30pm, ACHS Principal, Alexander Duncan, kicked off the memorial with his welcoming remarks. “We have gathered here today in this one place, as one city, and one community, to celebrate and memorialize the remarkable journey, historical career, and incredible life of our colleague, friend, and a forever titan, Mr. Louis Kokonis,” said Duncan. 

“The ACPS community, in particular ACHS, is so very grateful to Mr. Kokonis for his dedicated years of service to the teaching profession and to ensuring all students receive a high quality education,” said ACPS Superintendent, Melanie Kay-Wyatt. 

Both Duncan and Kay-Wyatt could not emphasize enough how big of an impact Kokonis left of ACPS. They both commented on how inspiring his dedication to ACPS was and the great amount of lives that he touched. 

“We have been overwhelmed by the amount of support we have received from the Alexandria City school system and community. We have heard so many wonderful stories over the last two weeks about Lou,” said Kokonis’ great niece, Nicole Hylton. Hylton made the audience chuckle when she shared how Kokonis would “come here on the weekend even when there was construction going on and he had to wear a hard hat.” “When I think about him the two qualities that come to mind are kindness and passion. Lou was kind to everyone whether they were a student or a server at a restaurant,” said Hylton.

Proceeding Hylton’s description of her heartfelt memories with her Uncle Lou, the ACHS Chorus performed “O Love” by Elaine Hagenberg. 

Kokonis had a special way of bringing out the best in his students. “He was understanding. He saw more in his students than they could see in themselves. Consequently, they found success even when they had doubt,” said Carolyn Lewis. 

Former ACHS Principal, Peter Balas, returned to King Street to honor Kokonis. Balas shared the story of when the two of them drove through the Scottish Day Parade to celebrate the Kokonis’ 60 years of service. “At one point Lou turned to me and said “I hope I’m not taking up space for important people who really deserve to be here.” I immediately asked him, “Lou, what are you talking about?” He said “I don’t understand the big deal; I’m just doing my job.” […] I was struck by his humility. What a humble man,” said Balas. 

Balas made it clear that even though Kokonis had done incredible things for the ACPS community, he never expected anything in return for doing so. The ACHS Chorus followed Balas’ remarks with “You’ll Never Walk Alone” by Mark Hayes.

Former ACHS Principal, John Porter, also made his remarks on Kokonis’ legacy. “During his career, Lou had a direct impact on thousands of kids that he taught. Additionally he taught multiple generations of families,” said Porter. Students of Kokonis left his class more than prepared for the next level of math. “His former students would many times note that their college math classes were much easier than what they had experienced with Lou,” said Porter.

Kokonis created a warm and welcoming environment for his students. “His presence always made the room feel warm and comfortable. From dedicating his time to helping students, to giving us donuts and pizza during class, Mr. Kokonis was one of the kindest people I have ever met,” said 2022-2024 student of Kokonis, Thomas Lane. 

2023-2024 student of Kokonis, Sehar Saba, told the story of her last interaction with him. “As I held the door, we said our goodbyes. He told me that he would see me on friday or soon, but now I know that I was the last person at ACHS to see him. I am sad that I won’t be seeing him anymore, but I am happy that we got to spend time together and make good memories,” said Saba.

“Kokonis’s students, numbering in the thousands, have quite literally changed the world. Mr. Kokonis has changed the world. He sculpted a brighter future for thousands of people who share his dedication to math,” former student of Kokonis, Taylor Hoganson.

Once Kokonis’ former students finished up their remarks, Principal Duncan closed out the memorial. “I would like to commission us all as we leave the auditorium to commit ourselves to leading lives that are rooted in [passion and purpose]. Not just work that we tend to for our livelihoods and our financial obligations, but work that will invigorate the lives of those who have crossed our path,” said Duncan.

 

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