History of the school
The Arany János Hungarian Week-end School developed from the former Family Circle operating in the Hungarian Cultural Centre. It was established in 1975 by Tamás Balogh and his wife Erzsike. The school began with 40 children in September, and by the end of the first school year it had expanded to 75 students from Grade 1-8. In the following years attendance grew to 140 students and curriculum expanded as well. Regular subjects taught in the morning were followed by cultural activities in the afternoon. These included choir, music, embroidery, egg painting, pottery, folk dancing, and practices to perform at various celebrations.
There was a change in leadership in 1983 when László Domonkos became the principal. In order to alleviate financial problems he established the annual School Ball. Patrons of the Ball helped to defray costs. The zither band was established at this time in the early 80’s.
In the spring term of the 1985-86 school year, Klara Szocs took over the leadership and served as principal until 2010. She started a language class for non-Hungarian speaking spouses (parents), which only lasted a couple of years due to weak attendance. She continued the organization of the School Ball, which by then had welcomed 400-450 guests on average. Attendance at the school at this time was around 120 students.
In 1990 the federal government withdrew support from foreign language programs, and an alternative solution was sought out through the Toronto School Board, allowing the classes to continue. Afternoon classes at this time included choir, folk dancing, and zither. The Farsangi Mulatság (Carneval) was also established. Zither classes ceased around the end of the nineties due to lack of interest; however, poetry recitation and reading competitions became an annual event.
Annual events include the Christmas Concert, Farsangi Mulatság (Carneval), poetry and reading competitions, egg painting, the Graduation and Closing Ceremonies, and a year end picnic.
In the 1970’s, students came mostly from new immigrant families. Today we have second and third generation children, children of mixed marriages, and children of refugee families, as well as some New Canadians.
Built on rich traditions, the Arany János Hungarian School was established in 1975, more than a quarter century ago. Our little community exemplifies an intimate family atmosphere. Klara Szocs, the principal from 1985 until 2010, has provided the incentive for fresh ideas to take root and grow. Her hard work, undaunted by fatigue, sets an example for parents and staff alike. She works together with the nine teaching staff and the Parents’ Association to organize activities and prepare our children for the various celebrations. Our teachers, all trained in Hungary, use the most up-to-date techniques and materials to teach children from Kindergarten to Grade 8. Since September 2000, we have expanded our programs with the use of computers being added to other subjects, such as Grammar, Geography, History, Literature, and Science. Students are eager to take part in our Choir and Folk Dance Group, performing at national holiday celebrations, annual seniors’ events, and Caravan.
Every year the children entertain the parents by preparing a Christmas Concert around a meticulously decorated tree, singing, dancing, reciting poetry, and putting on plays of the holiday season.
The long winter season takes a breather when we organize our annual Farsangi Mulatság (Carneval). Food and goodies are provided. Costumes are made by the parents, and prizes are given in the various age categories. The children can also take part in games and folk dancing.
Lessons in traditional egg painting highlight the Easter season. Children learn to draw traditional designs on the eggs using hot wax.
Our closing ceremonies are part of the Mothers’ Day celebration for which all children prepare with great enthusiasm. Parents sit with tears in their eyes at hearing their children perform so charmingly. All the guests are invited for snacks, and each mother receives a carnation. The final event of the year is the annual picnic where organized games alternate with snacks and barbeques.
We hope that this little community will flourish for a long time to come and provide continuity to our heritage. We encourage anyone interested to enroll their child in the Arany János Hungarian School. You will be welcomed.