The average education in the village was completion of the third grade in elementary school, either in Greek or Bulgarian-Macedonian. Most of our parents, grandparents, and great-grand-parents attended the Bulgarian-Macedonian schools before attending Greek schools.
The village had one school building with two rooms that housed the first through the sixth grades, and one school teacher teaching all grades. The children were separated into the two rooms by grades, and the teacher would move from room to room. The class- rooms were on the second level of the school building, and the first level housed the school teacher. Prior to the 1930’s, the teacher usually was the village priest who was appointed by the Arch-bishop of the Archdiocese. Throughout World War II and the Civil War there was no schooling in the village.
The classrooms and teacher’s apartment were heated by burning wood (furnished by the villagers) in a potbelly stove. Fifth and sixth graders were assigned duties to start the fire each morning and to sweep the rooms before classes started. Each assigned student had to bring his or her own kindling to start the fire. They were also supposed to start the fire in the teacher’s apartment.
While the children were in school, the teacher had complete control. The punishments varied, but three of them stand out clearly in my mind. The first was to pull or twist the student’s ear. The second involved standing in the corner. Standing in the corner should have been humiliating enough, but we were told to do it on one leg facing the rest of the class.
When I write about the third punishment, I am speaking from experience. In fourth grade, after committing a minor offense (like pulling a girl’s hair that was seated in front of me), I was asked to go outside and fetch a thin, green verba (willow) branch, about one-half inch thick and two feet long. Willow trees were plentiful next to the school house. When I returned with the willow branch, I was asked to hold out my hand, palm up. The teacher struck it with the willow branch. As she lowered the branch for the second strike, I decided to grab the branch and hold on to it tightly. Moments later I realized that this had not been a wise move on my part.
Often in late spring, all of the students would travel outside of the village for a picnic. I remember one of those trips when the teacher decided to take us to Ramnata livada, a flat level place in Mount Vitcho. We began our trek very early in the morning so that we could see the sun rise as we headed out. About halfway to our destination, just on the other side of Tsero, the screams of the lead children pierced the darkness. They ran back, with fear in their eyes, to tell us of a wolf that stood just ahead. We began making noises to scare the wolf, but it would not move. Naseto Popoff (Pappas) and I (being the braver ones!) started throwing stones at the stubborn wolf. One of the stones made a loud noise as it struck, unlike the noise a rock would make if it actually hit a wolf. After some time and much wondering, we determined that the object of our fear was, in fact, a tree stump!
There was no school in the summer or early fall, because most of the children were needed to work in the fields. Education came to a halt during World War II and the Civil War because the school was closed throughout those entire nine years.
The name Chereshnitsa (ΤσερεσνΙτσηζ) was commonly used by Greek authorities on documents such as Diplomas, Birth and Baptismal Certificates, Marriage Licenses and others through the early 1930’s. On the following page is another example of the use of the name Tseresnitsis rather than Polykerasos. However, when Prime Minister Metaxas took office the use of Slavic names was forbidden.
(Translation of the previous page)
No. 100 Register No. Register Page
HOLY METROPOLIS OF KASTORIAS
CERTIFICATE OF BIRTH AND BAPTISM
It is certified that to Elias V. Papas and Theodota D. Boskos, legal spouses, Orthodox Christians, and residents of the municipality Tseresnitsis, was born a son on the 2nd day of February, 1928. Their son was baptized on the 12th day of February, 1928, in accordance with the canons of the Eastern Orthodox Church by the Reverend Priest Ioannis Hristiadis. He was named Pantelis by the Godparent Ioanna A. Zourlas as signed and witnessed below.
In Tseresnitsis the 12 day of February, 1928.
|The Officiating Priest:||The Witnesses:||The Godparent:|
|(I. Hristiadis)||(Damianos Papas)||(A. Zourlou)|
“Seal of the Municipality”