Σύλλογος Αποφοίτων Anatolia
Το Κολλέγιο “Ανατόλια” ξεριζωμένο από τη Μερζιφούντα και μετά τα τραγικά γεγονότα της μικρασιατικής εκστρατείας και της καταστροφής του Ελληνισμού, λειτούργησε στην Ελλάδα το 1925. Προσωρινά στεγάστηκε σε απλές εγκαταστάσεις στην περιοχή Χαριλάου, για να μεταφερθεί το 1933 στα σημερινά του διδακτήρια. Παράλληλα το Κολλέγιο Θηλέων λειτούργησε για αρκετά χρόνια στο γραφικό νεοκλασικό της οδού Σοφούλη (τότε Αλλατίνη), μέχρι να μεταστεγαστεί και να συγχωνευθεί στο σημερινό κτιριακό συγκρότημα. Η ιδέα της δημιουργίας ενός συλλόγου, που θα ενίσχυε τους δεσμούς των αποφοίτων μεταξύ τους αλλά και με το Κολλέγιο Ανατόλια, τελεσφόρησε το 1937 με την επίσημη αναγνώριση του Συλλόγου από την πολιτεία και την έγκριση του καταστατικού του από το Πρωτοδικείο. Στην πραγματικότητα, όμως, η σκέψη αυτή κυοφορούταν από το 1929.
An Alumni Association was formed in the summer of 1929 by its first 25 graduates, many of whom had already decided to live in Athens or abroad. By the end of the school year, as recalled by graduate Vassilis Kouligas, they visited the building of the new school which was still under construction. Each graduate planted a tree, a tradition that was followed by future graduates. “Our ties to our beloved school, which were fostered during the entire six year period when we entered the school as kids and graduated as young men, were so strong that we did not want to be permanently separated from it,” said Vassilis Kouligas. “We wanted to keep that bond alive, even after our graduation. We reflected upon how to establish an Alumni Association for some time. In the summer of 1929 we finally succeeded.” Ten graduates met with the President of the school, Dr. White, and asked him to connect them with former alumni, especially those who had attended the school in Merzifon and arrived as refugees in Thessaloniki or in other parts of Greece. These alumni contributed to the formation of the Alumni and Former Students of Anatolia College Association, which also included those who were unable to graduate from Anatolia College due to the events that took place in Asia Minor and the relocation of Anatolia College to Greece. Some of the founding members included Batrik Benlian (first president), Eleftherios Megrelis, Manolis Kokkinis, Kostas Sianos, Krikor Magarian, Enoch Georgiadis, Kostas Rallis, Hatcher Hatcherian, Ploutarchos Haralambidis, Shararsh Benlian and Vassilis Kouligas, while some of the Merzifon students that participated included Mouratoglou, Kyriakidis and Askitopoulos.
The first Board of Directors
The first Board of Directors was established in 1930 and comprised of Badrig Benlian, president, Achilleas Mouradoglou, vice-president, Shararsh Benlian, recording secretary, Hatcher Hatcherian, treasurer, Prodromos Ebeoglou, corresponding secretary, Socratis Iakovidis, chief editor, and Eleftherios Magrelis, business manager. “The objectives of the Association are – according to our statutes – ‘to foster close relations amongst the alumni themselves and between the Alma Mater and its alumni. To promote common interests of the alumni and support social and cultural life.’ These can be achieved through acts such as the publication of the Alumni Association “Newsletter,” providing educational opportunities for one or two orphans, moral support, congresses, excursions and social gatherings. These efforts will result in the establishment of a strong college of alumni in the future, who will be able to contribute to the building of a library in Merzifon and form an association honoring our cherished land of Anatolia.” Facilities at Anatolia College were used as meeting rooms and offices. Dr. White was usually invited to attend the meetings of the Board. Even though it was a small member association and the funds were scarce, the Association operated normally until 1937, when its statutes where approved by the Court of First Instance.
Operation of the Anatolia College Alumni Association (SAAK) after 1937
At that time the number of Anatolia College graduates was small and cannot be compared with current numbers. Nevertheless, the school kept a small office responsible for keeping contact with alumni living abroad and informing them about school affairs. A small apartment at Komninon street was used as the first SAAK office, located in the city center where the majority of the alumni worked. It was furnished right away and operated as a meeting room in the afternoons. Alumni of the Girls’ School also visited the office premises. Thoughts of forming a separate association for the alumni of the Girls’ School were rejected and changes in its statutes, the Association included alumni from both schools. The alumni started to schedule lectures, talks, daily excursions by train or by bus, and efforts were made to provide the Club with a radio, a phonograph and equipment for a small canteen. Anatolia College was informed of the alumni activities and provided financial assistance by covering the rent. An Alumni Banquet was organized every year in honor of the graduating students and their professors. Another very lucrative event was the annual Grand Ball. The first Ball was held at the Pallas Hall and subsequent ones at the Mediterranean Hotel. The Balls provided an important revenue source for the Association, and quickly become one of the most important social events in town. The organization of these events was possible due to the voluntary work of its members, and the main goal of the Association was the establishment of a Scholarship Fund. Wishing to improve its offices, the Association moved to new premises at V. Irakleiou Street and later to Athonos Square.