The American Farm School of Thessaloniki (AFS) is very different from your average high school. "Challenging, experiential, unique, residential, hands-on, green, traditional, life-changing..." are a few of the words alums have used to describe it.
AFS students come from the rural mainland and islands throughout Greece, creating a uniquely diverse student body. Building on more than a century of tradition developing stewards of the land, AFS prepares future leaders who value the wise use of natural resources, preservation of the environment, application of the life sciences for solving problems, and effective utilization of information technology. Although AFS students must complete the full academic curriculum required of all Greek accredited high schools, our diversified educational farm serves as a living laboratory that supports applied research and hands-on learning... and feeds the school.
The American Farm School was one of the first institutions worldwide established with an obligatory community volunteering component and our residential campus has allowed our philosophy to become a way of life. AFS students form a deep sense of community and a connection with the land they work and live on, while learning how to be independent and responsible. Students work daily on the farm, and our every meal is rich with what they have planted and nourished. Students can birth calves, make wine, and tell if it will rain. They have lived a combined academic and life experience which has made them honest, engaged, genuine, principled, and hardworking. If you are seeking someone different, come meet our kids.
AFS includes Pre-K, Elementary, two Secondary Schools (General & Technical Lyceums), and Perrotis College (post-secondary institution offering Bachelor’s & Master’s degrees). The campus’ diversified research and demonstration farm serves as a living laboratory for students in all divisions. The high schools have a combined enrollment of 290 students, from 10 of the 13 regions of Greece. 80% live in campus residence halls and the remaining live at home in Thessaloniki. 50% are from farming families, while the rest are from rural Greece or have parents with a significant relationship to agriculture. All students receive a significant subsidy - from 50% to full scholarship - based on a sliding scale relating to grades and family income. All classes, except English, are taught in Greek.
General Lyceum (GEL)
Students enter General Lyceum intending to take the standardized national university entrance examinations to attend our free national universities. Upon graduation, students are granted the Greek high school diploma “Apolyterion.” The final Apolyterion grade is an average of the last two semester grades and scores obtained in the standardized national university entrance examinations (as determined under Greek law).
Technical Lyceum (EPAL)
The Technical Lyceum provides students with general education, vocational training and professional development. The EPAL grants two degrees: the high school diploma, similar to the Certificate of High School, and the Level 3 diploma, which is recognized in all EU countries that have the professional license.
The Greek high-school grading scheme is based on a 20 point scale that corresponds to the U.S. grading scheme as follows: 18.1- 20=A, 16-18=B, 13.1-15.9=C, 10-13=D, under 10=F. Ministry of Education "Aristeion" Awards are given annually to outstanding students (equivalent to Dean’s List in U.S. schools). Colleges should note that the first semester / mid-year grades are available early February.
The educational farm provides an opportunity for AFS students to apply their classroom learning on a fully functioning farm. All students are required to participate in weekly practical and technical training throughout grades 10-12. Students receive a certificate upon graduation for their successful completion of the practical training/service program.
Every day one finds fresh milk, cheese, yogurt, Omega-3 eggs and more at our campus store - raised, collected, packaged and sold by our students. Our students complete practical projects and training in horticulture, animal husbandry, dairy science, and farm management in the farm facilities of the School. This training is complemented in the classroom with an increased emphasis on preparing students soundly in the life sciences. First and second year students participate in afternoon Biology, Chemistry, and Physics labs linked to the morning curriculum. Second year students strengthen their food technology expertise by learning cheese making, yogurt making and such in the Educational Dairy laboratories. Third year students perform applied science experiments with Perrotis College students and help to prepare weekly meals in the campus dining room.
In addition to the full academic program, students are offered a wide variety of extracurricular and athletic activities reinforcing the strong traditions in Greek & American cultures and creating a strong sense of community on campus. Juniors and seniors take advantage of on-campus leadership opportunities like our Residence Leaders program and class elected Student Council. Many students choose to participate in after-school clubs similar to those found in the United States, including Model United Nations and Theater club. Other more “Greek” clubs include our Traditional Greek Dance team and the Snail Farming club. More recently, the school has taken an active role in promoting global consciousness through our PeaceJam club, where students work with unaccompanied refugee youth. Other clubs include: Astronomy, Cinema, Environmental, Junior Achievement (Entrepreneurship), Robotics, and Reading Club. Student Life is further enhanced by our six American Fellows, who live and interact with students in a range of different roles on campus.
Academic and Cultural Exchange Programs
AFS students participate in numerous STEM academic and cultural exchange programs, both in the USA (Global Outreach, 4-H, FFA, etc.) and in Europe (France, Austria, Sweden, and Hungary).
AFS Alums in the U.S.A.
Created in 2010, the Study USA program exists to provide AFS students with an opportunity to pursue studies in the USA. We have 26 AFS alums presently enrolled in undergraduate study, and have had students attend the following universities: Bates College, Barry University, Berea College*, Brown University, Davidson College*, Franklin & Marshall College, Gannon University*, Haverford College, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Juniata College, Lawrence University, McNeese State University*, Middlebury College, Mt. Holyoke College, Princeton University, Quinnipiac University, Rhodes College*, Sewanee: The University of the South, Skidmore College, St. Lawrence University*, Union College, University of Richmond*, University of Tampa, Vanderbilt University, Viterbo University*, Warren Wilson College, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute* (* more than one).
100% of AFS students receive scholarships (ranging from 50% to full scholarships).
AFS is the oldest American-founded educational institution in Greece, and was one of the first international institutions to host Fulbright Scholars. We also have several faculty/administrators who have visited the USA as Fulbright Scholars.
AFS is recognized as a national leader in adult education, enrolling more than 700 adults annually in the following courses: cheese-making, wine-making, beer brewing, organic urban gardening, bee-keeping, snail farming, and much more.
AFS recently established a Pre-K-Elementary component based around environmental learning. Children spend time growing and harvesting in their own garden and greenhouse each day.
In recent years, AFS has initiated day visits for more than 9,000 public school students each year. Students learn about the origin of their food and their own responsibilities to ensure a sustainable world.
The USDA has only two full-time research programs in Europe–one in France and one on the AFS campus