St. Sarkis of DFW Commemorates Sartarabad Victory with Concert
By Mary Mukhtarian
The St. Sarkis community came together on May 19, 2018 to celebrate and commemorate the unforgettable Sartarabad victory exactly 100 years ago on May 22-29, 1918. The Armenians stood their ground against overwhelming Ottoman forces, and were able to stop them from advancing on Yerevan and Etchmiadzin, just 40 kilometers away. This led to the salvation of our nation and the rebirth of sovereignty for Armenians, clearing the way towards today’s Armenian Republic.
The evening was inspirational not only because everyone wanted to express an unbound gratitude to the heroes of Sartarabad, Pash-Abaran, and Gharakilisa and the builders of the Republic, but because we all wanted to showcase with pride the talent, competitiveness, smarts, self-confidence and exemplary behavior of the new heirs to the sacrifices of the heroes of Sartarabad.
The Kechejian Hall of St. Sarkis was decorated with the iconic images of the stone bulls at Sartarabad, skillfully created by Yeghia and Njteh Keleshian, while performers were dressed in authentic Armenian traditional outfits.
Maral Aznavourian, representing the Parish Council, welcomed all and began the program with the National Anthems of the United States and Armenia. The Groung Ensemble members sang patriotic and nostalgic songs, and performed timeless dances, accompanied by the appreciative rhythmic applause of the audience. Satenik Mouradyan Rafael dazzled on the piano with Sabre Dance. Ruzanna Harutyunyan mesmerized with her singing of Hayasdan. The whole evening was anchored with the wide-screen video presentation skillfully crafted by Diran Aznavourian, which interwove actual battle footage, recitation of famous poetry and nostalgic Armenian music to bring to life the heroism and sacrifice of our forefathers.
This vibrant community of St. Sarkis is determined to fill 2018 with celebrations along with the Republic of Armenia and the diaspora, allowing us to benefit from past communal and historic paths, and giving us the wisdom to move forward with future plans. Our St. Sarkis Church is joining the celebration with today’s Cultural Program and taking part in this national Armenian commemoration, being a witness to our collective unity, and praying that our people have Mays to celebrate victories together.
The celebration was followed by a donated traditional Armenian meal of Harissa, which was accompanied with Armenian style dishes of all types of vegetables, cheese, and lavash bread. Father Ghevond blessed the food and invited all to partake of it. The community’s hearts were open as they donated towards future cultural events of this nature.
Ms. Aznavourian thanked all the performers and soloists, the Keleshian brothers for the decoaration, Raffi Ohanian for the sound system, Sandra Morath for manning the program, Tatevig for the program, Aradi for the Armenian song video adjustments, Diran for the video and especially Susanna Khetchumyan for putting together and conducting this beautiful patriotic program.
The joyful event was so captivating, that long after the program was over and everyone had finished eating, the community was still at the Hall visiting with each other energized by the pulsing heart of St. Sarkis. We look forward to many more such cultural events in the near future.
St Sarkis School of DFW Has Year-End Hantess
By Mary Mukhtarian
The St. Sarkis School of Dallas Fort Worth held its year-end Hantess on Sunday May 20, 2018 at the Kechejian Hall of the St. Sarkis Church. The excitement of the children was matched with the pride of the parents who brought all family members to celebrate the accomplishments of their children. The St. Sarkis School boasted over 70 students this year divided into 5 classes taught by 17 staff members of Principal, VP, teachers, helpers and substitute teachers. The children were instructed in the Armenian language, culture, and history, in addition to religious studies.
The principal, Maral Aznavourian, welcomed all to the highly anticipated event and promised that they will be thrilled with the surprising performances by the students. Interspersed with the performances, she introduced the Board Members and the teaching staff, thanking them for their dedication in volunteering their time and expertise to enlighten the young minds of the community.
Students in Language Classes for Adults began the Hantess with a patriotic poem, followed by the Ani Class performing excerpts in Armenian to the delight of all parents. The Yerevan class sang two songs and then related to everyone what they had learned in class. The Sevan class performed the Assembly of Mice, a tale of hanging a bell on the cat, accompanied by video clips projected behind the students. The Karni/Keghart classes researched several Legends and Heroes from Armenian history, entitled “Mer Medzeruh” (Our Forebearers), and created a memorable PowerPoint presentation explaining their accomplishments to the audience.
In between the performances and presentations, Ms. Aznavourian expressed the appreciation of the School to the St. Sarkis Women’s Guild for “always being there for the School”. A representative bouquet of flowers was presented to Sylva Dayian, Chairman, with the thanks of the Board, teaching staff and students of the St. Sarkis School.
An exceptionally poignant moment occurred when Nairi Meras was surprised with the School Board’s renaming of her Ani class to “Nairi” class. She had conceived the idea of a pre-K class which she had nurtured and taught with the approval of the Board for the benefit of the youngest children. Everyone’s thanks and best wishes went with her as she planned to move away from Dallas.
Ms. Aznavourian thanked the students and the staff for working hard during the year, and the community for attending and encouraging its youth, saying “this is your home”. She then invited Father Ghevond, pastor, for his closing remarks. Fr. Ghevond added his thanks to all for their commitment, reminding them of the wealth of artistic, literary and religious knowledge of the youth of St. Sarkis and gave his blessing before he sent the audience to the fellowship luncheon organized by the school board with food donated generously by the school parents.
The St. Sarkis School will expect to begin the new year in September 2018.
To see more photos from the Hantes, click here.
On Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018, the St. Sarkis Church of Dallas Fort Worth unveiled the newly created Mark Aram Kechejian Award to recognize the accomplishments of an individual who has demonstrated an outstanding dedication, devotion and generosity to the children of the church. Mark Kechejian was a young church member, who donated electronic equipment to the school and was asked by the School Board to create a playground for the children. He helped channel the community’s generosity into a spectacular playground for the children of St. Sarkis before he was tragically taken from us too soon. After many years of service, the playground had to be torn down for safety reasons, and stayed empty waiting for the right people to resurrect it.
The time was now. Maral Aznavourian explained that the community needed not only a generous donor in the form of Dr. Sarkis Kechejian, uncle of Mark, and the Godfather of St. Sarkis Church, who stepped in to fund the refurbishment of the now dilapidated playground, but also the heartfelt donations of community members who covered additional expenses. There was still a need for a special individual who had the “guts, tenacity, perseverance and the heart to take this project on.”
Andrea Titoyan was that person, the first recipient of the Mark Aram Kechejian Award for 2018. Ms. Titoyan was chosen for this honor because “she put together a team, negotiated, purchased, dug, tilled and put down sod” to complete the project in record time.
Ms. Titoyan was “overwhelmed” with this honor, and thanked the many volunteers on her team especially Shant Aghyarian who selflessly devoted their time and talent to bringing back the vision of Mark Kechejian for the children. Ms. Titoyan gave a shout out to Mark Kechejian calling him “my friend in heaven.” The thunderous applause expressed the happiness of the community with the playground and Ms. Titoyan.
In gratitude to Dr. Kechejian, the children of St. Sarkis created a unique book as a “Thank You” for his generosity and for upholding the dream of Mark.
This presentation was made during an outstanding Easter luncheon lovingly prepared and served by the St. Sarkis Women’s Guild who outdid themselves as usual. The gourmet meal was the creation of the talented women who are the backbone of the church, and enlivened the Easter celebrations.
The St. Sarkis community enjoyed another luncheon the previous week on Palm Sunday, when the ACYOA youth cooked and served a wonderful meal as a fundraiser for their activities.
During the luncheon, the ACYOA honored Mrs. Aznif Altunian as the 2018 Person of the Year. Sevag Koulian explained that the ACYOA recognized Mrs. Altunian because of her guidance to the ACYOA, her support for their activities and her help in food preparation, but mostly for her “being there for us always.” Mrs. Altunian was not only delighted with this honor, but she vowed to continue helping our youth in whatever projects they wanted to undertake.
The St. Sarkis Church has been blessed with many individuals who have improved the lives of many, and ensured that the Church will continue to enlighten the future.
By Mary Mukhtarian