After the opening prayer offered by Father Ghevond Ajamian, all the children of the Armenian school were on stage to sing the Armenian National Anthem and to recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States. The Principal of the school, Maral Aznavourian, thanked all for coming to attend the pride of our community, and reminded all that we had honored our lost ones, but that now was our greatest moment in history, and that our future was one of great possibilities enhanced by the new generations that were carrying the mantle after us.
The opening remarks were followed by the graduation of the Ararat class. These students had studied at the St. Sarkis Armenian School since they were 6 or 7, and they were well versed in the language, history, religion and culture of the Armenians. They received the diplomas prepared by the Diocese and the Armenian Genocide Centennial “Forget Me Not” commemorative pins. Most of the St Sarkis graduates are planning to be 2015-2016 enrollees in the AGBU program of AVC, the Armenian Virtual College hybrid program, to continue their Armenian education.
After the graduation ceremony, the young students of the Yerevan class took the stage to sing the “Sourp Asdvadz” soulful hymn, with the audience joining in. The young students then, recited the colors, days of the week and counted in Armenian, then followed a hilarious episode of each one of them outdoing the others in writing their names on the board. The most touching segment was the reading by Paul Kantzabedian and Amassia Dayian of the famous William Saroyan quote:
“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia. See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.”
The Sevan class joined together for a group recitation of Mesrob Mashdotz, followed by the Ayp Pen Kim song in Armenian. What a delight it was, when upon completing it, they hooked little fingers and began dancing the Tamzara on stage. They were a multi-talented group, those students of the Sevan class.
The Karni class took to the stage next to tell personal family stories, most of which were narratives on the effect of the Genocide on their families. We all got to learn a lot more about these children and their families, and appreciated their effort to ask their parents for these highly painful stories.
The talent that the Ararat class demonstrated was not in singing or dancing, but was in interviewing past St. Sarkis Stewards and sharing their history of our community. The students had a PowerPoint presentation of history and photos that told the story of our community as attendees enjoyed a trip down memory lane. This was followed by recognizing the stewards of St. Sarkis who have kept this church going over time. Every single steward starting with Dr. Kechejian, the Godfather of our Church, was interviewed and the result was a 14 minute long video clip. We got to hear the encouragement of many Stewards to this church to move forward and build the new church complex and of their pride in our youth, and their advice for them to continue to be beacons of hope for our community. The group recitation of “We Are Few, But We Are Called Armenians” in both Armenian and English brought tears to everyone’s eyes, because we were a small community that was keeping the Armenian passion alive in our corner of the world.
The closing remarks were made by the Chairwoman of the St. Sarkis School, Armineh Kajoian, who recognized the unequalled service of all the teachers and board members, and singled the Principal Maral Aznavourian for praise as an inspiration to all.
Parents, grandparents and the rest of the community were both delighted and touched with the passion of the youth who had filled them with pride. Father Ghevond offered the closing prayer and invited all to enjoy the delicious luncheon prepared and served by the St. Sarkis School Board.
By Mary Mukhtarian
Ararat classroom is very near and dear to my heart and I consider each and every one of them my own. I have been their Oryort Maral, Digin Aznaviourian and always their Auntie Maral… Most of the students receiving their diplomas have been in Ararat classroom since the age of six or seven. We have learned our language and history together, we have rejoiced in the accomplishment of our people and have shared our pride in our culture and heritage. We have mourned our hundred year pain and loss together but have stood triumphant in our resolve to keep what is ours holy and sacred.
As the students of Ararat classroom receive their diplomas and complete their paper and pencil chapter of learning our language, history and culture, they stand tall with the promise of resuming their studies in a different setting. For the 20214-2015 school year, most of the Ararat Classroom students will join AGBU’s hybrid program of Armenian Virtual College and continue learning our language and culture in the virtual world and hopefully becoming the liaisons of AVC and the Dallas community.
Congratulations to all Ararat Classroom Graduates! We could not be any prouder.
Christine Akilian, Arman Aznavourian, Alene Basmadjian, Lena Basmadjian, Noah Dayian, Taniel Katanjian, Serien Keleshian, Meghetty Klachian, Silvia Markarian, Ruben Mikayelyan, Sylvia Nalbandian, Sabeen Toranian.