WATERTOWN, Mass.—The Mirak Family Foundation has generously pledged a leadership gift of $200,000 to the St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School in Watertown. Following a meeting between Robert Mirak, Julia Mirak Kew, and school principal Houry Boyamian, the Miraks offered to support the school’s mission to educate a second generation of Armenian Americans.
The Mirak family was enthusiastic about the quality of bilingual education at the school, the low student to teacher ratio, the quality of the teaching staff, and its accreditation since 2003 by the Association of Independent Schools in New England.
“We are honored that the Mirak family has made such a generous commitment to our school,” said Boyamian upon accepting the first installment of the five-year gift. “This leadership gift will help ensure that generations of Armenian Americans will continue to have access to a quality bilingual and bicultural education.”
“As the son of genocide survivors, I understand the challenges of bicultural living and identity in America,” said Robert Mirak. “Our family is grateful that St. Stephen’s School is investing resources in educating young people in Armenian language and history.”
Mirak is the son of the late John and Artemis Mirak, who were survivors of the genocide from Arapkir. His book, Torn Between Two Lands: Armenians in America, 1890 to World War I was published by Harvard University Press. As a scholar and community leader, he expressed the importance of preserving an Armenian identity in the Diaspora.
Mirak’s granddaughter, Christina Kew, attends the school, and daughter Julia, a trustee of the Mirak Family Foundation and the Armenian Cultural Foundation (ACF), has commended the staff and school leadership for providing a nurturing environment and helping her family preserve their Armenian heritage.
“My sister Jennifer Mirak Leach is also part of our family foundation, and she is envious that I can send my daughter to St. Stephen’s School,” Julia confided. “I can speak for all of us when I say our family is proud that we can help the school upgrade its existing space, keep tuition affordable, and enhance the school’s library so students will have access to cutting-edge resources.”
“Our goal is to continue recruiting and retaining qualified teachers and administrators, building and maintaining a growing enrollment, ensuring the school’s long-term sustainability, and creating the best possible school campus,” explained Boyamian. “The commitment of the Mirak family gives us great hope that we will be successful. We are currently implementing a multi-year strategic plan for growth, and we hope the Mirak family gift will also inspire others to invest in our unique programs.”
The Mirak family has supported a number of charitable and education institutions, including Arlington’s hospital and libraries, the preservation of historic structures, the Armenia Tree Project, and the ACF in Arlington.
St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School is a private pre-kindergarten through grade five school dedicated to educational excellence in an environment rich in Armenian culture.
Since its establishment in 1984, more than 400 students have been educated in Armenian language and history, and 177 students have graduated. Students in several grades score in the top 10-15 percent nationwide on the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills for Language and Math, and graduates have attended prestigious universities with full scholarships and gone on to become community leaders.