WATERTOWN, Mass.—More than 350 friends and supporters of the St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School (SSAES) gathered on November 10, at the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel, to celebrate the school’s 25 years of dedication to Armenian education. The Gala Celebration, presided over by His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, Prelate of Eastern United States, raised approximately $150,000 in funds for the school.
Dr. Avak Kahvejian was the event’s master of ceremonies; while Rouzan Abrahamian headed the Gala Committee.
The keynote speaker for the gala was Dr. Joyce Barsam, a Tufts University Life Trustee Emeritai, member of the Board of Overseers of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and Vice President and Trustee of the Tavitian Foundation. Barsam spoke about her delight at becoming familiar with the workings of the school and its track record. “It is obvious that those civilizations and cultures that are successful in retaining their identity are those that are able to transmit their values, their customs, their beliefs and particularly their language to the next generation. Our Armenian Churches need our children to carry on the faith of the ages– children who are exposed to and understand its language, its liturgy and its life. Our Armenian cultural institutions– whether they are preserving books and artifacts, or supporting historians and scholars, or musicians and artists– all require a dedicated and literate audience that values their work. The only way to create such an audience is to begin with the education of our youth,” stated Dr. Barsam.
“What a gift it is that St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School gives our children — the fertile and nurturing environment in which to easily absorb the Armenian and English languages together, endowing our children with a bilingualism which will serve them the rest of their lives. How fortunate we are to have this model institution in our community! And it is our duty to support the institution that provides our community with such a precious resource for our children” she added.
In her overview of the past 25 years, Principal Houry Boyamian said, “Since the very beginning, we have been aware of the challenge facing us. In a region that is home to some of the finest educational institutions in the world, an Armenian school would have to offer an exceptional program in order to meet the demands of our community, while preserving our Armenian culture and heritage. Over the past 25 years, we have succeeded in offering an excellent educational curriculum with a strong foundation in Armenian language and culture. And, here in this hall, I renew the pledge we made 25 years ago. We will continue to provide an excellent bilingual education. And we will continue to make it accessible to every Armenian American child in the community.”
Archbishop Choloyan presented one of the veteran teachers of the school, Anahid Joubanian, with Sourp Mesrob Mashdots Medal for 45 years of dedicated service to Armenian education. This medal is one of the highest honors bestowed on an individual by the Armenian Church.
A video of the school, produced by Sandy Bedrosian and the school’s Public Relations Committee, and narrated by Emmy Award winning broadcast meteorologist and environmental reporter Mish Michaels, touched many in the audience.
Next, major donors to the Gala were recognized, followed by a Candle Lighting Ceremony conducted by alumni representatives.
Exhilarated by the success of the evening, young and old, parents and students danced into the early hours of the morning to the sounds of the Kevork Artinian Band.
About the SSAES
St. Stephen’s is the only Armenian day school to be fully accredited by the Association of Independent Schools in New England (AISNE), the accrediting body for independent elementary schools. AISNE has commended the school for “creating an environment where all the students love to read and appear committed to academic excellence”. The AISNE team also commended the school and the principal for recruiting a remarkably talented and dedicated staff. The AISNE accreditation puts St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School academically on par with other prestigious private schools in the region.
To learn more about SSAES, please visit www.ssaes.org.