Second-Grader Commended for Genocide Centennial Project

AUBURN, Mass.—A second-grader had a perfect answer to a cultural day celebration at his school.

Rocco Vartabedian, 8, decided to depict his heritage in behalf of the Armenian Genocide Centennial.

Rocco Vartabedian, 8, with his four-sided Armenian Genocide project that he presented to his school
Rocco Vartabedian, 8, with his four-sided Armenian Genocide project that he presented to his school

The project gained rave reviews from the teachers and administrators at the Bryn Mawr Memorial School. Among those who applauded the effort and congratulated Rocco was Laura Jaffarian, a prominent member of the Armenian Relief Society (ARS) in nearby Worcester who was among the observers.

In conjunction with the project, the child was required to give a five-minute oral report to his fellow students in class. His subject was about the genocide of 1915 and how it affected Armenia’s history.

“A lot of the kids seemed very interested in this,” he said. “I got the idea from my family and decided it would be a good project because I’m Armenian. The Turks attacked our country, killed our people, and took our land away from us.”

One side of the box was covered with the Armenian flag. Another showed scenes in present-day Yerevan of musicians, churches, street vendors, and Mount Ararat. A third side showed the country’s geography with a map of Armenia and letters of the alphabet, followed by the Armenian Coat of Arms, images of food, pomegranates, and dance, along with a statue of Mother Armenia.

Inside the box were photos of his late great-grandmother, a genocide survivor whom he remembers from nursing home visits.

Outside of school, Rocco participates in sports and Cub Scouts and enjoys playing chess. He is the son of Raffi and Sarah Vartabedian and the grandson of Tom and Nancy Vartabedian.

“We were very proud when Rocco presented the project,” his parents said. “Perhaps other Armenian school children can adopt similar projects in their schools and share their history during this 100th year. It’s important that all students get involved, regardless of their age.”

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Tom Vartabedian

Tom Vartabedian is a retired journalist with the Haverhill Gazette, where he spent 40 years as an award-winning writer and photographer. He has volunteered his services for the past 46 years as a columnist and correspondent with the Armenian Weekly, where his pet project was the publication of a special issue of the AYF Olympics each September.
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