St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School launches virtual speaker series

WATERTOWN, Mass.—St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School (SSAES) has launched a virtual speaker series called SSAES Alumni RoundTable. The first event was held on Tuesday, March 9, 2021. Moving forward, these sessions will be conducted every third Tuesday of the month. The inaugural session featured alumni Teny Avakian (’94), Araz Chiloyan (’05), Nairi Krafian (’07) and Meghri DerVartanian (’08). These graduates are either employed in Armenia, involved in non-profits in Armenia or have close ties to the homeland. 

SSAES principal Houry Boyamian welcomed the panelists and attendees in Armenian and English. She shared her hopes that the Alumni RoundTable would help parents and the community gain a greater understanding of what SSAES alumni have accomplished and how their elementary roots served as an instrumental part of their journey. 

SSAES interim curriculum coordinator Heather Krafian, for her part, talked about how all the panelists had similar experiences as students, shared similar paths in their life journey while pursuing their passions and giving back to the homeland. She invited audience members to ask alumni questions that highlighted their various journeys. They all shared that lifelong friendships and close bonds, as well as their wonderful teachers, left lasting impressions. For each of them, SSAES was family. 

Although graduating from SSAES was emotionally difficult, panelists shared that their academic and social transition to secondary and higher education went smoothly. They felt prepared as they entered high level math classes and pursued honors and AP courses. They were incredibly passionate about SSAES’ educational foundation and its emphasis on respect, discipline and hard work. The phrase “nakh tas, aba khagh/first lessons, then play” was instilled at a very young age, always striving for “kerazantz/excellence.” 

When asked how their Armenian education at SSAES prepared and shaped their life experiences, both academically and professionally, the young women shared that they appreciated the sacrifices of their parents to send them to an Armenian school. They also upheld the gift of reading, writing and speaking fluent Armenian. They shared the value of the Armenian language and the importance of being bilingual. A heightened sense of Armenian pride was instilled which enabled this group of SSAES alumni to work in Armenia or help establish nonprofits to help the homeland. The panelists utilized the phrase “eench kan lezoo keedes, ayt kan aveli mart es/the more languages you know, the more of a person you are.” They also expressed their appreciation to their dedicated Armenian teachers. 

In closing, the guests reminded current students to enjoy their time at SSAES, cherish the friendships they have developed and maintain these connections beyond graduation into their young adult lives. Alumni also encouraged Diasporan parents to send their children to an Armenian school to promote the retention of the Armenian language and culture. 

The next Alumni Roundtable will be held on Tuesday, April 20th at 7:30 p.m.

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Established in 1984, St. Stephen's Armenian Elementary School is dedicated to educational excellence in an environment rich in Armenian culture. Serving students from pre-kindergarten through fifth grade, it is the only Armenian day school in New England and is accredited by the Association of Independent Schools in New England (AISNE). Accreditation by AISNE provides quality assurance that a school is meeting rigorous standards in all aspects of its operations and that it is operating in alignment with its mission.

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