Mourad Armenian School celebrates 90 years

PROVIDENCE, R.I.—On Saturday, April 6, 2024, under the auspices of His Eminence Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian, prelate of the Eastern Prelacy, the Providence community celebrated the 90th anniversary of Sts. Vartanantz Church Mourad Armenian School at the VFW Post in Cranston, RI. The Mourad Armenian School, with its capable and dedicated past and present principals, teachers and school committee members, has served as a cornerstone in preserving the Armenian language and culture among the community and future generations.  

After opening remarks, mistress of ceremonies Taleen Donoyan, a graduate of the school, invited Archbishop Tanielian to offer the invocation and bless the meal. She and a fellow graduate of the school, Rosdom Mkrtschjan, sang the American and Artsakh anthems. The school students sang the Armenian national anthem, led by another graduate, the school’s music teacher Raffi Rachdouni.

HE Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian blesses the meal with Rev. Fr. Kapriel Nazarian (left) and Archpriest Gomidas Baghsarian (Photo: Edward Nasr)

In attendance were almost 200 guests, including past and present Armenian school students, teachers and school committee members with their families. Donoyan welcomed the honored guests at the head table, including Archbishop Tanielian, Archpriest Fr. Gomidas Baghsarian, pastor of Sts. Vartanantz Church Rev. Fr. Kapriel Nazarian, Yeretzgeen Debra Nazarian, Board of Trustee chairman Levon Attarian, school committee chairman Archdeacon Hagop Khatchadourian and co-principals June Mangassarian and Lala Attarian.

Throughout the banquet, a PowerPoint photo presentation, which included both old and current memories of the school, was shown.

After enjoying dinner prepared by Chef Arman, the Providence Hamazkayin Chapter’s Artsakh dance group performed, directed by Shoushan Avagyan. The crowd cheered as the younger and older group dancers performed the “Vartavar” and “Hzor Hayastan” dances.

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During his welcoming remarks, Khatchadourian commended the students, teachers and principals who have carried on the torch for the past 90 years. He stressed to the parents and grandparents the importance of not only sending children to school, but also communicating with them in the Armenian language at home. “Every single Armenian is a flame, and if we don’t hold on to our Armenian identity, language, beliefs and fatherland, that flame will go out,” Khatchadourian said. He thanked all the supporters of the adbook and those in attendance and commended the 90th anniversary organizing committee members for their tireless efforts to make the event a success.

Board chairman Attarian congratulated the Mourad Armenian School on its 90th anniversary and thanked the teachers and co-principals for their dedication and continued success in educating the future generations. He noted that it is not easy for an Armenian school to stay open for this long and preserve the Armenian language, especially in America. As a graduate, he thanked the school for giving him a lifetime of memories and friends, many of whom he was happy to see at the celebration, saying, “This is our Armenian school family.”

The students sang the school’s anthem, followed by “Togh Meeshd Bandza,” “Ayp Pen Kim” and “Hayots Darer” with delightful choreography and Rachdouni accompanying the students on keyboard. Following the students’ performance, Rev. Fr. Nazarian, Sts. Vartanantz Church Sunday School director Yeretzgeen Debra and co-principals Mangassarian and Attarian presented a check of almost $3,500 to Archbishop Tanielian for the children of Artsakh. The prelate thanked both the Sunday and Armenian schools students for their heartfelt fundraising efforts to help the children of Artsakh. Following this presentation, the anniversary cake was ceremoniously cut by Archbishop Tanielian, surrounded by the pastors, the co-directors and the school committee chairman.

Co-principals June Mangassarian and Lala Attarian, Sunday School director Yn. Debra Nazarian, Rev. Fr. Kapriel Nazarian, HE Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Archpriest Fr. Gomidas Baghsarian and Archdeacon Hagop Khatchadourian (Photo: Edward Nasr)

Co-principal Attarian thanked everyone for their continued support and the committee members who organized the momentous banquet. She noted that everyone in attendance was there to renew their commitment to preserve the Armenian identity and national values. These values are instilled through the relentless efforts of teachers and parents, working together with a common goal of reshaping the youth to serve the community-at-large. Through the initiatives of the Prelacy’s Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC), in the last four years the school has initiated new programs to strengthen its base. Attarian concluded by noting that Armenians are at a crossroads in history and must preserve the culture, language and faith with a united force to survive as Armenians in the diaspora.

Next, Mangassarian offered her remarks, stating, “Imagine, 90 years ago the Mourad Armenian School was started, almost a century ago, by hard work, dedication and commitment. The goals then were the same as now. We all want our children to become bright and exceptional Armenians to continue with our culture and heritage.” She thanked everyone for their continued support, stating that the enthusiasm is contagious.

Mourad Armenian School co-principals Lala Attarian and June Mangassarian (Photo: Edward Nasr)

During her congratulatory message, Armenian Relief Society (ARS) Eastern Region Board representative Anoush Bargamian congratulated the Providence Mourad Armenian School’s efforts throughout the years. The ARS Eastern Region, along with the Prelacy’s ANEC programs, continue to support the educational programs of Armenian schools. “Your efforts have been fruitful,” she said. Bargamian extended the continuing commitment of the ARS to the Mourad Armenian School and congratulated the school for all its efforts to ensure a bright future.

The teachers of the Mourad Armenian School (Photo: Berge Zobian)

After congratulating the Mourad Armenian School on this milestone anniversary, Rev. Fr. Nazarian spoke about how celebrations such as this one typically take on one of two different sentiments. One is a celebration of survival, of remaining in existence for the number of years that are being marked. The other is a celebration of thriving after so many years. With joy, he said that the latter was the type of anniversary celebrated that night. The Mourad Armenian School has done much more than survive for 90 years. It is thriving and innovating to meet the needs of the current generation. Father Kapriel thanked the staff for its dedication and for working harmoniously to make the Mourad Armenian School thrive today and into the future.

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His Eminence Archbishop Tanielian congratulated the school for its 90 years and commended the Providence community efforts throughout the years. He expressed pride in the church, the schools and the organizations working together for a common goal to strengthen the entire community. He also commended the leadership, the teachers, the co-directors and the parents for bringing their children to Armenian school to uphold the rich culture, values and Armenian identity. “Together we shall stand, survive and multiply, as Armenian and as Christian Armenians,” said the Archbishop. “Currently our Armenian history, literature, language and identity are in question. We as diasporans, we must carry on the torch as the protectors of our culture and history, strengthened with the spiritual light of Saints Mesrob Mashdots, Gregory the Illuminator and Vartanantz.” His Eminence concluded his remarks by inviting everyone to sing the song of hope, Giligia.

The Mourad Armenian School 90th Anniversary Committee

Live music was provided by DJ Rams, and the crowd danced all night, enjoying an evening of comradery.

We thank the 90th anniversary steering committee members Ani Dedeyan (chairperson), Haigouhi Corriveau, Anna Gevorkian, Alenoush Hagopian, Chrissy Kechejian, Diana Keshijian, Hrant Khatchadourian, Megan Khatchadourian, Araksi Sarkisian, Nora Tarbinian and Melanie Zeitounian, as well as the Kaian Family, Edward Nasr and Adelina Gasbaryan, all the families and the Providence community for supporting this special event as we celebrated nine decades of success and our devotion to preserving the Armenian language and heritage.

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Guest Contributor

Guest contributions to the Armenian Weekly are informative articles or press releases written and submitted by members of the community.

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