Mourad Armenian School Celebrates 90 Years of Achievement

PROVIDENCE, RI — 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 all its capable and dedicated past and present principals, teachers, and school committee members, has served as a cornerstone to preserve the Armenian language and culture among our community and future generations. 

After the opening statement by the mistress of ceremonies Ms. Taleen Donoyan, a graduate of the school, she invited Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian to give the invocation and bless the food.   Then, two graduates of the school, Mr. Rosdom Mkrtschjan and Ms. Taleen Donoyan, sang the American and Artsakh anthems. In between, the school students sang the Armenian anthem, led by the school’s music teacher Mr. Raffi Rachdouni, also a graduate.   In attendance were more than 190 guests, including past and present Armenian school students, teachers and school committee members with their families.  The MC welcomed the honored guests at the head table, including Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Archpriest Fr. Gomidas Baghsarian, Rev. Fr. Kapriel Nazarian, pastor of Sts. Vartanantz Church, and Yeretzgeen Debbie, BOT chairman Mr. Levon Attarian, the school committee chairman Dn. Hagop Khatchadourian, co-principals Mrs. June Mangassarian and Mrs. Lala Attarian.

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

After enjoying the delicious dinner prepared by Chef Arman, the program started with a performance by the Providence Hamazkayin Chapter’s Artsakh dance group which is directed by Mrs. Shoushan Avagyan.  The crowd cheered as the younger and older group dancers performed the “Vartavar” and “Hzor Hayasdan” dances.

During his welcoming remarks, the school committee chairman, Dn. Hagop Khatchadourian, commended the past and present students, teachers, and principals that started and 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,” he said.   He thanked all the supporters of the ad-book, those in attendance at the anniversary banquet, and highly commended the 90th anniversary organizing committee for their tireless efforts to make this event a huge success.

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

The musical program began with the students singing the school’s anthem, followed by the singing “Togh Meeshd Bandza”, “Ayp Pen Kim” and “Hayots Darer”, with delightful choreography; music teacher Raffi Rachdouni accompanied on the keyboard.  Following their performance, Der Kapriel, Sts. Vartanantz Church Sunday School director Yeretzgeen Debbie, and Armenian School co-directors Mrs. June and Lala, presented a check of almost $3,500 to Anoushavan Srpazan for the children of Artsakh.  Srpazan thanked both, the Sunday and Armenian School’s students for their heartfelt fundraising effort and their donation to help the children of Artsakh.   Immediately following this presentation, the anniversary cake was cut by Anoushavan Srpazan, surrounded by the Der Hayrs, the co-directors and the school committee chairman.

Co-principal of the school Mrs. Lala Attarian thanked everyone for their continued support and the committee members who organized the 90th anniversary banquet.  She noted that we are gathered to renew our commitment to preserve our Armenian identity and uphold our national values.  These values are instilled through the relentless efforts of the teachers and the parents, working together with a common goal of reshaping our youth to serve the community at large.  Through the initiatives of the Prelacy’s ANEC, in the last four years the school has initiated new programs to strengthen our base.  She concluded by noting that we are at a crossroads in our history and must preserve our culture, language, faith, and everything that is Armenian, with a united force, to survive as Armenians in the diaspora.

Next, the co-director of the school Mrs. June Mangassarian gave her message by stating that “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 and noted the enthusiasm is contagious! Let us keep it going.

During her congratulatory message, Armenian Relief Society (ARS) Eastern Region Board representative Ungerouhi Anoush Bargamian congratulated the Providence Mourad Armenian School’s efforts throughout the years.   ARS Eastern Region along with Prelacy’s ANEC programs, continues to support the educational programs of the Armenian schools.   “Your efforts have been fruitful,” was her core message.   She 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.

After congratulating the Mourad Armenian School on this milestone anniversary, Der Kapriel spoke about how anniversary celebrations such as this one can 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 very different.  It is a celebration of THRIVING after so many years.  With joy, he noted that this is the type of anniversary that was being celebrated on this night.  The Mourad Armenian School has done much more than survive for 90 years, it is THRIVING today – and it is innovating to meet the needs of the current generation. Der Kapriel thanked the staff for their dedication and working together in complete harmony to make the Mourad Armenian School thrive today and into the future.

His Eminence Anoushavan Tanielian congratulated the 90 years of the school and highly commended the Providence community efforts throughout the years.  He is very proud of the church, the schools, and the organization working together for a common goal to strengthen the community at large.   Also commended the leadership, the teachers, the co-directors, and the parents for bringing their children to the Armenian school to uphold our rich culture, our values, and our Armenian identity.  “Together we shall stand, survive and multiply, as Armenian and as Christian Armenians.”  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 Illuminator and Vartanantz.   Srpazan concluded his remarks by saying let us all sing together, the song of Hope “Giligia”.

The program concluded with the singing of Giligia.

Live music was provided by DJ Rams.  The crowd, young and old, danced all night and enjoyed their comradery.

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

(Photo credit: Edward Nasr)

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