CASPS: 2013 In Review

Members of CASPS with Keynote Speaker Lisa Gaboudian

In its 19th year as a non-profit community based organization working under the auspices of the Western Prelacy, The Committee for Armenian Students in Public Schools, CASPS, had a successful year with an array of services and programs to serve our community’s public school students. Here are some of the highlights.

On Saturday April 13, 2013, CASPS held its sixth annual half-day Leadership Conference, “Connecting to Your Community,” at the offices of the Western Prelacy in La Crescenta. Over 30 Glendale Unified School District Armenian seniors with grade point averages of 3.5 or higher attended the conference.

The purpose of the gathering was to impart the importance of leadership in the future professional and personal lives of these bright students.

At the outset, Executive Director Arsineh H. Hovannisian welcomed the students and invited Reverend Father Ghevont Kirazian to deliver his invocation and blessing on behalf of His Eminence Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate of the Western Prelacy.

This year CASPS had invited the very engaging and knowledgeable Mr. David Ghoogasian, principal at Mesrobian Armenian School, to conduct the seminar. For three consecutive hours, Mr. Ghoogasian engaged the students in interactive discussions and activities relating to leadership styles, qualities and skills. The students showed great interest and participation throughout the seminar.

During the break, Edith Azizian, college counselor at Glendale College and member of CASPS, discussed some tips about embarking on their college careers and offered her assistance if they need it in the near future. Edith was followed by Karine Aboolian and Adrineh Minassian from “Focus on Children Now.” They discussed the mission of their organization, the altruistic work they do for children here and in Armenia and how the students can volunteer in their different programs.

The speakers stressed the importance of giving back to the community, getting involved and making a difference.

The event was a resounding success. Participating Clark Magnet High School student Meleeneh Hairapetian noted in a subsequent email of gratitude to CASPS: “In the midst of a hectic senior year, it’s nice to see our community reaching out to us. I thank God that your organization would take the time to contact us and let us know that the work we do is appreciated by our Armenian community. Thank you for your hard work. The seniors appreciate it.”

Leadership Conference participants

On April 29, 2013, CASPS held an awards reception at the Glendale Unified School District headquarters for the 6th Annual CASPS Art Contest winners. Ten students from district high schools were awarded for their depictions of favorite films, which was this year’s theme. Ms. Nyrie Gharibian, the Technical Literacy, Fine Arts, and Media Arts teacher at Clark Magnet High School, invited each student to the front of the room, where the artwork was displayed on easels, to describe their inspiration and mediums they used for their expression.

Along with the parents, the award recipients, and CASPS members, in attendance were Glendale Unified School District’s Assistant Superintendent Dr. Katherine Fundukian Thorossian, the District’s Board President, Nayiri Nahabedian, Mr. Doug Dall Principal at Clark, Lena Kortoshian, Assistant Principal at Clark Magnet High School, Dr. Sona Arakelian Assistant Principal at Wilson Middle School, and GUSD Administrator, Janet Buhl.

Hrand Der Sarkissian of the Armenian Education Foundation (AEF), one of the judges, artist Samvel Saghatelian, GUSD representatives, Dr. Katherine Fundukian Thorossian and Nayiri Nahabedian, and CASPS members presented each recipient with a monetary gift and recognition. The Best in Show award with a $150 check was bestowed upon Nelli Astvatsatrian from Clark Magnet School for her piece “Regrets of a Successful Man.” Seven of the students received $75 dollars each for their pieces. These students were Vardui Grigoryan, also from Clark who received the Best Digital recognition for “Untitiled,” Eric Zakharyan (Hoover High School) Best Graphics for “Spiderman,” Varand Aghakhani (Clark) Best Drawing for “Untitled,” Soseh Babayan (Clark) Best Depiction of Character in Digital for “The Hybrid,” Sareen Ayvazian (Crescenta Valley High School) for Best Painting for “The Long Haired Beauty in the Tower,” Elen Harutyunyan (Hoover High School) for Best Depiction of Character in Drawing for “Mad Hatter,” and Ani Saryan (Hoover High School) for Best Interpretation of a Movie for “City Lights.” Two honorable mentions were awarded; the first was presented to Alina Sargsian (Clark) for her piece “Undeadly Thirst” with a $50 dollar check, the second was presented to Yanna Pashyan (Clark) for “Merhuman” with a $25 dollar check.

The films that inspired the students included: The Art of Getting By, Modigliani, Spiderman, The Shawshank Redemption, Avatar, Tangled, Alice in Wonderland, City Lights (Charlie Chaplin), Twilight, and Little Mermaid respectively. Students used various mediums from graphite on paper, Adobe Illustrator, watercolor, melted crayon, colored pencils, and markers. Monetary awards were granted to the students by the Armenian Education Foundation. The judges for the 6th Annual CASPS Art Contest were artist Samvel Saghatelian and an independent curator and art teacher Caroline Lais-Tufenkian. In his welcome remarks, Samvel praised the students for expressing their art and stated that “without art there is no life.” This concept was echoed by Dr. Katherine Fundukian Thorossian and Nayiri Nahabedian, who reconfirmed Glendale Unified School District’s commitment to the arts and the opportunities available to students to find their true passions.

Participants, judges, and district and community representatives at the Art Contest

On Tuesday, May 14th, CASPS hosted its 17th annual reception honoring the 2013 outstanding graduating Armenian students from the Glendale Unified School District (GUSD). Over 190 students who earned a grade point average of 3.5 or higher were honored at the reception held at The Glendale Adult Recreation Center. Joining the honorees were their parents, teachers, school counselors and administrators as well as GUSD and community leadership.

In his invocation, representing Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate of the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America, Very Reverend Father Muron Aznikian commended the honorees and encouraged them to remember the community from which they came and to make use of their education to give back to the community.

David Khachatrian, Mihran Hovhannesyan, Ani Avoundjian, and Pauline Pechakjian, the four honorees with the highest grade point average from each school represented addressed the attendees. Each thanked the key people in their lives and expressed enthusiasm for the new chapters ahead. All of the honorees distinguished themselves not only academically, but in their extracurricular activities and community service as well. The evening’s program highlighted their many accomplishments as students and members of their respective school communities.

In her keynote address, Professor Anahid Gharakhanian, Vice-Dean at Southwestern Law School and Hoover High School graduate, inspired the students with words of wisdom for their personal and academic growth.

Attendees also enjoyed pianist and junior at Clark Magnet High School, Allen Dishigrikyan who performed two traditional Armenian songs.

The evening’s ceremonies were concluded with congratulatory remarks by GUSD Board President Nayiri Nahabedian and the presentation of monetary awards and certificates by board member Laura Atoian. Honorees from each school received certificates from CASPS, U.S. Representative Adam Schiff, and State Assemblymember Mike Gatto. The four honorees with the highest grade point average received a $500 award sponsored by the Armenian Educational Foundation. CASPS thanks the Western Prelacy, and the Armenian Educational Foundation for their continued support.

Tereza Yerimyan, the mistress of ceremonies did a great job conducting the program and stressing this event’s unique opportunity to celebrate the positive aspects of our community.

Top four honorees at the GUSD ceremony

On June 4, 2013, CASPS honored more than 150 academically excelling Armenian students enrolled in Los Angeles Unified School District ESC North schools for their academic achievement. Students, parents, teachers, counselors, administrators and other community members were treated to a festive and memorable event, held at Grant High School.

Executive Director Arsineh H. Hovannisian welcomed the guests to CASPS’ seventh annual event and introduced the mistress of ceremonies, Mrs. Zepure Kivork, assistant principal at North Hollywood High School. Following the invocation and blessing by Very Reverend Father Muron Aznikian, representing Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Kivork invited two students from Grant High School and North Hollywood High School who wowed the audience with two traditional Armenian dances.

The keynote speaker for the event was LAUSD ESC North Administrator, Lisa Gaboudian. Her inspiring speech included a personal retrospective on life’s challenges and the importance of hard work and commitment to a dream.

Gaboudian also spoke on behalf of the Superintendent Byron Maltez, and expressed the District’s words of appreciation for the community and commendation for the students.

Gaboudian was followed by Sosi Dzhugarian of Van Nuys High School who recited beautiful Armenian poetry in Armenian and its translation in English.

The four students with the highest grade-point averages, Lusine Mezhlumyan, Nora Ashley Niazian, Viktoria Norekyan and Mariam Zadikyan then took stage for their personal addresses of appreciation. Their beautiful words were well-received by the audience. Each of these honorees received $500 by Mr. Razmig Hovanessian on behalf of the Armenian Educational Foundation. CASPS thanks the Western Prelacy and the AEF for their continued support.

Finally, Laura Atoian, Anna Keshishyan and Shake Ayvazian the organizers of the successful event, presented the certificates and awards to all the students. Each student received certificates from CASPS, LA City Mayor Elect Eric Garcetti and U.S. Congressman Brad Sherman or Tony Cardenas. Community leaders, the Superintendent, and CASPS representatives congratulated the students.

Top four honorees at the LAUSD ceremony

In 2012 school year, CASPS launched a brand new tutoring program called “Yes, I Can” to support high school sophomores in overcoming academic challenges. The goal of this pilot program is to open doors for those high school sophomores who need assistance with “working to capacity” and meeting the natural potential for academic success. CASPS works with counselors, teachers and families to support the program candidates. Since the program’s inception, CASPS tutors have provided in-home assistance in Algebra, Chemistry, English, Geometry, and History. Our present cadre of tutors includes four young women; all are GUSD graduates and currently attending colleges and universities. Marlow Tomasian says that “it is fulfilling to know you’re able to help another Armenian student”; and according to Sisian Ghahramanians, “ the smile on a student’s face who succeeds after numerous tries, is worth a million dollars.” To date, the program has had an 80% success rate with students setting goals, developing study skills, passing classes, and most importantly, tasting success and healthy self-esteem.

Established in 1994 under the auspices of the Western Prelacy, The Committee for Armenian Students in Public Schools was created by a group of concerned educators and citizen leaders to lay the foundation for a grassroots organization that would help address the social and educational needs of immigrant school children. Working in collaboration with school districts and administrators, students and parents, CASPS has served the community in various capacities through its various programs. To date, the programs have served over 5000 children and parents across ethnic groups in the Glendale and Los Angeles Unified School Districts.

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