More than $500,000 Raised for Tufenkian Pre-School’s Modernization and Expansion Project at Anniversary Gala

VIEW GALLERY: Mr. & Mrs. Ralph and Savey Tufenkian surrounded by Tufenkian Pre-School's faculty, staff and administration during the anniversary gala

Ralph and Savey Tufenkian Donate $100,000

LOS ANGELES—More than 600 dedicated community members, parents, alumni, dignitaries, and supporters of St. Mary’s Richard Tufenkian Preschool and Kindergarten attended the school’s 45th Anniversary Gala at the California Science Center on Saturday, February 8, where the official launch of the capital campaign for the school’s Tufenkian 2025 Modernization and Expansion Project was celebrated under the wings of the Endeavour Space Shuttle.

Among those in attendance were Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian; Prelacy Vica-General Bishop Torkom Donoyan; Reverend Ardak Demirjian; Western Prelacy Executive Council Chairperson Garo Eshgian, Vice-Chair Meher DerOhannessian, and Secretary Elizabeth Boyajian; members of the Prelacy Board of Regents, Armineh Papazian, Pattyl Aposhian Kasparian, and Arlene Mouradian-Zenian; St. Mary’s Church Board Member Christine Hovnanian; representatives from the Armenian National Committee of American Glendale Chapter including Chairperson Lucy Petrosian; the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Glendale Aharonian chapter; Homenetmen Ararat Chapter Executive Board Chair, Serge Grakasian; a representative from the office of Congressman Adam Schiff; California State Senator Anthony Portantino; California Assemblymember Laura Friedman; a representative from the office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger; Glendale City Council Member Vartan Gharpetian; Glendale City Clerk Ardashes Kassakhian; Glendale Community College Board of Trustee Dr. Armine Hacopian; Glendale Unified School District Board President Dr. Armina Gharpetian; the school’s founders, Mr. and Mrs. Vahik and Alice Petrossian, and Mr. and Dr. Vahe and Armine Hacopian; and of course the school’s beloved benefactors of 30 years, Ralph and Savey Tufenkian, and the Tufenkian and Kalemkiarian families.

Alumni from the school, currently in high school, greeted guests presenting them with special 45th anniversary lapel pins, and ushered them into the Oschin Pavilion where the Endeavor Space Shuttle is stationed. The awe-inspiring hangar space was adorned with large-scale architectural renderings of the prospective Tufenkian campus, as well as a partial architectural model painted by the school’s kindergarten students. A colorful art exhibition featuring framed watercolor paintings by every single one of the school’s current students, accompanied by titles chosen by the young artists, was on display for all to enjoy. Also entertaining guests were roaming photographers and a photo station featuring an astronaut carrying the Tufenkian flag, and live orchestral music. At their seats, guests received the thematic 45th Anniversary Tufenkian Album, courtesy of the artistry of Helena Grigorian, featuring a bronze keepsake bookmark, congratulatory messages to the school as well as personal salutations and memorable photos from all of the program’s donors.

Following opening remarks by the night’s Master of Ceremonies Gevik Baghdassarian, an alumnus of the school and current member of the School Board, and invocation by his Eminence Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, dinner was served while a vocalist performed jazz and Armenian standards.

Artin Shaverdian, Chair of the School Board, then introduced a film by Sevag Vrej Koundakjian, especially made to mark this milestone anniversary, highlighting the value of the school in the community and its students’ lives, the significance of the school’s emergent curriculum and its teachers and administration, as well as to describe the value of the modernization and expansion project.

Shaverdian then addressed the audience by first expressing his immense gratitude to the night’s donors, all guests, and the school’s longstanding benefactors Mr. and Mrs. Ralph and Savey Tufenkian. He also took a moment to acknowledge the unmatched dedication of the school’s faculty and staff most of whom were present.

“This campaign is rooted in history but framed for tomorrow,” he said. “It honors the vision of our founders and the promise of our children.” He appealed to the audience to continue to support the Tufenkian 2025 Project, a project which seeks to add approximately 3,200 square feet of new building area consisting of classrooms and multi-purpose rooms, and to modernize the remaining classrooms and outdoor areas to better align the school’s emergent curriculum with its campus. Mr. Shaverdian stressed that with the steadfast support of the community and the generous donors in attendance, the school was looking forward to meeting again in 2025 to mark the conclusion of the campaign, but to not forget that the “broader campaign for the idea of Tufenkian Preschool is everlasting.”

Shaverdian concluded his remarks by announcing the names and commending the great work of all those individuals who had volunteered endless hours to bring this gala celebration to fruition. He then introduced a video greeting from Congressman Adam Schiff who congratulated the school and lent support to its future successes. Official State of California proclamations were presented by State Senator Portantino and Assemblymember Laura Friedman both of whom also conveyed endearing messages of reverence for the academic institution. A special recognition was also presented by a representative from Supervisor Kathryn Barger’s office.

Baghdassarian then joined Shaverdian on stage to discuss specifics of the fundraising campaign for Tufenkian 2025. Baghdassarian implored the audience to continue on its generous path and offer long-term support to the project. Together, they launched the school’s Mobile Cause/text-to-give service which facilitates instant giving via a mobile smart phone. The excitement of the audience was palpable in the immediate stream of new donations all of which were reflected instantly on the big screen for all to see. Shaverdian and Baghdassarian then recognized three visionary donor families Mr. and Mrs. Armen and Katherine Panossian, Mr. and Mrs. Bobken and Hasmik Amirian, and Mr. and Mrs. Levik and Romina Hagobian.

The school’s Director, Arsine Aghazarian, then took the stage to acknowledge the Tufenkian family, all invited guests and dignitaries in attendance, expressing her gratitude to lifelong community supporters, alumni and parents of alumni of the school. She gave brief historical highlights from the school’s 45-year journey and called up to the stage, to receive special recognition and a gift, founding members of the school Mr. and Mrs. Vahik and Alice Petrossian, and Mr. and Dr. Vahe and Armine Hacopian, along with former school Director Dr. Ida Karayan. Rouben Gourjian, one of the founding members, was not in attendance. She thanked these valued members of the school’s family for their vision, their dedication and their continued guidance and support of the school. Gifts were presented to the aforementioned honorees by the three teachers with the longest tenure at the school Aghavni Astoor, Ani Misserlian, and Ani Hovagimian.

She continued to thank the school’s Parent Support Committee’s (PSC) Gala Committee, who under the effective leadership of Christine Zohrabians, worked resolutely to make this celebration memorable.

Aghazarian then individually acknowledged all current faculty and staff, and those who had significant roles at the school through the years. On behalf of the ANC Glendale Chapter, Chairperson Lucy Petrosian also presented recognition certificates to each teacher and staff member. Young alumni volunteers escorted those being recognized to receive commemorative gifts.

To conclude her remarks, Aghazarian shared heartwarming words about the entire Tufenkian family, specifically Mr. and Mrs. Ralph and Savey Tufenkian who have never faltered in their encouragement, support, and guidance of the school since the tragic death of their son Richard, 30 years ago. “We owe our success to our gracious and generous benefactors, Mr. and Mrs. Ralph and Savey Tufenkian, and to the extended members and relatives of the Tufenkian Family, Paul and Sandra Kalemkiarian, and Greg and Caroline Tufenkian,” Aghazarian said as she presented Mr. and Mrs. Tufenkian with gifts of appreciation.

The prelate referenced the poignancy of the project’s moniker “Building Together, Nurturing Generations.” He reflected on the significance of community support in the success of all of our diasporan endeavors and underscored the paramount value of structured early education. With much delight, the Archbishop then announced a surprise $100,000 donation from Mr. and Mrs. Ralph and Savey Tufenkian to mark this momentous occasion and in support of the Tufenkian 2025 Modernization and Expansion Project. The audience roared in excitement and the collective funds raised passed the half a million-dollar mark.

Accomplished alumna Sareen Habeshian then spoke of the positive influence of the school on her academic journey and professional career. And, to conclude the program, Max Tufenkian and Sara Cipolla, nephew and niece of the late Richard Tufenkian, both alumni of the school, paid a moving tribute to their uncle. Max described growing up with stories of his uncle with his family members always describing him as the most loving and lovable guy. Sara reminisced about her days at Tufenkian and announced her excitement at becoming a Tufenkian parent in the forthcoming academic year. Both shared their great pride in their family and their family’s immeasurable love for the school.

The evening came to a festive close by graciously donated performances by popular Armenian singers Armenchik and Super Sako. Guests parted with gifts of appreciation in the form of beautifully boxed wines donated by the Kalemkiarian family of Wine of the Month.

It is notable that this gala’s success was a direct result of the tireless work of PSC members who spared no effort to engage the community in solicitation of support for the school. “The generosity of our community’s business owners and service providers was truly heartwarming,” commented Zohrabians, “We received an overwhelming amount of in-kind donations, unimaginable discounts, and direct gifts of services and supplies. It truly helped us honor our fiduciary duty to the school. This is not just a reflection of the greatness of our school but also that of the kindness of our community.”

By the end of the evening, $535,000 was raised in support of the Tufenkian Modernization and Expansion Project. “Our community is a force to be reckoned with when it supports a worthwhile project. We are eternally grateful to every dollar donated today. We are doing all this for the kids. They are the center and goal of all of our efforts,” Baghdassarian stated.

To learn more about the Tufenkian Modernization and Expansion Project, and to participate in its success with your tax-deductible contribution, please visit To learn more about the school, please visit


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