Armenian Educational Foundation’s Oratorical Contest Winners Ari Ekmekjian & Armond Mnatsakanyan Each Awarded $1,000 Grand Prize
PASADENA, Calif.—Over 100 supporters attended Armenian Educational Foundation’s Inaugural Oratorical Contest on February 4, 2107, at the historic American Legion in Pasadena, California. The event united all five local Armenian high schools: A.G.B.U. Manoogian-Demirdjian High School, Holy Martyrs Ferrahian High School, Armenian Mesrobian High School, Rose & Alex Pilibos Armenian High School, and A.G.B.U. Vatche & Tamar Manoukian High School. Each school was represented by an Armenian language contestant and an English language contestant. The topic chosen for the Armenian competition was: Who is your Armenian role model, how did he or she influence your life, and the Armenian culture? The English contestants discussed: As an Armenian in the diaspora, why is it important to maintain your Armenian identity and what accomplishments will your generation achieve to advance the Armenian culture?
A panel of distinguished judges included Vivian Ekchian (Superintendent, Northwest at Los Angeles Unified School District), Ardy Kassakhian (Glendale City Clerk), and Sona Movsesian, (The Conan O’Brien Show) for the English competition. The judges for Armenian contest were Dr. Rubina Peroomian (Author, Professor and Community Activist), Osheen Keshishian (Owner/Editor in Chief of The Armenian Observer), and Zareh Sinanyan (Glendale City Councilman). Each of the 10 student competitors were given 4 minutes to impress their respective panel of judges with their oracy skills.
Armond Mnatsakanyan (11th grade) from Holy Martyrs Ferrahian High School was the winner of the English language competition and Ari Ekmekjian (12th grade) from A.G.B.U. Vatche and Tamar Manoukian High School was the winner of the Armenian language competition.
Glendale City Councilman Zareh Sinanyan in a Facebook post said “Listening to some awesome high schoolers compete at the AEF’s inaugural Oratorical Contest. Honored to serve as a judge on the panel. These kids …wow…When I grow up I want to be like them! Thank you AEF for organizing the competition and, hopefully, establishing a fine new tradition.”
AEF’s purpose in hosting the Oratorical contest was to promote public speaking in Armenian youth. In an era of smart phones, where students oftentimes interact by texting and posting on social media websites, the need to focus on oracy, the ability to express oneself fluently in speech, is more vital than ever. Speech competitions help train students in oral communication techniques; skills that allow students to become confident and engaged citizens, skilled professionals and successful advocates.