ENCINO–Back to school from a "hectic" long vacation–was marked by Congressman Brad Sherman’s visit to our school. The school prepared a special program for the Congressman’s visit and as scheduled–the program started at 10 a.m. with the school choir singing the United States and Armenian National Anthems under the direction of Alfred Mardoyan.
The representative of the Student Council–Alex Beylerian welcomed the Congressman–the First Battalion Chief–the fire fighters of Fire Station 83–the community representatives–the guests and the entire audience.
On behalf of his fellow students–Beylerian spoke with pride about attending Ferrahian School and went on to say–"Ferrahian nurtures (this) common bond through extracurricular activities aimed at instilling and strengthening students with a sense of Armenian belonging and identity–moral values–and the requests needed in a culturally diverse society that makes this great country the United States of America."
He added that the events of September 11–2001 had touched the students and student body enormously. Thus–immediately–a response team was formed to raise funds to help the families of the victims. Project ‘Car Wash America’ was set up which generated more than $3,000 and through other fundraising activities–the figure rounded up to $4,000.
The students then greeted the Principal–John Kossakian–who in turn welcomed at length all the audience. The Principal first explained why the Armenia’s celebrated Christmas on January 6–a tradition that is observed for centuries and then speaking of longevity he added–"I believe this school [Ferrahian] has its own modest record of it." He spoke highly about the Ferrahian School and its pursuit of excellence and model citizenship. In turn–he expressed his admiration for the response the students exhibited–in his words–"As grandchildren of survivors of the Armenian Genocide–nothing less was expected from this student body." And he thanked the students. The Principal then presented Congressman Brad Sherman especially from the vantage point of being a prominent members of the Armenian Caucus in the House of Representatives and invited him to the podium.
The students and the audience welcomed the Congressman with applause and a standing ovation. Sherman introduced the San Fernando district that he represented and explained the plans to expand his constituency. He spoke about the bond that existed between himself and the Armenian people–he named the many challenged he has faced supporting the Armenian interests–his efforts in recognizing the Armenian Genocide–his constant battle to see that Armenian and Nagorno Karabakh get their fair share of American aid–and most recently–his political battle to realize that the Bake/Jihan gas pipeline run through Armenia. He then acknowledged the Armenian Government’s stance towards terrorism. In his address–Congressman Sherman encouraged the students to join the army–the navy–the marines and the air force; to be in involved in politics–attend internship programs–and to take the advantage of all the benefits that the Congressman’s office has to offer.
The Congressman followed his remarks with a question and answer session. Pressed for time–the Congressman was only able to answer some of the many challenging questions referring to politics–terrorism–social security concerns–etc. honestly and forthright.
The Congressman then invited Mr. John Kossakian to the podium to present him a United States flag that has flown over the US Capitol along with its "Certificate of Authenticity."
The enthusiastic atmosphere reached its pinnacle when the fire fighter team was invited to the podium. The students instantly applauded and gave a long and warm standing ovation. The Student Council co-chairpersons presented the check to Batt. Chief Robert Rose. Captain Rose spoke very highly about the students; he invited them to go and visit their fire station–and added–"These kids are the future of our great nation."
The event concluded with a reception elegantly prepared by the School Parent Teacher Support Committee.