TUJUNGA–Calif.–After 14 years of leasing a school facility in La Crescenta–the Mekhitarist Fathers’ School relocated to a location of its own in the neighboring community of Tujunga on July 1. The new location–consisting of 4.5 acres of prime property–fronting on a major thoroughfare–Foothill Boulevard–was purchased for $1.8 million. Remodeling the property and making it suitable for educational purposes will add another $600,000 to the price tag–school officials said last week.
"We will hold the school’s Grand Opening on Sept. 8–and will continue with our academic program," said Fr. Nerses Sakayan–the vice-principal of the School. "This new facility becomes the latest pearl in the string of Mekhitarist educational institutions throughout the world. And we have the Armenian community and its many friends to thank for it."
Construction contracts have been signed with Armik Shahnazariants’ Glendale-based Amak Group Construction–and work has already started at a feverish pace to meet the deadline set by the school officials. "We will begin our academic year on time," Fr. Nerses promised.
September 8 is a significant date in the Mekhitarist Fathers’ long history. The religious and scholarly order was founded on that day in 1701 in Constantinople by Abbot Mekhitar of Sebastia.
The school has not missed an opening day yet–starting back to its early days in 1979. That year–it opened its doors to 12 students in a rented facility in Hollywood–before its 1984 relocation to La Crescenta. In June of this year–the school year ended with 360 students. Expectations for this year run even higher–with some grades already registered to capacity–forcing the school administration to stop admitting new students.
"With this new location–we have room to grow," Fr. Nerses noted. "We plan to add a classroom each year–so that in the year 2002 we will graduate the present 9th grade from high school." If his plans are realized–the Mekhitarist Fathers’ School will be the first Armenian high school in the Glendale-Burbank area.
Fr. Sakayan believed that the relocation will not disrupt the continuing students and their parents. The new location is close enough to the old familiar one and–once the construction plan is completed–the facility’s easy access– rustic setting–and ample space will more than make up for the temporary inconvenience–he said.
"With our new location facing Foothill Boulevard–the new Mekhitarist Fathers’ School will be a strong and visible testimony of the determination of the Armenian-American community to preserve our rich heritage in these hospitable shores," School Principal Fr. Augustin Sekulian observed.