MISSION HILLS—C & E Merdinian Armenian Evangelical School recently celebrated the 30th anniversary of the school’s founding at a gala banquet held at the Deukmejian Ballroom of the Ararat Home in Mission Hills, California, on Sunday March 4.
The Banquet was a huge success. More than 350 guests and dignitaries attended, including members of the school’s Board of Directors, faculty, administration, students, parents, alumni, founding members, members of the PTO, the Women’s Auxiliary, past and present AMAA Board members and officers, Armenian Evangelical ministers, representatives of the Western Prelacy and Western Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church, representatives of the Armenian Catholic Church, the Consul General of the Republic of Armenia, the first President of the American University of Armenia, and members of the Armenian press.
Hreir Sagherian was the Master of Ceremonies for the evening. He is an industrial engineer and a sales executive with IBM Corporation. He has led the AEUNA youth committee for many years, and he currently serves on the Board of Directors of Camp AREV. Mr. Sagherian introduced Dr. Vahe Nalbandian, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Merdinian School.
Dr. Nalbandian thanked the attendees, the sponsors of the event as well as members of the Banquet Committee, the PTO and the Women’s Auxiliary. He introduced Mrs. Lina Arslanian, the newly appointed Principal of the school. Prior to her being elevated to the principal’s position, Arslanian served the school capably for thirteen years in various capacities, as teacher, department chair, and curriculum coordinator.
Recent accomplishments of the school were mentioned, including renewal of the school’s accreditation for a full six-year term, the highest SAT scores achieved by its students in the school’s history, and the major renovations made to the campus facilities.
During the past twelve months, the school has been the beneficiary of three major grants: a very large gift from the Armenian Evangelical Social Service Center for the repair and renovation of the school’s buildings and grounds, a major gift from Anahis Derian-Boolghoorjian for the renovation of the school’s assembly hall, and a substantial gift from the Ahmanson Foundation for the upgrading of the school’s computer lab.
On behalf of the Merdinian School Board of Directors, Dr. Nalbandian expressed his sincere gratitude to these generous donors. He presented a plaque on behalf of the Board of Directors to the Armenian Evangelical Social Service Center and to its Executive Director, Hagop Loussararian, as a token of their appreciation.
For twenty-five years, the Armenian Evangelical Social Service Center has provided valuable services to the community of refugees and immigrants who have arrived here from Armenia and the Middle East by helping them resettle in the Glendale area, find employment, and become productive members of society.
Mr. Loussararian is one of the visionaries who planned and founded Merdinian School. He served as a Board member and Chair of the Personnel Committee during the early years of the school’s existence. His love for the school has remained very much alive.
Dinner followed the invocation by Rev. Ara Chakerian. After dinner, Dr. Nalbandian recognized Mrs. Anahis Derian-Boolghoorjian, a registered nurse and a philanthropist, for her generous donation to Merdinian School and various other organizations, including the AMAA, Haigazian University, Camp AREV, Sahag-Mesrob school and the Cilicia Armenian Evangelical Church in Pasadena. Upon completion of its renovation, Merdinian School’s assembly hall shall be named the Aram and Anahis Boolghoorjian Hall.
A musical interlude ensued. After that, Peter Kougasian, Esq., an AMAA Vice President, Assistant District Attorney for the County of New York, and a gifted speaker, delivered the captivating keynote speech entitled “Why Merdinian? What is the purpose of a Christian, Armenian education in this increasingly secular world?”
Kougasian made a compelling case for Merdinian School, where children are taught the Bible, along with the Armenian language, history, and culture. He regards the assumption that religion and education must be kept antiseptically separate as being a fallacy. He explained the fallacy by quoting the epigram of the medieval philosopher St. Anselm: “I do not understand, that I may then believe. I believe, that I may then understand.” Kougasian stated that when religion and education are separated, teaching becomes sterile. As the book of Proverbs tells us, the very beginning of wisdom is the fear of God.
The keynote speaker was followed by brief messages by Mr. Grigor Hovhannissian, Consul General of the Republic of Armenia in Los Angeles, and Helen Haig, daughter of Alice Haig, who played a key role in the establishment of the school and who served as the first Chair of the Board of Directors and Chair of the Personnel Committee.
The Principal delivered her message both in English and in Armenian. After that, ten alumni ascended to the podium, introduced themselves, and mentioned the years they graduated from Merdinian, the colleges they attended, the career paths they now follow, and what key principles the school taught them. One of the alumni read a passage that included remarks made by each of the ten.
Rev. Joe Matossian, Minister to the Union, concluded this highly successful celebration of the school’s 30th anniversary with his benediction.