MONTEBELLO–Currently one of the oldest Armenian schools to have ever been built in California–Mesrobian School celebrated its 31st anniversary Sunday–rededicating itself to the pursuit of education and its commitment to making the Armenian youth stronger and better-prepared for the challenges ahead.
The celebration also marked the unveiling of major renovations to the school–and signaled the end of its 10-year rental payment period.
Held in the school’s newly-renovated 1.2 million dollar banquet hall–funded primarily by private and public community donations–school officials proudly highlighted their revamped basketball and volleyball courts–their new classrooms and with improved lighting– their library filled with new books–and many other part of the campus that had received a face-lift over the years.
The day’s festivities actually began in the afternoon on Sunday–as a mid-day luncheon was followed by a tour of classrooms for parents and community members.
"Thirty two years ago–Mesrobian Armenian School was built on a plot of land here in Los Angeles–and now–32 years later–we are having a rededication ceremony of the school on that same plot of land," said Mesrobian principal David Ghoukassian. "Montebello’s Armenian community–along with this school–was founded by six men with big dreams–Harry Karian–Arshavir Petrosian–Kirakos Magdesian–Gregory Petrosian– Vagharshag Dilanian and Mkrtich Mosikian–who is also the only living founder." Ghoukassian also thanked the ANCHA for its role over the years– saying it was largely responsible not only for the community’s resurgence–but the school’s survival as well.
Among the distinguished public officials in attendance Sunday was Pico Rivera Vice Mayor Garth Gardner–Pico Rivera City Councilmember Peter Ramirez–Montebello Mayor Bill Molinari–who donated $500 to the school–Montebello Vice Mayor Ed Pizzorno– and Montebello School District members Darryl Heacock–Frank Serrano and Hector Chacon.
Several prominent Armenian officials were in attendance as well– including Vatche Madenlian–Sarkis Kitsinian–Arman Keosian and Vahik Sadoorian of the Prelacy Executive Council–Armen Golnazarian of the Armenian Educational Foundation–and representatives from the ARF "Dro" Chapter–the ARS "Ani" and "Nairy" Chapters– and the Montebello Homenetmen Chapter.
"We are all very please to once again be back here in this house–this house of learning," said Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian. "It is an honor to be here with you all–with all of these important people who have helped make this place a reality.
"Last week we celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Holy Cross Cathedral– and today– we celebrate the anniversary of Mesrobian Armenian School. I praise you all for not only helping keep the Cathedral standing for so long–but for also keeping the school’s door open for so long." Madenlian also spoke Sunday–extending the Prelacy Executive Council’s words of praise and congratulations to the school and its volunteers.
"We are all here tonight in victory–because we are here on our own soil– and doing just fine. Now that we have taken care of the building’s needs–we must redirect our focus to our youth–and make sure our students are properly educated and kept Armenian."
Zaven Malkesian–a member of Mesrobian’s Finance Committee–said $500,000 of the total renovation cost was secured by the Holy Cross Board of Trustees–while the remaining $700,000 was raised through private donations and the school itself.
Malkasian also recognized the efforts of the Lincy Foundation–which has donated $100,000 annually to the school for the past three years–and thanked Dr. Hagop Dikranian– Dr. Haig Manjikian–Hovsep Garibian and Dr. Raffi Chalian–who co-signed on the loan for the school.
Ron and Goharig Gabriel–pre school sponsors– and Dr. Raffi Minasian– a computer lab sponsor–were also recognized for their donations over the years. Malkesian also thanked the school’s architect– Simon Garbooshian– and contractor Hamo Nazarian–who both made Mesrobian a reality–and pointed out that in the school’s yard– a monument had been erected to recognize all the people who donated time and money to Mesrobian.
"I would just like to tell you all that for the past two years–while catering to the needs of the Holy Cross Cathedral–the Holy Cross Cathedral Board of Trustees have also worked on improving Mesrobian Armenian School–raising more than $700,000 for its improvement," said Dickranian.
Vart Minassian–representing the Club Mesrobian Alumni Organization–and Marsha Gabrielian of the Parent-Faculty Committee–also thanked all in attendance for their support over the years.
"Mesrobian was America’s first daily kindergarten–and from the outset–we decided teaching Armenian would be its main focus," said Roubina Pakradouni. "Many schools have emulated Mesrobian since then–and we’re very proud of it."