MONTEBELLO, Calif.— Over 700 Armenian school students from across Southern California gathered at the Armenian Genocide Martyrs Monument April 20 in Montebello, California, to commemorate the Armenian Genocide and to honor the memories of Armenian Genocide martyrs, in what has become an annual tradition.
Students, parents, faculty, and administration were present from the following California Armenian schools: Ari Guiragos Minassian Armenian School, Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) Manoogian-Demirdjian School, Armenian Mesrobian School, Armenian Sisters Academy, Charlotte and Elise Merdinian Armenian Evangelical School, Holy Martyrs Ferrahian Armenian School, Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian School, Sahag – Mesrob Armenian Christian School, St. Gregory Alfred & Marguerite Hovsepian School, Vahan & Anoush Chamlian Armenian School.
In the morning, Mesrobian Middle and High School students marched from campus toward the monument, a decades old tradition for the school. Since the Centennial year of the Armenian Genocide, the commemoration at the Montebello Monument encompassing all schools has become an annual tradition.
“By gathering here today, we are showing the world the unity of our new generation of students, and our will to stand up and fight for the Armenian Cause,” said President of Mesrobian High School’s Associated Student Body Council, Alex Manoukian, who welcomed everyone as students arrived and emceed the commemoration ceremonies.
Principal of Armenian Mesrobian School David Ghoogasian invited the principals and representatives of each school during his opening remarks, emphasizing the importance of a united student commemoration on behalf of all Armenian schools.
Principal Ghoogasian also thanked City of Montebello representatives present at the commemoration: Mayor of the City of Montebello Vivian Romero, Councilmember Jack Hadjinian (Mesrobian Class of 1996), Francesca Skyler, Montebello City Manager, Ashod Mooradian (Mesrobian Class of 1987), City Treasurer, Parks and Recreation Director David Sosnawski, Ben Kim, Director of Community Development, Jose Medrano with Montebello Transportation Services, Montebello Firefighters Freddy Jimenez and Richard Volkoff of Engine 55, Montebello Police officers Ernie Barron and Scott Howard, Building Maintenance representative Mel Pastion, and Clerical Assistant Tamara Arzoumanyan.
One student from each school led the opening prayers and pledge of allegiance, followed by the Armenian National Anthem by all students.
Mayor of the City of Montebello Vivian Romero read an excerpt from the Armenian Genocide Proclamation recently passed by the Montebello City Council and presented an original signed copy to Principal Ghoogasian, followed by remarks by Former Mayor of the City of Montebello and current Councilmember Jack Hadjinian (Mesrobian Class of 1996), the first mayor of Armenian descent of the City of Montebello.
Mesrobian 7th grade student Alik Artinian powerfully recited Bebo Simonian’s ‘The Toll of the Armenian Bell.’
Students gathered after the opening ceremony to lay flowers at the base of the Monument as the Mesrobian Middle School Choir sang “Armenian Soldier.”
Closing prayers were led by Very Reverend Muron Azniguian and Rev. Ashod Kambourian of Holy Cross Armenian Apostolic Cathedral.