GUMRI–Armenia (Noyan Tapan–Armenpress)–A 300-student school–whose construction and furnishings were sponsored by the Los Angeles-based Armenian Educational Foundation–through a donation by Mr. and Mrs. Ralph and Savey Tufenkian–was inaugurated Sunday in Gumri.
Hundreds of Gumri residents and members of a 95-person delegation from the AEF were on hand to witness the opening of the school dedicated to the memory of benefactor Tufenkians’ son Richard–who perished in a tragic car accident several years ago.
A celebratory mood was in the air as traditional Armenian musicians in folkloric costumes welcomed the Tufenkians–the AEF delegation and others who converged on the earthquake stricken Gumri on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the Dec. 7–1988 devastating earthquake.
Also present at the official opening ceremonies for the school were presidential advisor and member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Executive Council of Armenia Vahan Hovanessian–Armenia’s Minister of Education Levon Mkrtchyan–US Ambassador to Armenia Michael Lemmon and an alumnus of the school academician Karlen Adamian.
Arch. Nerses Bozabalian blessed the school–following which a ribbon cutting ceremony was held by Armenia’s First Lady Bella Kocharian and Shirag district governor Ararat Gomtsian. A symbolic key to the school was presented to Savey Tufenkian.
The guests and residents toured the school and were presented with the facilities which will house 300 students.
Officials from the Richard Tufenkian Armenian Nursery School and Kindergarten were also present in Armenia for the opening of the school.
On Monday–the 95-member AEF delegation–headed by Savey Tufenkian–met with President Robert Kocharian.
In thanking the Tufenkians and the AEF for their donation–Kocharian said that the school was a generous gift to the children of the earthquake zone.
"It is not an honor for our government to have such conditions in the earthquake zone ten years following the tragedy," said Kocharian referring to the still devastated region of Armenia.
However–the president expressed confidence that through the active participation of the Diaspora–Armenia would be able to "forever rid itself of the concept of an earthquake zone."
The presidential press service reported that Kocharian also stressed the recent increase in relations and cooperation between Armenia and the Diaspora.
"We expect your [the Diaspora’s] active involvement and assistance in the in various reform projects which aim to make Armenia a stable–prosperous and strong nation," Kocharian told the visiting AEF delegation.
"It is our collective goal to create a strong Armenia and a strong Diaspora," concluded Kocharian.
Later that same day–Kocharian also met with a 100-person delegation from the Armenian General Benevolent Union.