GLENDLAE—The Arakelian Family led by Ron Arakelian Jr. has sponsored the renovation of the Getapi village school in the Shirak region of Armenia. This major renovation was done in memory of Jack Arakelian who was born in the village of Getapi on March 3, 1913 and later emigrated to the United States. The renovation was completed through the guidance and the management of the Armenian Educational Foundation. The Arakelians donated $75,000 to underwrite the renovation as part of the AEF’s 60th Anniversary celebration which took place in November 2010. Jack Arakelian was a long-time member of the AEF, serving as President from 1968 to 1979.
The village of Getapi (originally named Ghasmal) lies in the foothills of the Aragats mountain range. Getapi was founded in 1827-1828 by immigrants from Kars, Alashkert, Manazkert and Moush forming 40 households. In the mid 20th century its population reached 1100 and the current count is 830. Getapi is 18.6 miles from Gyumri and 62.2 miles from Yerevan.
The Getapi school building was originally built in 1950 and in 1994 it became a high school producing its first graduates in 1996. The school currently has 95 students, yet in the past that number reached 160. It has 21 teachers and 5 staff members.
Prior to the renovation, the school was in a deplorable condition. During the renovation the windows were replaced with new metal/vinyl type windows, the floors were replaced and painted, the walls were all repaired and painted, the doors were replaced, new gutters were installed outside the building, and new concrete walkways were installed along all sides of the building. The Arakelian’s donation also helped furnish the school with student desks, teacher tables, filing cabinets, teacher chairs, and blackboards.
The administrator of the village, Sanosyan, stated that the school renovation has had an enormous impact for the village. “The school was very humid and the overall sanitary conditions were very poor which potentially could have caused disease and other health hazards. However, after the renovations all these issues have been resolved.” Mr. Sanosyan also said “this program has been very important and has become a source of inspiration for the villagers. They feel that their compatriots in America are with them and if necessary can help financially and morally. Our deepest gratitude to you. The people of the village are appreciative and grateful to the AEF and the Arakelian family for their generosity.”
The villages of Armenia have great significance for the nation and for the Armenian people. These villages hold the key to Armenian traditions and customs; hence, their preservation is imperative. Today’s global circumstances put more pressure on Armenian villages by threatening their mere existence. Therefore, it is important to keep the Armenians strongly connected with their land. Recognizing the importance of the village, AEF focused its renovation program to village schools in Armenia, Artsakh and Javakhk.
For 60 years AEF has been providing financial assistance to students and educational institutions, including, allocation of funds for student scholarships, school grants and renovation of over 180 village schools. This could not have been possible without the generous support of benefactors such as the Arakelian family.