OAKLAND, Calif.—The Armenian Relief Society of Western USA’s Oakland “Erepouni” Chapter’s weekly Armenian school held a year-end hantes program on May 17, 2013.
The weekly Armenian school is unique in that it is held on Friday evenings – as opposed to Saturdays, like most other chapter schools – at the request of parents, many of whom are working young people living throughout the Oakland-East Bay area. The school has 35 students and 7 teachers. Along with principal Nora Shirikian and co-principal Nellie Azizian, the parents and teachers came together with the help of chapter members to hold a very inspiring and exciting year-end event.
This year also marked the 20th anniversary of the school’s founding, which was celebrated with a gala banquet and program in March. Therefore, this event attracted a large crowd of family members, chapter members, and friends of the school. A lively program included presentations by each class level: poems, plays, recitations, displays of students’ works, and songs. Included was the newly-written school anthem performed by all the students, much to the delight of attendees. Teachers were presented with flowers and gifts as acknowledgement of their dedication and hard work.
A highlight of the hantes was honoring five students, who attended the school for many years and were now graduating to move on to high school. The five were presented with special diplomas, prepared by the ARS Regional Executive, as well as certificates of recognition. Each also read a special message in Armenian expressing their experiences at the ARS Erepouni Armenian School. The five graduates were Armand Agopian, Veronica Matsoyan, Alex Collelo, Sophia Collelo, and Emily Gelerian. Graduating student Emily Gelerian charmed the audience by singing a classical aria as part of the entertainment.
One of the graduates, Sophia Collelo, on her own initiative, had gathered clothing and supplies, and shipped them to students in Armenia.