By Alina Ana Azizian
On Wednesday–June 8–the Committee for Armenian Students in Public Schools (CASPS) held its 9th Annual Reception Honoring Outstanding Armenian Graduating Students of the Glendale Unified School District. Incredible students–beaming parents–distinguished community leaders–wonderful speakers–and devoted educators gathered to honor the academic achievemen’s of Armenian–American students in GUSD schools who earn a GPA of 3.5 or higher.
"CASPS often focuses its efforts on the socio-academic issues concerning Armenian-American students," explained Arsineh H. Hovannisian when we first met to discuss the affair. "This reception is an opportunity for us to focus on the good–to shine the spotlight on the achievers. And so–we convened for the 9th consecutive year to honor students with certificates–scholarships–and awards."
Throughout the event–guests alternated from dabbing tears from their eyes to chuckling at various accounts of experiences. Early on in the evening–students with the highest GPA from each of the four GUSD high schools were asked to say a few words. As expected–the students each took turns thanking CASPS–as well as their teachers and families. However–unlike other thank you speeches–as these four young adults with promising futures took their turns at the podium–there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. Even I felt the sudden urge to call home and say–"I love you ma!"
But just as the tears began to swell in our eyes–Councilmember Bob Yousefian took the podium reminding students–"There is life after high school." The sentimental audience broke into laughter. GUSD Superintendent Dr. Michael Escalante also delivered a powerful speech reminding students of the importance of education and perseverance–and congratulating them for their high academic achievemen’s.
Of course–no one stole the show quite like the keynote speaker–Kevin Welsh–co-principal of Hoover High School. He energetically relayed experiences of growing up as an Irish–American. "I remember the day my mom came home and said–’We’re going to an Irish family restaurant!’ " he said–and explained how his own experience had taught him that every culture has its own nuances that not everyone notices or understands. His speech drew even more laughs as he thanked Armenian–Americans for being a part of the "Jonathan Club" at school ("Hasmik jon–Lena jon," etc). In his charismatic way–Welsh was able to convey to the students the importance of their education–and their futures as successful Armenian– Americans.
Overall–the event was a great hit with the crowd. Members of the musical band–"In Progress…" generously donated their time and talent to add some flavor to the event (not that the wonderful food at Brandview wasn’t enough).
In the end–parents rushed forward with cameras as students went up to receive their certificates. I sat there in the corner–and couldn’t help but smile ear to ear. As a young adult–I so often hear negative commen’s about "youth these days," but these 156 students symbolize everything right and good about our community. I’d like to congratulate CASPS for another wonderful year and reception but–more importantly–I’d like to congratulate the students on their achievemen’s and wish them success in their future endeavors.