LA CRESCENTA–Calif.–More than three thousand students from Ventura County and San Fernando Valley public and private schools participated in the Los Angeles Times "Holiday Wishes" writing and art contest. Students from kindergarten through the eighth grade submitted either a letter to Santa Claus or a "Holiday Dream" essay expressing their beliefs–hopes and wishes for the season and the new year. Other students expressed their messages with original drawings.
From among more than 100 finalists–editors and staff member of the LA Times chose ten winners from in the areas of writing and drawing. Two Chamlian Armenian School students were among the two top ten winners.
In his award winning letter to Santa–Hrair Simonian of the seventh grade–wrote that he wanted nothing for himself but wished for "…all the less fortunate people to be with their loved ones and have a great Christmas feast."
Eighth grader Emin Issakhanian’s watercolor of a group of children holding hands and encircling a Christmas tree designed like a world map was titled "Peace."
Both entries were published in the newspaper’s December 19–1997–special section–as was the letter to Santa Claus from Fifth grader Haig Diradourian–one of the finalists acknowledged in print.
The two students–along with their families–their teacher Arax Miller–Chamlian Vice-Principal Garabet Moumdjian attended an awards ceremony on December 18–1997–at the LA Times Woodland Hills facility. The winners were presented with mounted and framed copies of their winning entries–$25 gift certificates from Northridge Shopping Mall–and other gifts.
Julia. C. Wilson of the newspapers stated that the letters and drawing were "insightful–touching–and in some cases–humorous."
She went on to say that the contest was an enriching experience for everyone involved with it at the newspapers–a sentiment shared by all at Chamlian.