BY MASHELLE KIRKMAN AND MARIA KARNIKIAN
LITTLE ARMENIA—The first week of a month long celebration of Hai Tahd at Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian School was an eventful one ahead of the Armenian National Committee of America 2012 Telethon. It started with the opening ceremonies which took place on Friday April 27th. The students and parents entered campus to festive music and lots of balloons. The environment was very enjoyable and a great way to inspire students to think about what Hai Tahd means to them.
The ceremony was emceed by Tamar Tufenkdjian and included inspirational speeches by Maria Karnikian, Tamar Tufenkdjian, and Dr. Aline Dorian. Maria Karnikian spoke about what it means to be an Armenian and how the cause does not stop after the commemoration of the Armenian Genocide on April 24th of each year, in fact it just begins with that day. “No, our work is not complete yet, as long as we have our Hai Tahd. We exist. Right? We are here right now as individuals and as a nation. Therefore Hai Tahd does too, because Hai Tahd is us and we are Hai Tahd.” In her speech Dr. Dorian encouraged students to chant “I am Hai Tahd” and spoke with them about what it means to be an Armenian today. Other elements of the ceremony included eighth grader Angelica Gevoglanian reading a poem and several tenth grade students singing a song all in Armenian.
By far the best part of the ceremony was the end when the entire school sang “Sardarabad” while senior Hayrapet Erganyan and kindergartener Nareh Dakessian each released a single dove as a symbol of peace and remembrance. When the song was over they both opened the cage and released ten more doves. The students were in awe and enjoyed the birds circling above the school as they entered the building to attend their classes. Overall, the ceremony was a great way to get students motivated about the numerous upcoming events related to the theme of “I am Hai Tahd.”
As part of a series of Hai Tahd educational celebrations, on Monday April 30th, the elementary students gathered together in the school’s library to attend a very exciting assembly. As a guest speaker, Arpie Mahserejian-Dabbaghian with colorful props, visual aids and enchanting story telling skills, inspired the students in the spirit of the themes of justice, freedom, fairness, and unity upon which the goals of Hai Tahd are based.
The students had the opportunity to have a hands on experience, to interact, ask questions, in exploring those important ideas. As a culminating activity, students were taught the skill of braiding the tricolor “bracelet of promise” pledging to remain faithful to their heritage and culture.
To end the week long celebration, on Thursday May 3, Congressman Adam Schiff came to the school to introduce Dr. Kay Mouradian and show a video of hers called “My Mother’s Voice.” The eighth, ninth, and tenth grade students had the opportunity to hear both of them speak before the video, then view it, and then ask questions about it afterward. Students asked questions about the Congressman Schiff’s work in Congress to get the Armenian Genocide recognized while others asked Dr. Mouradian about her journey researching her family history and involvement in the Armenian Genocide in Turkey. Overall it was an inspiring assembly and the students enjoyed being able to meet and speak with both of them individually after the presentation was over.
Events like the ones listed above are helping to inspire the students at Pilibos to be more involved in the “Armenian Cause.”