WATERTOWN, MA–The Mirak Family Foundation has generously pledged a leadership gift of $200,000 to Watertown’s St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School.
The donation to support the school’s mission of educating a second generation of Armenian Americans followed a meeting between Robert Mirak and Julia Mirak Kew and school principal Houry Boyamian.
The Mirak Family was enthusiastic about the quality of bilingual education at the school, the low student to teacher ratio, the quality of the teaching staff, and that since 2003 the school has been accredited by the Association of Independent Schools in New England.
“We are honored that the Mirak Family has made such a generous commitment to our school,” Principal Boyamian said after accepting the first installment of the five-year gift. “This leadership gift will help ensure that generations of Armenian Americans will continue to be able to access a quality bilingual bicultural education.”
Since its establishment in 1984, more than 400 students have been educated in Armenian language and history and 177 students have graduated from St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School. Students in several grades score in the top 10-15 percent nationwide on the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills for Language and Math, and graduates have attended prestigious universities with full scholarships and gone on to become community leaders.
Dr. Mirak is the son of the late John and Artemis Mirak, who were survivors of the Armenian Genocide from Arapkir. His book, “Torn Between Two Lands: Armenia’s in America, 1890 to World War I” was published by Harvard University Press. As a scholar and community leader, he expressed the importance of preserving an Armenian identity in the diaspora. “As the son of Genocide survivors, I understand the challenges of bicultural living and identity in America,” explained Dr. Mirak. “Our family is grateful that St. Stephen’s School is investing resources in educating young people in Armenian language and history.”
His granddaughter Christina Kew attends the school, and daughter Julia, trustee of the Mirak Family Foundation and the Armenian Cultural Foundation, has commended the staff and school leadership for providing a nurturing environment and helping her family preserve their Armenian heritage.
“My sister Jennifer Mirak Leach is also part of our family foundation, and she is envious that I can send my daughter to St. Stephen’s School,” Julia said. “I can speak for all of us when I say our family is proud that we can help the school upgrade its existing space, keep tuition affordable, and enhance the school’s library so students will have access to cutting edge resources.”
“Our goal is to continue recruiting and retaining qualified teachers and administrators, building and maintaining a growing enrollment, ensuring the school’s long term sustainability, and creating the best possible school campus,” explained Principal Boyamian. “The commitment of the Mirak Family gives us great hope that we will be successful. We are currently implementing a multi-year strategic plan for growth, and we hope the Mirak Family gift will also inspire others to invest in our unique programs.”
The Mirak Family has supported a number of charitable and education institutions, including Arlington’s hospital, libraries and the preservation of historic structures, the Armenia Tree Project, and the Armenian Cultural Foundation in Arlington, MA.
St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School is a private pre-kindergarten through grade five school dedicated to educational excellence in an environment rich in Armenian culture.