By Ani Shahinian
HOLLYWOOD–September 26 marked the official opening of the Rose & Alex Pilibos Armenian School’s state of the art gymnasium and library. It was a significant day in the school’s 35-year history as it represented the culmination of years of tireless work and dedication. Inspired by the biblical story of Noah’s ark–the library finds itself in "floating" form as it hovers above the gymnasium roof. School Principal Viken Yacoubian expressed that the library symbolizes transition and the immigran’s’ voyage–yet it is anchored firmly with huge columns representing Armenia’s heritage and culture.
Many community members and supporters were on hand–as student council president Ara Tomassian–the afternoon’s emcee–welcomed them. After Reverend Vassilian offered his blessings and congratulations–Board of Regents of Prelacy Schools member Roubina Peroomian spoke enthusiastically about the worthwhile project and its journey to completion.
Inspirational words by US Congresswoman Diane Watson–representing California’s 33rd Congressional district–encouraged the preservation of ethnicity and culture and praised the school’s integral role in educating young Armenian American students. She said the 33rd district–with its mix of Armenia’s–Greeks–Hispanics–among other ethnicities–is a true reflection of what America is about. The Congresswoman’spoke of parallels between the Armenian and African American communities–remarking–"We share a common heritage of having been transported through the diaspora to a new home in America." Watson noted the resilience of the Armenia’s–despite its history of suffering–and the unique contributions the Armenian American community has made to society. Pledging her continued commitment to representing Armenia’s in her district–Watson said that through such endeavors–"Your children and children’s children will never forget who they are."
On behalf of the school’s finance committee–Marie Demirjian extended gratitude to all who helped endlessly in the actualization of the project. Angela Sassounian–a member of the educational committee–said that the library will not only serve the needs of the students–but also the school’s teachers and parents–as well as the larger Pilibos family.
As the afternoon came to a close–Principal Viken Yacoubian acknowledged not only those who dedicated themselves to the project in the present time–but specifically extended appreciation to "those who came before us. It is the force of their vision–love–and commitment that has made the project possible." He remarked that the school will continue on its path–as the vision of becoming an integral part of the larger society–while being "anchored" by our Armenian heritage is realized.
StudioWorks Architects’ principals Robert Mangurian and Mary-Ann Ray–who designed the stunning building–were also present during the ceremony. They found harmony in the contradictory building types by fusing "exercise of the body" and "education of the mind." The pomegranate-red library can be entered through an existing four-story classroom building by elevator or via outdoor stairs with metal treads and jaunty nautical railings. Inside–the library is one big–long room housing 9,000 Armenian and English-language books–a reading room–a children’s storytelling nook–an online research area–and a librarian’s office. The 14,000-square-foot gym includes regulation high school basketball and volleyball facilities–bleacher seating for 275 people–a student store–an exercise room–locker rooms–restrooms–coaches’ offices–a maintenance shop–and equipment storage.