The St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School, in Watertown, Mass. launched a virtual speaker series, the “SSAES Alumni RoundTable” on Tuesday, March 9, featuring school alumnae Teny Avakian (’94), Araz Chiloyan (’05), Nairi Krafian (’07), and Meghri DerVartanian (’08). These graduates are either employed in Armenia, involved in non-profits in Armenia or have close ties to the homeland. The speaker series will be held every third Tuesday of the month at 7:30 p.m.
SSAES Principal, Houry Boyamian, welcomed the panelists and attendees in Armenian & English. She hoped that the Alumni Round Table would help parents and the community gain a greater understanding of what the school’s alumni have accomplished and how the school has been a part of their journey. She shared that the next Alumni Roundtable would be held on Tuesday, April 20.
SSAES Interim Curriculum Coordinator, Heather Krafian shared that all the panelists had similar experiences as students, shared similar paths in their life journey pursuing passions while giving back to the Homeland.
The evening was an opportunity to ask Alumnae questions that highlighted their various journeys. They all shared that lifelong friendships and close bonds, along with amazing teachers made lasting impressions on them. For each of them, SSAES was a Family.
The panelists shared that although leaving SSAES was emotionally difficult, their academic and social transition to secondary & higher education went smoothly. They felt prepared as they entered high level math classes, pursued honors, and AP courses. They were passionate that the school set them up for success as they were taught respect as well as discipline for learning and hard work.
The phrase “Նախ դաս, յետոյ խաղ/First Lessons, Then Play” was instilled at a very young age. They each strived for “Գերազանց/Excellence.” To put forth their best effort and of course earn stickers from Mrs. Ardemis. They noted the teachers instilled a passion in them, especially in Armenian, which they carry with them as adults until today. This culminated in their establishing nonprofits in and for Armenia, as well as living and working there.
When asked how their Armenian education at SSAES prepared & shaped their life experiences, both academically & professionally, they shared that they appreciated the various sacrifices their parents made to send them to an Armenian School as well as appreciation for the opportunity and gift of reading, writing & speaking Armenian.They shared the value of the Armenian language and becoming bilingual. A heightened sense of Armenian pride was instilled which enabled our Alumnae to work in Armenia, and found nonprofits to help the homeland. The panelists shared the phrase “Ինչ քան լեզու գիտես, այդ քան աւելի լաւ մարդ ես/The more languages you know makes you a better person.” This holds true at SSAES for our Alumni. They shared their appreciation for their dedicated Armenian teachers and how invaluable they were.
In closing, the guests answered a two part question. If they could offer one piece of advice to the students, what would it be? If they could offer one piece of advice to the parents about the importance of sending their child to an Armenian School, what would it be? Our Alumnae reminded our students to enjoy their time at SSAES and cherish the friendships they developed. Advising all to maintain these connections beyond graduation into their young adult lives, as these friends were now a part of their community. The Alumnae reminded graduates that they will become ambassadors in their school communities and beyond and to take all they have learned and impart that knowledge to others.
The alumnae shared sound advice for the parents on the importance of sending their child to an Armenian School and the value of being bilingual.