The graduation ceremony of Siamanto Academy students took place at the Prelacy’s Hovnanian Hall on Saturday, June 4, with families and loved ones attending the happy occasion convened under the auspices of Archbishop Anoushavan, Prelate. The graduating students are Alex Varjabedian, Andre Tavitian, Eddie Hazarian, Nareg Kasardjian, and Salpy Ketchelian.
Very Rev. Fr. Sahag Yemishian, Vicar, as well as Prelacy officials, including Hagop Khatchadourian, chairman of the Lay Council, attended in person or watched the ceremony by livestream.
Following the opening prayer, Hera Makhoulian, chairman of the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC), which sponsors the Siamanto Academy, addressed the graduates, along with the Prelacy’s Executive Director Dr. Vartan Matiossian, a current ANEC member and former director until 2019. Talin Daghlian, ANEC member and vice-chairperson of the Armenian Relief Society Eastern Regional, delivered remarks on behalf of the ARS, while Hagop Khatchadourian spoke on behalf of the Executive Council of the Prelacy.
ANEC director Mary Gulumian spoke about the challenging circumstances, including the Covid pandemic, that the graduating class of Siamanto faced in the last years and invited the Prelate to hand the diplomas and Armenian Virtual College certificates to the students.
In his closing words, Archbishop Anoushavan highly praised the students, who had dedicated their free time to Siamanto, and their parents, wishing that others in their circle will follow their example.
Nareg Kasardjian and Salpy Ketchelian share their impressions below:
“Upon first joining Siamanto nearly three years ago, I was greeted by Mary Gulumian’s beckoning welcome, which had encroached upon me in the newly discovered halls of the Prelacy. Back then, Siamanto Academy was in-person and we had various sessions with important cultural and religious figures. I distinctly remember learning about Kutahya tiles and even painted one myself. It was through interactive activities like these that I felt two new doors open for me: my thirst for Armenian culture and my innate love for our heritage.
“When Siamanto had first switched over to its current remote stage, I had the chance to become immersed within my Armenian studies once again as I found myself receiving lessons and lectures from experienced professionals from across the seas of the diaspora. Besides the benefits of a more in-depth approach to the Armenian language, new opportunities presented themselves for me to become connected with several like-minded individuals of my age, some of which I would become close friends with, allowing me to be able to practice the Armenian I had learned in class with them.
“Besides language classes, my three-year-long education has also given me the gifts and knowledge of other aspects of Armenian culture, such as art, music, church history, and more lately, architecture. The program’s director, Mary Gulumian has a keen eye for each student’s unique capabilities and does not neglect to present new challenges and educational milestones for her army of hayasers.”
“Siamanto has given me the opportunity to further my Armenian reading, writing, and speaking skills. Siamanto has also given me the opportunity to meet fellow students across the United States and teachers from around the world. In addition to improving my Armenian language skills, I have been able to learn more about Armenian culture. Over my two years at Siamanto I have learned about Armenian music, art, history, and architecture. I have been able to learn about the historical origins of Armenian music. I have also learned a lot about Armenian architecture and about many Armenian architects whose designs are standing across the world today. Siamanto has allowed me to improve my language skills and gain a greater understanding of Armenian culture. Siamanto is also like a family, and I know that I will always be welcome.”