The Siamanto Academy is a special weekly youth course that groups students aged 13-18 in an effort to strengthen their identity by learning the language and culture.
Begun in 1981 by Houri Sahagian-Papazian, the Siamanto Academy is sponsored by the Armenian National Education Committee and was initially limited to New York and New Jersey youth as it was based at the Prelacy headquarters in New York. Yet from the very beginning embracing the youth from other states was a steadfast concern.
From October 2019 to February 2020, experiments for implementing remote programs, linking the Academy with the Armenian Virtual College (AVC) in Yerevan through Skype. These successful experiments were followed by similar remote programs with other U.S. states. Following the Covid-19 pandemic, Siamanto Academy transitioned to Zoom for its remote programs.
Notwithstanding the challenges of the pandemic, the resumption of classes in 2020-2021 was a moment of special success for Siamanto, with the enrollment of more than 60 students from several states. By the 2021-2022 school year, however, their number took a hit as students had grown weary of almost nonstop distance learning five days a week, so some of them were reluctant to sit again before their computers for more distance learning.
First day of school 2022-2023
On Saturday, Sept. 10, 19 students joined from their computers for the first class of the Siamanto Academy over Zoom. His Eminence Archbishop Anoushavan, Prelate, who presides ANEC, delivered an opening prayer and blessed the class.
Our students welcomed Maggie Nalbandian, of ANEC, as well as principals Mayda Melkonian, of St. Stephen’s Saturday School; Lala Demirjian, of Mourad School, who briefly joined the Siamanto session. Also in attendance were Arpine Tavakalian, of AVC, as well as educator Ani Degirmendjian, who do not spare efforts to support the Siamanto Academy. Participating teachers included Lena Nazarian, Talin Giragossian, Sossi Mishoyan and Artur Atayan.
A strong Armenia calls for a strong Diaspora, with the Siamanto Academy playing a vital role in that relationship. The Academy needs the community’s support to educate our youth in the values, language and culture that the Armenian identity is built upon.