By Dickran Toumajan
SOUTHFIELD, Mich. — On October 10, the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) Alex and Marie Manoogian School celebrated its 40th anniversary with a dinner/dance attended by nearly 500 graduates, community leaders, supporters of the school, former and current school board members, principals, faculty, staff and students.
The school has remained true to its mission — to offer a quality education in a safe, secure and family-oriented environment and to preserve and promote the Armenian heritage through the teaching of language, literature, history, culture, music and dance. In the mid-1990s, under the guidance of former, longtime principal, Dr. Nadya Sarafian, the school experienced a smooth transition from a private to a charter institution.
Dr. Hosep Torossian, the current principal of the Manoogian High School, and several key members of the past and present school board had a vision of seeing the school expanded into a modern two-story facility, equipped with state-of-the-art science laboratories, expansive classrooms and an auditorium. Their goal was realized thanks to the generosity and largesse of Richard Manoogian and Louise Manoogian Simone, who had the foresight to maintain the tradition and continue the legacy established by their parents, Alex and Marie Manoogian. The school has grown from 10 students and two teachers (Keghanoush Keledjian and Yvonne Korkoian, both of whom were in attendance) in 1969 to a student body of over 400 and a faculty and staff of 55. The school has been the beneficiary of two Golden Apple Awards for academic excellence, an honor bestowed by the State of Michigan. A high percentage of Manoogian graduates continue their education in institutions of higher learning and several have distinguished themselves and their alma mater as doctors, lawyers, teachers and businessmen and women.
The festivities began with welcoming remarks by the Master of Ceremonies Richard Dickran Kurjian, a 1979 graduate and now treasurer of the School Board of Directors. He and his wife, Mona (a fellow alum and classmate) have sent their two sons to the school. His parents were among those who emigrated from Istanbul along with many other Armenians in the 1960s, believed in the importance of an Armenian school in the Metropolitan Detroit area and became members of the Cultural Society of Armenians from Istanbul, an organization which has consistently supported the school.