SOUTHFIELD, Mich. — Twenty-five Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) Alex and Marie Manoogian School seniors were honored at the commencement ceremony at St. John Armenian Church Cultural Hall on June 1. Judith Kadri, high school head teacher, served as master of ceremonies. Dr. Hosep Torossian, principal of the High School, presided. In his opening remarks he noted that 11 of the 25 graduates had been together since pre-school or early elementary. He also commented on the increasing number of Ukrainian students who have joined our school, mentioning their many positive contributions to the school culture and their determination to excel academically. Torossian paid tribute to all the faculty members who give extra effort to help students enrolled in the English as a Second Language (ESL) program, and he especially acknowledged the work of Lilit Babloumian, the ESL teacher, who takes students from all countries, with no or only a few words of English, and helps them become functioning students in an amazingly short time.
Torossian then introduced the keynote speaker, Oakland County Judge Lisa Asadoorian, acknowledging her many accomplishments and honors and stressing the many ways in which Asadoorian gives back to her community. In her address, which many listeners said was one of the most moving graduation speeches they had ever heard, Asadoorian urged the students to remember the Armenian Genocide and other crimes against humanity and to work for peace, understanding, human rights, and truth.
As the attention turned to the graduates, Mariya Nakonechna, the valedictorian, and Michelle Hami, the salutatorian, addressed the audience in both English and Armenian. During the ceremony, as Kadri read comments from the students about their time in school, the trip to Armenia in 2014 recurred as the highlight of their school years. As a class, the students were offered a million dollars in grants and scholarships. Three graduates: Nikole Davtyan, Mariya Nakonechna and Elleanna Saco, received full, four-year scholarships to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Other students have been accepted to universities throughout Michigan and one will attend Glendale Community College in California.
Throughout the ceremony, the students’ attachment to their alma mater was clear. We know they have gained a great deal through their years here, and we look forward to hearing from them as they go on to build their lives. Good luck to them all!