WATERTOWN — On Saturday, November 16, a crowd of more than 400 supporters and friends gathered at the Westin Waltham to celebrate St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School’s (SSAES) 35th Anniversary. The cocktail hour featured light entertainment with pianist Levon Hovsepian, before guests were ushered in the ballroom.
The event was held under the Auspices of Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Prelate of the Eastern Armenian Prelacy. During his opening remarks, Rev. Antranig Baljian, read the letter of congratulation sent by Tanielian who could not attend the event.
The evening’s Mistress of Ceremonies was Lisa Gulesserian, Harvard Preceptor on Armenian Language and Culture, and the keynote speaker was Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and University of California Irvine (UCI) Professor of Engineering, Innovator and Entrepreneur, Dr. Diran Apelian. In his address, Apelian highlighted the importance of being aware and proud of one’s origins and identity as a major predictor of success later in life.
In her remarks, SSAES Principal Houry Boyamian spoke about the heightened importance of an Armenian education for the Diaspora in today’s world, and she renewed her pledge to keep the School affordable to all families seeking a rigorous education steeped in a solid Armenian foundation for their children. Chairman of the School Board, Levon Barsoumian, talked about the School’s newly architected Financial Aid Program and honored Boyamian for her 31 years of service at the head of the School.
Event Chair, Nicole Babikian Hajjar, praised the school as a gift to the community and highlighted the theme of giving back as central to the entire celebration. She mentioned the school’s “35For35 Challenge” initiative, a call to all SSAES alumni to give $35 to the school on its 35th anniversary, reporting that about 200 alumni took the challenge, raising close to $7,000. Babikian Hajjar announced that the anniversary’s fundraising goal of $350,000 to benefit the Financial Aid Program had been reached, and that $3,500 of proceeds would be donated to the Soseh Kindergarten of Qarekah (Karabakh/Artsakh), one of the many Kindergartens funded by the Armenian Relief Society (ARS) in the region. Hajjar thanked the Planning Team, comprised of a large group of current and past parents of the School. In closing, the winner of the Armenia Getaway Raffle, Armen Barooshian, was announced.
Throughout the evening, guests were entertained by the operatic voice of Mister X (Artur Hakobyan) from Los Angeles, who sang a diverse repertoire in different languages.