Members of the Knights of Vartan with staff and some students from the 106 School

Knights of Vartan’s Nareg-Shavarshan Lodge Renovates KV #106 School in Yerevan

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YEREVAN/DETROIT — The Knights of Vartan Nareg-Shavarshan Lodge in Greater Detroit is continuing to make improvements at the Knight of Vartan #106 School in Yerevan, Armenia. Since 2018, the lodge has raised $61,500 for renovation projects at this school.

The Knights of Vartan, in 1993, initiated the “Adopt A School Project (AASP)” project to financially assist public schools in the Republic of Armenia. During the early years of Armenia’s independence, the new Republic did not have the resources to adequately fund the needs of its public school system.

With inadequate teacher salaries, dilapidated school facilities and a lack of supplies, helping schools in Armenia was a worthwhile endeavor for the organization.

It was at this time the Knights of Vartan made significant improvements to School #106 in Nor Nork, Yerevan. After a few years of cooperation the school was renamed the Knights of Vartan School #10 and Past Grand Commander (PGC) Everett Berberian and PGC Ara Avakian traveled to Armenia on April 5, 1995 to attend the ceremony marking this event.

From left, Principal Marine Vardanyan; Grand Commander Steven R. Adams; Past Grand Commander Dr. Gary Zamanigian

The Knights implemented additional projects in the school through the Armenian Social Investment Fund (ASIF). Some of the major renovations after Armenia’s independence at this time included installing a new central heating system, replacing the roof and many of the windows and doors and what was supposed to be renovation of the gymnasium.

In 2016 the Knights celebrated the centennial of the organization’s founding, with a program in Yerevan. The Grand Commander that year, Steven Kradjian, reestablished a relationship with the Knights of Vartan School #106 Principal, Marine Vardanyan, and invited her to attend the organization’s official event.

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Coincidently, she was a graduate of the same school and her mother was one of the first teachers there. Therefore, her relationship with the school goes much deeper than that of an employee.

Because of her exemplary administrative skills and insight, she has raised the standards of education which have resulted in the doubling of the number of students attending the school. In addition, she formed a club to stage plays and perform recitals and created a singing and dancing group. Even with scarce resources available, she was able to purchase new desks and replace some of the windows and doors, but large amounts of money would be needed to complete the required number of necessary improvements.

The renovated gym

The next project in support of the Knights of Vartan School #106 was initiated by then Grand Commander Dr. Gary Zamanigian while on one of the organization’s “Back to Homeland” Mission Trips in 2017. Appalled by the deplorable condition of the gymnasium, he was inspired and determined to make certain it would be renovated in 2018. He said recently “I couldn’t believe my eyes when I actually saw the condition of the gym; at that moment I felt nothing is going to stop me from acquiring the necessary funds to refurbish the gym”.

During one calendar year $30,000 was raised by Nareg-Shavarshan Lodge members to complete the project. Additionally, $2,600 was donated by the Arshavir Lodge in Worcester to purchase new gym equipment for September 2019. The Paros Foundation was contracted by the Detroit Lodge to implement the project and they did so in a manner far beyond the expectation of all who were able to see the end result.

In September 2019, the Knights of Vartan “Back to the Homeland” group, led by Grand Commander Steven Adams, attended the ribbon cutting ceremony of the renovated gymnasium. The school’s younger children presented a beautiful program with dancing and acrobatics and the play “Vartanank” was preformed by upper grade students.

In the past, Mrs. Vardanyan had created a list of much needed renovations by priority. It included replacing the remaining old windows and doors of classrooms, changing all the outdated electric wires from the 1960s and a total renovation of the auditorium with a gradual incline of the floors for easy viewing.

Nareg-Shavarshan Lodge once again, with PGC Dr. Gary Zamanigian as the initiator, pledged to raise the needed funds for the final renovation. Gomidas Lodge in San Diego, having been informed of the project, has already made a monetary contribution.

In the future additional improvements will be made as needed and they will continue to be implemented by the Paros Foundation.

For more information about the Knights and Daughters of Vartan, visit http://kofv.org.

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