BEIRUT — The 2020-21 school year was made difficult due to the combination of the novel coronavirus and the socioeconomic crisis in Lebanon. All schools in Lebanon, including the Vahan Tekeyan School, had to switch to long-distance learning from home for students to assure the health of both students and staff. The August 4 explosion in the port of Beirut made life even more difficult. However, the school year ends with hopes of starting in the fall with peace in the country and renovated classrooms and improved health conditions.
Graduation ceremonies took place at the Tekeyan School on Saturday, July 3. Diplomas were distributed in the presence of the trustees of the school and their chairman Dr. Hovig Vartanian, the daughters of the recently deceased Armenian Democratic Liberal Party leader Garabed Babahekian — Jenny Babahekian and Sosi Babahekian Kalinjian — Chairman Hagop Kasarjian and board members of the Tekeyan Cultural Association (TCA) Founders Body, teachers, and parents of the graduating students. The ceremony was broadcast live on the school’s Facebook page.
After the performance of the anthems of Lebanon, Armenia and the school, a moment of silence was observed for those connected to the school who passed away due to the coronavirus, including one of the founders of the Vahan Tekeyan Middle School of Beirut, Garabed Babahekian, member of the school board Dr. Vazken Zhamgochian, and longtime teacher Mrs. Siroun Shalvarjian.
Armenology teacher Avedis Diban greeted all present in the name of the staff and spoke about the tribulations of the country and the people, in the midst of which the staff worked to keep the educational mission of the school going primarily via the Internet. He remarked that the school has prepared a rich harvest imbued with Armenian national values who will serve the cause of the preservation of Armenian identity throughout the diaspora. Furthermore, in the development of the Armenian homeland, education and study have fundamental roles to play.
Young students then performed a dance with the young Lidushig of Armenia singing. Students presented roses to their parents, and then speeches of farewell were given by other students. Patil Papazian of the sixth grade gave a speech in English, while Mariam Hazh Ali spoke on behalf of the third grade of the middle school in Armenian.
Principal Galina Shememian Najarian spoke about the humble and faithful family man and Armenian public figure that Garabed Babahekian was as well as his role as former chairman of the TCA Founders Body. For many years he served the school selflessly as a member of its board of trustees. His status as an intellectual leader of the Armenians gave this support added value, and he continues to serve as a worthy example for the new generation of school graduates to follow in service to the Armenian people and homeland, the principal concluded.