70th Anniversary Celebration of Karen Jeppe College

On the afternoon of Sunday, October 29, 2017 the 70th anniversary of Karen Jeppe College of Aleppo and the 40th anniversary of the Karen Jeppe College Alumni Association Los Angeles Chapter were celebrated with a special event held under the auspices of H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate, at the Armenian Society of Los Angeles in Glendale.

The Prelate attended and delivered his congratulatory message and blessings. He was accompanied by Very Rev. Fr. Torkom Donoyan, Vicar General, and Rev. Fr. Ghevont Kirazian. ARF Central Committee Chair Mr. Daron Der Khatchadourian, representatives of community organizations, alumni and friends were in attendance.

On behalf of the Alumni Association, Mr. Kevork Kortoshian delivered welcoming remarks, after which Mr. Kevork Bedikian, the evening’s MC, touched on the College’s role and mission and invited the Prelate to deliver his message.

His Eminence joyfully greeted the guests on the historic and milestone anniversary, stating that there was more than one reason to celebrate. First, today is an opportunity to pay tribute to the generation that set the foundation for this historic educational institution, noted the Prelate. “The establishment of Karen Jeppe College is in essence a testament to the allegiance of our people toward our religious and national treasures and heritage. Archbishop Zareh, the Prelate of Aleppo and later Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia, with the collaboration of Hratch Papazian and a group of like-minded individuals, founded this institution and had the beautiful thought to dedicate it in the name of missionary Karen Jeppe as a token of gratitude for her loving and compassionate service. There is no doubt that if they were here today, they would be so proud to see the seeds they planted yield such abundant harvest, and no doubt they are with us in spirit and will always be,” he said.

The Prelate noted that an additional cause for celebration is the news from Aleppo that the Armenian community is slowly but surely on the path to rebuilding. “In the past few years, Karen Jeppe College, along with other national institutions, became an unwitting symbol of the Armenian community. It too sustained damages, but at the first sign of peace, it rose from the rubble and today has already opened a new chapter in its sacred mission, and the start of the new school year has brought new life and light,” stated His Eminence. “You, the alumni, have an important role in the rebirth and restoration of the College. In the critical years, you spared no effort in providing aid and making sure that it would not permanently close its doors, and we are confident that you will continue to lend your support until it shines again as the beacon of the community,” he said.

Finally, the Prelate noted that there was yet another cause for celebration as a worthy alumnus of Karen Jeppe College would be honored for his dedicated decades-long service to the field of education, starting as a teacher and principal at the College until the present day as Vice-Principal of Ferrahian High School. “We are so pleased to announce that in response to a request by us and the Executive Council, His Holiness Catholicos Aram I has awarded Mr. Vartkes Nalbandian the ‘St. Mesrob Mashdots’ medal,” stated His Eminence, and invited the honoree to the podium.

Fr. Torkom read the Pontifical Encyclical, in which His Holiness lauded Mr. Nalbandian’s devoted service and contributions to the field of education as well as to our cultural and community life, from Aleppo to Los Angeles. Afterward, the Prelate pinned the medal on the honoree’s lapel and presented the Encyclical to him. Mr. Nalbandian expressed his thanks to His Holiness and the Prelate, and spoke briefly on the College’s role and contributions.

The keynote speaker was notable scholar, educator, and Karen Jeppe College alumnus Mr. Hagop Balian, who had traveled from France for the event. Mr. Balian emphasized the College’s significant role in producing generations of patriotic Armenians, spoke of the importance of planning for the future taking into consideration today’s realities, and highlighted the need for repatriation to maintain our homeland and nation.

The program also featured a cultural portion of instrumental performances, songs, and recitations. A video was shown chronicling the College’s history, the damage it sustained during the war, and recent resurgence. On behalf of the Alumni Association, remarks were delivered by Mrs. Dzovinar Melkonian. On this occasion, the Alumni Association honored two of the College’s first alumni, Mrs. Yerani Chaghatsbanian-Garabedian and Mr. Hrair Avedian, presenting mementos to them.

The closing message and prayer was delivered by Fr. Ghevont, who in light of Armenian Culture Month spoke on the College’s valuable role in engraining our culture in our younger generations. The program closed with “Cilicia” and was followed by a reception.

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