Pilibos School Eighth Grade Students Take Part in Memorable Visit to Prelacy with Poet Jacques Hagopian

Throughout the year, students of various grade levels from a number of Prelacy Schools visit the Prelacy to receive the blessings of H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate, and to hear the message of His Eminence, during which they also present beautiful programs celebrating our culture. The visit of Rose and Alex Pilibos School eighth grade students on Friday, March 11, 2016, differed in that the students had the unique and memorable opportunity to become personally acquainted with renowned poet Jacques Hagopian.

The students and teachers first gathered at “St. Dertad and St. Ashkhen” Chapel for a prayer service led by the Prelate, who was joined by Archpriest Fr. Vicken Vassilian and Archpriest Fr. Nareg Pehlivanian. The students then headed to “Dikran and Zarouhie Der Ghazarian” Hall, where poet, scholar, and educator Jacques Hagopian awaited them, who by the request of the teachers and the invitation of the Prelate had come to participate in the gathering.

The program commenced with remarks by Victoria Topalian who on behalf of her peers stated that they are proud to be children of the Armenian nation and feel a sense of obligation to preserve the legacy of our forefathers. MC Armen Tchaglassian subsequently invited his fellow students to present a program of songs and recitations.

For the second portion of the program, teacher Sona Madarian announced that the students would be performing a poem from Jacques Hagopian’s latest book, which had recently been gifted to them by the Prelacy, and expressed joy that the students were given the opportunity not only to receive the Prelate’s blessings ahead of their trip to Washington D.C., but also to meet a prominent poet. The students presented a group recitation of one of the poet’s works, after which the Prelate addressed the students.

To start, His Eminence pointed out how fortunate the students were to have the chance to interact with such a prominent poet whose works they have read. He conveyed his blessings and well wishes to the students for their upcoming Washington trip, and also spoke to them about the Lenten message of self-examination and self-correction and of the Feast of St. Gregory the Illuminator’s descent into the pit which would be commemorated the following day. He then invited Jacques Hagopian to say a few words.

Mr. Hagopian addressed the students with his characteristic youthful energy and enthusiasm, expressing his delight at meeting with youth who had pledged to uphold our mother tongue. After reciting one of his works, the poet continued on, stating that land and language have been the foundation of our endurance. Armenians in Armenia struggle in defense of land, and Armenians in the Diaspora struggle in defense of language, he stressed, because loss of land and language means the loss of our identity. “You are soldiers who must join the fight to preserve our language,” said the poet to the students, adding, “it is important not only to know the language, but to use it consistently,” to which they responded by promising once more that they will remain true to their pledge to speak our mother tongues. Mr. Hagopian concluded by asking for the Lord’s blessings upon the students.

The program closed with the benediction by the Prelate, followed by Cilicia and the Armenian national anthem. The students received illustrated prayer cards portraying our canonized martyrs. In what was truly a moving gesture, students gathered around the poet, bringing tears of joy to the centenarian’s eyes and also to the students and teachers, and together recited the Lord’s Prayer.

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