Second Annual Armenian Schools’ Poetry Competition Awards Ceremony Held at the Prelacy

In May of 2015 the second annual Armenian Schools’ Poetry Competition was held at Vahan and Anoush Chamlian School, in which around forty students each from eight local schools participated. The competition was organized by the Western Prelacy Cultural-Educational Committee, in conjunction with the Board of Regents of Prelacy Schools and a special committee, and was dedicated to the Armenian Genocide Centennial. The awards ceremony was held on the evening of Thursday, June 25, at the Prelacy “Dikran and Zarouhie Der Ghazarian” Hall, under the auspices of and with the presence of H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate.

Welcoming remarks were delivered by Executive Council Vice-Chair Dr. Dikran Babikian, who was the coordinator of the poetry competition. He greeted the guests, among them clergy, ARF Bureau member Dr. Viken Yacoubian, Board of Regents representatives Mrs. Azita Yacoubian, principals, educators, parents and relatives of the winners. Dr. Babikian noted the significance of the event not only in celebrating the literary legacy of our poets and writers but also in preserving our cultural heritage, and thanked Mr. Alec Baghdasarian, Director of Avan Shushi Plaza, for initiating the annual poetry competition in Shushi four years ago. He then invited committee member Mr. Mihran Toumajian to announce the winners.

Mr. Toumajian gave a brief overview of the competition and gladly noted that two additional schools participated in this year’s event. The participating schools were; Mesrobian, Rose and Alex Pilibos, Holy Martyrs Ferrahian and Arshag Dikranian High Schools, Vahan and Anoush Chamlian and Holy Martyrs Mary Cabayan Elementary, Armenian Sisters Academy, and students of Davitian-Mariamian Educational Foundation. Mr. Toumajian thanked Chamlian School for hosting the event in May, and one by one invited the winners on stage to recite their winning piece and claim their prizes.

Prizes were awarded in three categories, High School, Junior High, and Elementary. The jury was comprised of Mrs. Takouhi Arzoumanian, Mrs. Shake Toukhmanian, Mr. Krikor Okarian, Mr. Edik Palayan, and Mr. George Adourian. The first place winners were; Ani Tovmassian (Pilibos School), Ara Yacoubian (Chamlian School), and Eric Chilinkarian (Davitian-Mariamian Foundation). Second place winners were; Takouhi Hmayagian (Mesrobian School), Meghri Shahinian (Chamlian School), and Nareg Kouyoumjian (Ferrahian School).
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Third place winners were; Alek Manougian (Mesrobian School), Araz Balian (Ferrahian School), Narin Arisian (Mary Cabayan School), Daron Der Sahagian (Armenian Sisters Academy), and Alice Khatchigian (Mesrobian School). Given that the ceremony took place during summer break, some students were unable to attend.

The students received certificates and a map prepared by Mr. Palayan depicting regions where the Armenian Genocide was carried out. Mr. Okarian, a renowned actor in Armenia, recited a piece of poetry and encouraged the students to continue their participation in this event.

Mr. Alec Baghdasarian presented a slide-show of last year’s competition in Shushi. He stated that the idea for the competition came about from the fact that Shushi was in the past an important center of Armenian culture and such events aim to re-establish its position as a cultural hub. In conclusion, Mr. Baghdasarian thanked the Western Prelacy, participating schools, jury members, and committee members Ms. Nane Avagyan and Mr. Mihran Toumajian, who worked together with Dr. Babikian to make the event a successful one.

The Prelate delivered the evening’s closing message. His Eminence commended all those who had a hand in the planning and organizing of the competition, thanked the young students for offering the audience their soulful recitations, and congratulated the parents for encouraging their children’s talents. He presented the youth with mementos portraying “faith, hope, and love,” urging them to cultivate their talents based on the virtues of faith, hope, and love, and enrich their surroundings. The Prelate noted that the event is a beautiful representation of the proverb, “Train up a child in the way he should go…,” for when a child is set on the right path, he will surely blossom with the Lord’s grace. Thus, it is important to encourage and build up the younger generations, said His Eminence. Noting that this year’s competition coincided with the Genocide Centennial, the Prelate thanked the Lord for the rebirth and revival of the Armenian people. In conclusion, he conveyed his well wishes to the students who will be participating in the poetry competition in Shushi in August and encouraged them to really explore and take in our homeland.

The program came to a close with the benediction and the collective singing of the Armenian national anthem. A reception followed.

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