By Joyce Abdulian

SHERMAN, CA – The scene at the Wilshire Country Club on May 7, 2017, was joyous as friends of the C. & E. Merdinian Armenian Evangelical School gathered together to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the school’s founding.

The evening opened with an invocation by Rev. Dr. Vartkes Kassouni, former minister of the United Armenian Congregational Church and one of the pioneers of Merdinian School. Mrs. Lina Arslanian, Principal, expressed her appreciation to members of the Banquet Committee and shared her thoughts about how the school prepares students for life, giving examples of their academic achievements, such as participation in the Johns Hopkins talent search, and awards won at the Science Fair.

Dee Chorlian and Diana Mangioglu Nazarian served as Banquet Committee Co-chairs. Diana Mangioglu Nazarian, along with MC Tamar Yeghishian, described their impressions as school parents. Both Nazarian and Yeghishian inspired the crowd with their heartfelt acknowledgement of the outstanding Armenian, Christian-based education provided by Merdinian School. They praised the principal, Mrs. Lina Arslanian, and teachers for their unique professionalism and devotion.

Dr. Nazareth Darakjian, President of the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA) delivered greetings from the AMAA. Merdinian School is under the auspices of the AMAA.

After a delicious dinner, Mrs. Juliette Abdulian, Vice Chair of the Merdinian School Board of Directors, introduced the honorees— Mr. Harold and Mrs. Frances DeMirjian. Dr. Vahe Nalbandian, Chairman, presented Harold and Frances with the “Lifetime Achievement Award” for decades of devoted service to the school. The Honorable Adrin Nazarian presented the honorees with a resolution from the California State Assembly. The DeMirjians poignantly expressed their gratitude for being honored— claiming it a privilege. Sharing their honor were daughter Debbie DeMirjian, son Steve DeMirjian, and his wife Carol Rainey DeMirjian.

Merdinian School Women’s Auxiliary Co-Chairs, Ani Hanessian and Louisa Janbazian, presented the School with a check for $25,000 in support of the School’s scholarship program. Dr. Vahe Nalbandian announced that Ms. Marie-Louise Meneshian and her brother, Robert Meneshian, had donated $15,000 to establish a scholarship fund in their name and pledged to make annual additions to the fund. The Meneshians offered to match any donations to the school for its scholarship programs.
Keynote speaker, the Honorable Adrin Nazarian, shared how he and his wife, Diana, are grateful to have their two sons, studying at Merdinian— immersed in the legacy of our Armenian heritage, along with an acclaimed education. He believes Merdinian empowers the students to achieve personal and academic growth in a warm, family environment. Mr. Nazarian presented Merdinian School with a resolution from the California State Assembly.

The musical program was comprised of two segments: Mrs. Mary Balian Saghbazarian, accompanied by her young daughter Lena, sang several songs. Later, Ms. Nektarine Chilyan sang and played the Kanoun, an ancient Middle Eastern musical instrument. Pastor Harut Khachatryan, Youth Pastor of United Armenian Congregational Church, concluded the evening with a benediction.

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