Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and current public safety measures, the C. & E. Merdinian Armenian Evangelical School in Sherman Oaks, CA held its graduation ceremonies in the School’s parking lot, on Sunday, June 14, 2020. Beginning at 9:30 am, the School had three separate ceremonies.

At the Kindergarten Graduation, Principal Lina Arslanian pointed out in her remarks that due to the situation created by COVID-19, the School faced an urgent and unprecedented situation. In a matter of a few days, the School administration, and the teaching staff, in cooperation with the parents, managed to switch to distance learning and complete the school year. Following her speech, Mrs. Arslanian invited the Kindergarten graduates and their parents to approach the stage while staying in their cars to receive their diplomas and gifts.

Following the Kindergarten “drive through” graduation ceremony, the Elementary School graduates and their parents entered the School’s parking lot in their cars and parked. Hovhannes Benneian, the student with the highest average grade in the class, read his message in Armenian, and Adriana Arakelian, the student with the second highest average grade, read her message in English. Graduating students were then called to the stage one by one to receive their diplomas and gifts and be photographed in front of a special poster.

Finally, the eighth-grade students entered the School’s parking lot in their parents’ cars and parked near the stage area. Following the social distancing rules, each graduating student got out of their parents’ car and stood in front of the stage.

Julia Ayrapetyan, who had the second highest average grade in class, read her salutatorian message in English. She noted that she had only attended Merdinian this year, yet she was thankful to everyone for how well she was received. She added that she had gained so much knowledge in that short period of time, which will serve as a foundation for her future education, and for countless pleasant moments that will never be forgotten.

Nayiri Karadjian and Alexa Buchakian, who had scored the highest average grade in the class, read their valedictorian messages. Nairi in her Armenian message confirmed that Merdinian was not only a school but also a home that helped her grow and develop, sowing the seeds of success. In her English valedictorian message, Alexa mentioned the words of Winnie the Pooh, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard,” and added that, that something was Merdinian for her. She had spent eleven years in a place where she felt safe and secure. “My days at this wonderful school are unforgettable. Thank you for giving me this opportunity, and I am grateful to my teachers who inspired me and have always been by my side,” she said.

Hovsep Ayvazyan, who scored the third highest average grade in the class, on behalf of his classmates handed Mrs. Arslanian a beautiful framed collage of the graduating class pictures to be displayed next to the previous years’ class photo collage.

The ceremony ended with a prayer offered by Lena Ekmekjian, Head of Merdinian’s Religion Department.

Merdinian has completed an unusual school year and the Class of 2020 will always remember that they are the graduates of an extraordinary year. Congratulations and bon voyage to the graduates!
Established in 1982, the C & E Merdinian Armenian Evangelical School is the only Armenian Evangelical School in the United States. The School offers a broad-based curriculum that fosters academic excellence, high moral values, and spiritual enrichment in the Armenian Evangelical tradition. The School strives to create a safe and nurturing environment where every student receives personal attention to become a successful and responsible individual. For more information, you may contact Principal Arslanian at 818.907.8149.
(Adapted by Louisa Janbazian from an Armenian article)

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