Khrimian Lyceum @ 30: An Oasis of Armenian Culture

Khrimian Graduate 2017

The Diocese’s Khrimian Lyceum graduation festivities were held on May 20, 2017, at the Diocesan Center in New York. The event, sponsored by the Armenian Studies department, also celebrated the 30th anniversary of the prestigious “immersion program” in the Armenian heritage and culture.

Diocesan Vicar the Very Rev. Fr. Simeon Odabashian conducted the Azkatroshm graduation ceremony in collaboration with Fr. Abraham Malkhasyan, pastor of the Holy Martyrs Church of Bayside, NY.

This year’s graduating class included Shant Gemdzian, Claudine Haigian, Gregory Manuelian, Talar Manuelian, Richard Mouradian, and Stephanie Ani Tarian. Each graduate, accompanied by an adult sponsor, pledged to continue upholding their Armenian Christian heritage, and received a diploma and gifts in the presence of some 90 people.

In remarks congratulating the graduates, Fr. Odabashian invoked the memory of the great Catholicos of All Armenian Mkrtich Khrimian (1820-1907)—the patron of Armenian culture fondly remembered as “Khrimian Hayrig,” who gives the Lyceum its name.

Diocesan Armenian Studies director Gilda Kupelian emphasized the enduring significance of the Lyceum’s educational program. “In addition to linguistic and faith literacy, Khrimian Lyceum offers students cultural identification, public speaking opportunities, exposure to the creative arts in the Armenian tradition, participation in philanthropic endeavors, and service to the church. No wonder one of our guest lecturers characterized Khrimian Lyceum as “a leadership training program for teens.”

Former Lyceum teacher Shakeh Kadehjian, recalled the inception of the program, noted its current branch in Armenia, and offered a wish that the program would enjoy “30 times 30 more years” of success.

Alumna Taleen Babayan spoke on her experience at the Lyceum and its profound influence on her later involvement in the Armenian community.

All speakers expressed their gratitude to the Primate, Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, and especially to Sylva Der Stepanian, the founding director of the Khrimian Lyceum, its major advocate, and a decades-long promoter of Armenian cultural and linguistic studies.

The cultural program in the sanctuary and on the plaza of St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral included church hymns, Gomidas songs conducted by Solange Merdinian, violin music played by graduate Stephanie Tarian, recitations and tributes to Khrimian Hayrig, and traditional Armenian dances choreographed by Nayra Mkrtchyan.

Printed notecards featuring he students’ artwork were on sale, proceeds of which will benefit the FAR-sponsored “Ayo” project for teens in Armenia. The students’ self-published yearbook showcased a retrospective of activities, including a collage of photos spanning 30 years.

Alumni from the past were eager to share their memories of the time they spent in the Khrimian Lyseum. “It had a great impact on my life as an Armenian,” said Melissa Nazar. “Attending Khrimian once a month brought me to my Armenian roots by socializing with my friends, learning about my culture and history, and singing our songs. Khrimian made me to be the Armenian I am today: proud of my heritage and culture.”

Nayad Manukian concurred. “Khrimian was one of my best experiences,” she said; “I wish I could be given a chance to relive those moments.”

Gilda Buchakjian Kupelian leads the staff of the Khrimian Lyceum as director of the Diocese’s Armenian Studies department. This year’s instructors included Vartan Garniki, Ani Essayan, Artemis Khatcherian, Berch Manukian, Anie Manuelian, Solange Merdinian, Florence Avakian, Nayra Mkrtichyan, Anahid Oganesyan, and Lucia Vorperian. The Lyceum is grateful to all of its benefactors and parents, as well as to the Akhtamar Dance Ensemble and Berch Manukian for their contributions.

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