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Principal Ani Capan and the 2016 Kirikian School 7th grade graduating class during the farewell speech.

I am so honored to be able to stand before you today along with my fellow graduating classmates. I consider my classmates true friends, and hope to stay that way forever.

It’s hard to believe that 10 years have gone by that I have walked these halls. Thinking of this makes us wonder why we have come to Kirikian Armenian School in the first place. As little children, we may not have seen the purpose of spending our Saturdays at church, but as we have grown older we have come to understand it. We have come to realize that we have attended Armenian school to learn about and preserve our Armenian language, culture, and identity.  Our teachers have not only taught us Armenian language and song, but they have taught us Armenian spirit.

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Preserving Armenian culture; Garo playing the oud in the St. Thomas Youth Orchestra.

Then, there is also that knowledge that you can’t teach, but you must inspire. I have thought, ‘There are so many ethnicities I could’ve been. Why did God make me Armenian?’ I have tried to answer this question, but never successfully and to satisfaction. What I have come up with, though, is that I am so honored to be an Armenian. There is nothing better that could’ve happened to me. Think about it, we have the coolest names, the best families, and nothing can compete with our history. We have survived all of the curveballs thrown at us, whether it was being forced to fight or renounce our faith, or march into the deserts, and yet we are still here in an Armenian Apostolic Church. The teachers here work tirelessly and give up their Saturdays to come teach and inspire us students.

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Proud of her grandson’s insightful words about the Kirikian Armenian School! Mrs. Ani Capan & Garo Amerkanian.

Of course, I thank my family, like Digin Ani Capan, but to me, all of these teachers are family, so thank you. Yes, I know she is the headmaster of this school, but as my grandmother, I am so proud of her keeping this school alive and making it flourish into the vibrant school it is today. We will forever remember everything about this school from Digin Ani calling us to singing to Digin Mari ringing the bell for the Hayr Mer. There is something special about that gathering for the Hayr Mer. We all have our moments, when we reflect upon our time here, and mine was just yesterday during that Hayr Mer. Knowing it was my last time there as a student, I thought about how this place serves as somewhere to come together as a community and unite as Armenians. So, again, we are so honored to be here graduating and, as the class of 2016, thank the school for everything it has done for us.– Garo Amerkanian

Photos courtesy of H. Giritlian.