“They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.”
In commemoration of the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide, the 2015 Sunday School Graduating Class dedicated their Graduation Ceremony on Sunday, May 31, in memory of the Martyrs and Saints of 1915. It was a day of joyous celebration and tremendous pride in the life of our parish as we witnessed six Grade 12 students, having successfully completed the required course of Christian Education as set forth by the Department of Youth and Education at the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), graduate from the Sunday School in an impressive ceremony in church at the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy.
This year’s graduates were Andrew and Mark Gregory, sons of Dr. Michael and Karen Gregory of Brookline; Naneh Petrosyan, daughter of Mikhail Petrosyan and Naira Balagyozian of Watertown; Michelle Sahagian, daughter of Richard and Nancy Sahagian of Burlington, Olivia Thayer, daughter of Harvey and Valerie Kolligian Thayer of Concord, and Emily Zeytoonjian, daughter of Richard and Michelle Zeytoonjian of Wellesley.
Also participating in the Graduation Ceremony were Grade 10/11 students Rachel Arnold, Lily Arslanian, Gregory Arustamyan, Nicole Azarian, Adelaida Balagyozyan, Carolyn Coste, Vahan Der-Kazaryan, Alex DerVartanian, Alexandra Hintlian, Brian Jakob and Aram Soultanian.
A Journey in Discovery
The Graduation Ceremony, which was presided over by our pastor, Fr. Vasken A. Kouzouian, began with opening remarks by Seta A. Buchter, Sunday School Superintendent. Seta stated, “We have watched our graduates, over the years, grow and develop into the wonderful young adults they are today. For each of them, their years attending Sunday School has been a journey in discovering who they are as Armenian Christians. During this journey, it has been extremely gratifying to witness our graduates’ strengthening of their faith, their greater appreciation and understanding of their religion, culture and heritage, and their growing dedication and commitment to the Armenian Church, especially Holy Trinity Armenian Church.”
Seta spoke about the graduates’ service year and their commitment and dedication to serving the church by assisting in the primary grade classrooms and singing in the Choir this past year. Seta congratulated the graduates as well as their parents and families thanking them for their commitment, encouragement and support throughout the years especially as they taught their children by example which is the best teacher of all.
Awards and Appreciation
The “Bagdasar and Elmas Garabedian Award,” which recognizes two graduating students of the Holy Trinity Sunday School who have maintained an exemplary record throughout their years as a student of the Sunday School, was awarded to Olivia Thayer and Emily Zeytoonjian.
The “Arsha Sarkisian Award,” which is presented to the “Outstanding Student of the Year,” was awarded to Andrew and Mark Gregory as both have been outstanding in their commitment during their service year showing responsibility, dependability and accountability.
The Order of Graduates was then presented to Der Vasken.
Each graduate received his/her Sunday School diploma from Der Vasken and a gift of the book, “Armenia: A Journey through History,” by Arra Avakian.
Each graduate then shared with the congregation “What Sunday School and/or Church Means to Me.” On behalf of the Graduating Class, Emily shared their Statement of Commitment: “We would like to take this opportunity to thank Der Hayr, Yn. Arpi, Seta, our Sunday School teachers, and the entire church community for your support and guidance throughout our Sunday School years. The church has been a home to us and we are now ready and prepared to carry on the legacy of those that have gone before us. We will take on various roles in the church and continue to live out the lessons we have learned. We will move from being students to teachers and we will take our leadership roles seriously. On the occasion of the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide, we dedicate our Graduation in memory of the Martyrs and Saints of 1915.”
Olivia presented the class’ gift to the church which was a beautiful rosewood plaque inscribed with the words “They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.” Engraved was the Genocide Centennial logo, the dates 1915-2015, “Legacy of our Martyrs” and “In Memory of our Martyrs and Saints of 1915.” The plaque will hang prominently in the Peter Adamian Hall.
Michelle offered the Bible reading of the day from the Book of Proverbs, chapter 1, verses 1-5 “. . . to receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity . . . ,” while Naneh read the Gospel reading from John, chapter 20, verses 19-23.
The Ceremony concluded with the Graduating Class, in a symbolic gesture, passing a lit candle to the students of Grade 10/11 with the words, “With this candle, the 2015 Sunday School Graduating Class of Holy Trinity Armenian Church, passes on to you this symbol of our faith with our Hope and Love.” The candle, which also represents the passing of leadership from the outgoing Graduating class to the incoming one, was passed from Andrew to Nicole Azarian. Mark then explained what this ‘candle’ meant to him and his classmates:
Sending New Apostles Into the World
In offering the closing remarks, Der Vasken congratulated the graduates for their commitment to learning about their faith since they were young children. He told the graduates that “all of you are called to be Apostles for this day and age. Today, we send out into the world six new ‘Apostles’ for Christ and the Armenian Church. You are called to take your faith in Christ with you in life. You are called to walk with your Lord. And you are called to be Apostles of Christ, of the Armenian Church, of the Armenian People; you are Apostles of this Sunday School and ACYOA, and you are Apostles of Holy Trinity Armenian Church. By being a ‘Modern-day Apostle,’ you can now use your knowledge to begin changing the world by living the Legacy given to us by our Martyred Saints. You are a Modern-day Apostle who carry the blood of Martyrs and Saints. Live your everyday life with this in mind.” Der Vasken concluded by thanking our graduates’ parents and all the teachers who had a hand in helping these young adults reach this milestone in their lives.
Following church services, the graduates, their families and invited guests were honored at a luncheon held in Johnson Hall.