The opening ceremony was headed by Ara Vardanyan, executive director of the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund, with the participation of the benefactors, over 20 guests from Argentina, and representatives of the fund. The event was also attended by Aragatsotn governor Gabriel Gyozalyan, as well as many other elected officials and guests.
The festivities began at the 121-year-old St. Hovhannes Church with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, during which Hrach Surenian, who is a deacon, joined the clergy in performing the Mass. The jubiliant day was also marked by the baptism of 17 children from the community, as initiated and sponsored by the visiting benefactors.
The church service was followed by the school’s opening ceremony, as the guests and hundreds of community members gathered in the schoolyard.
In his welcome speech, Ara Vardanyan said, “Every country has its own distinct resource, one that can ensure its development and growth. In Armenia’s case, that resource is knowledge, which is shaped and strengthened through the republic’s educational institutions. It’s here that Armenia’s future, which we all dream of, is being forged. I wish that you, the students of this wonderful school, will receive an excellent education and one day invest your knowledge in the advancement of your homeland.”
Also delivering remarks was Mayor Derenik Shahbazyan, who conveyed his community’s gratitude to the benefactors and the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund and presented Mr. and Mrs. Surenian with a Certificate of Honorary Citizenship of Melik. In turn, Hrach Surenian thanked the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund as well as Mr. and Mrs. Arto and Hilda Kalciyan of Argentina, whose support of major development initiatives in the homeland, he said, has inspired him and his wife to sponsor the renovation of the Melik high school.
The event was concluded with spirited song and dance performances as well as recitations by students.
The renovation project has transformed the school, which was built in 1994, into a beautiful, thoroughly modern campus, featuring a new roof; new doors, windows, and restrooms; new flooring throughout; and a new electrical system. The exterior of the school has also been given a complete makeover: the walls have been repainted, and the entrance and schoolyard have been redesigned and renovated. In addition, the campus now has a brand-new boiler house and heating system — both of which are vitally important amenities, considering Melik’s severe winters.
Currently the school has 153 students. Artur Ghevondyan, the principal, noted that every year, between eight and ten graduates continue their studies at various colleges and universities.
Founded in the 17th century, Melik has a population of close to 1,300. The village is located some 20 kilometers from Aparan, at an altitude of 2,100 meters, and has an alpine climate typical of the region.