The opening ceremony was led by Ara Vardanyan, executive director of the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund, with the participation of Mr. and Mrs. Nalbandian, as well as representatives of the fund’s Toronto affiliate and other Canadian-Armenian supporters. Dignitaries attending the event included Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan, Vice Minister of Science and Education Karine Harutyunyan, Armavir Governor Ashot Ghahramanyan, and other officials.
“The strength of a country resides in its communities, and the strength of a community resides in its educational institutions,” Ara Vardanyan said in his welcome speech. “Today, with this marvelous school, you have an excellent opportunity to help strengthen our homeland.”
In his remarks, Tigran Gevorgyan, the school’s principal, conveyed his gratitude to Mr. and Mrs. Nalbandian and said, “Thanks to our Canadian-Armenian benefactors, we can transform our community, which is ensconced in the heart of the Araratian Plain, into a center of learning and science.”
Subsequently Mayor Grigor Mkrtchyan presented Mr. and Mrs. Nalbandian with a Certificate of Honorary Citizenship of Nalbandyan.
Also delivering remarks was Houri Najarian, vice chair of the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund’s Toronto affiliate. Najarian noted that the refurbishment of the Nalbandyan high school is of particular significance since it’s the 50th project, as well as the largest ever, to be undertaken by the Toronoto affiliate. As she thanked the benefactors, Najarian said the Nalbandians’ altruism is infectious, and added that it comes as no surprise that their own children are now sponsoring the construction of homes for two large families in Artsakh.
In a surprise announcement that delighted the attendees, Nalbandian family pledged to provide university scholarships for the Nalbandyan high school’s top ten 2017 graduates.
The opening ceremony was made all the more wonderful by a number of exuberant performances featuring the high school’s accomplished dance and song ensembles. Inspired by these performances, members of the Nalbandian family sang along with the students.
The celebrations continued well after the opening ceremony, as the Canadian-Armenian benefactors and other guests shared the joy of the people of Nalbandyan.
The high school, which was built in 1967, comprises three wings, each three stories high, with a total surface area of 3,200 square meters. With the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund refurbishment project, the entire campus has been redesigned, reinforced for earthquake resistance, and provided with new furniture, equipment, and supplies. Other major improvements include the renovation of the exterior spaces surrounding the main entrance, and the construction of a state-of-the-art gym adjacent to the school, complete with locker rooms and restrooms.
Founded in the mid-16th century, Nalbandyan is named after famed author Mikayel Nalbandyan. The community’s 5,400 residents include descendants of refugees from Western Armenia.