Diocesan Khrimian Lyceum expands

Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern)
630 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10016
Contact: Jake Goshert, Coordinator of Information Services
Tel: (212) 686-0710 Ext. 60; Fax: (212) 779-3558
E-mail: [email protected]

May 24, 2004


In parishes throughout the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America
(Eastern), youngsters learn the Armenian language through weekly
courses. But when they finish those courses, usually at around the age
of 12, many youngsters were left without a structured Armenian language
and cultural education.

For decades, teens in the New York metro area have been able to attend
the Khrimian Lyceum, a once-a-month program designed to educate and
prepare future Armenian-American community leaders with strong
character, deep commitment, and a sense of responsibility and knowledge
of their shared cultural history.

“The object of the program is to prepare young Armenians to be
knowledgeable leaders, teachers, and administrators for our churches and
community groups,” said Sylva der Stepanian, coordinator of Armenian
education at the Eastern Diocese, who oversees the Khrimian Lyceum

This year, the Khrimian Lyceum program spread to the Midwest and New
England. The Midwest Khrimian Lyceum Midwest opened on September 27,
2003, at the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) Center in Chicago,
under the direction of Zabel Panosyan. Speakers at the monthly classes
have included Prof. James Jacobson on leadership, Dr. Kevork Bardakjian
on Armenian literature, Vehanoush Tekian on creative writing, Krikor
Mirijanian on architecture, and Dr. Hripsime Harutiunian on Armenian
wedding traditions.

The dozen Khrimian Lyceum students in the Chicagoland area also get
involved in the community in hands-on ways. They helped celebrate
Armenian Christmas Eve services at the St. James Church of Evanston, IL,
by reading from the Holy Scriptures, singing the badarak, and acting as
ushers. The students have also traveled, attending “Light of Light,” a
one-day symposium in Greenfield, WI, organized by the Diocese and the
local parish.

Along with academic courses, Khrimian Lyceum students work on a number
of extra curricular activities. In Chicago, for example, Seta
Kantarjian, director of the Shushi Dance Ensemble, has led a dance
workshop, and the students have studied drama with Vartan Oganisyan,
artistic director of the Khrimian Lyceum in New York.


This was the Khrimian Lyceum’s first year expanding beyond New York
City. The original Khrimian Lyceum program has six grade levels, with
65 students total. In each of the two new areas, there is one class of
12 this year, with plans to add one new class each year until they reach
the full six grades.

“It is good for our children to know their heritage, know where they
come from, and to know they come from an ancient civilization,” said
Shakeh Johnson, who heads the program in the New England area. “Not
only that, but they also need to know that when it was an ancient
civilization, we had writers and poets and people who made contributions
to society. Knowing that, they can learn that they can survive no
matter what.”

The Khrimian Lyceum in New England is housed at the St. James Church of
Watertown, MA. Through similar programs and lectures, the students have
grown academically, as well as emotionally.

“I see the results already. Parents say they can’t believe how happy
they are that they forced their kids to go to the Khrimian Lyceum,”
Johnson said. “They say that now they don’t have to force their
children to go, because they want to go, and they’re ready to learn, and
they’re sharing what they learn at home. I can already tell that we
will see these children’s names as leaders of the community in the

Each of the new Khrimian Lyceums have students waiting to join next year
and are eager to expand their programs. For information on any of the
three Khrimian Lyceum programs, contact Sylva der Stepanian, coordinator
of Armenian education, by e-mailing [email protected] or
calling (212) 686-0710 ext. 48.

— 5/24/04

E-mail photos available on request. Photos also viewable on the Eastern
Diocese’s website,

PHOTO CAPTION (1): Vartan Oganisyan leads a drama workshop for students
in the Chicagoland Khrimian Lyceum.

PHOTO CAPTION (2): Students from the Midwest Khrimian Lyceum
participate in the 2004 Christmas Eve services at the St. James Church
of Evanston, IL.

PHOTO CAPTION (3): Vehanoush Tekian teaches a writing workshop to
students in the new Midwest Khrimian Lyceum, which was started this year
along with a similar program in New England.

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