Fresno School to Hold 25th Annual Banquet
Posted 17 February 2002 - 06:53 AM
FRESNO—The Armenian Community School of Fresno will hold its 25th Annual Banquet on Saturday, February 23 at the Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church Social Hall.
The festivities start at 6 p.m. with full (hors d'oeuvres) "mezza" and continue at 7 p.m. with a barbecue steak or chicken dinner. The rest of the evening promises to be fast paced with raffles, door prizes, silent auctions, music provided by DJ Ara and dancing. In addition, the Armenian School students will perform a few songs in Armenian.
The master of ceremonies for the evening is MaryAlice Kaloostian, District Director for State Senator Chuck Poochigian. MaryAlice has great wit and is a top notch M.C. The surprise of the evening is who will be the guest of honor this year. You'll have to come to the banquet to find out.
This year is especially exciting because the school has relocated to a new site, the former St. Theresa School at 1444 N. Wilson. The new school site is a modern facility with large classrooms and a large play-area.
The teachers and students are really enthusiastic about the new location. Principal Seth Atamian said that the move was the best thing that has happened to the school. "Now we have a top-notch facility to go along with our top-notch education," he said.
Tickets for the banquet are $30 for adults and $20 for children 12 and under and for all Armenian Community School students and alumni.
Tickets for the event can be purchased by calling the Armenian Community School of Fresno at (559) 233-1800 during the hours of 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The deadline for ticket purchase is Thursday, February 21st. For further information you can call Bryan Bedrosian at (559) 269-6089.
Posted 27 February 2023 - 09:08 AM
Over the years in this space, I have, occasionally, written about people who have touched my life in immeasurable ways – my mother, the grandkids, even foreigners met along life’s wondrous journey. This is another one of those columns.
It’s a rarity for my land-line to ring, but something prompted me that morning to answer what I hoped was not a robocall or scammer. Pleasantly surprised, a husky voice on the other end said, “Hello, is that you, Armen? This is Seth Atamian, your sixth-grade teacher from Winchell Elementary. Do you remember me?” (Let me just say here that my interior voice wanted to scream “Do I remember you? How could I forget you? I idolized you – are you kidding me?”). But before I could get a word in edgewise, he continued. “Can you believe I’m 90 years old?”
Dumbfounded but overcome with delight, I replied, “Well hello, Mr. A. Yes, this is Armen, of course I remember you, and can you believe your sixth-grade student is 70 years old?”
And just like that, an unstoppable series of stories and memories erupted, mini-explosions of Kodak moments, time blurring as we reminisced about his inaugural teaching days and the kind of recollections that stick when you’re a sixth grader: long bouts at the library researching Leonardo da Vinci for an arduous term paper assignment, spontaneous desk checks making sure books and supplies were neatly organized, trying out for his after school tumbling team and winning a spot despite obvious lack of coordination. His charismatic tendencies had landed us on “The Webster Webfoot Show: and for a few, brief moments, a bunch of southeast Fresno kids felt like Olympian superstars.
During our phone chat he told me about the oversized print of our gymnastics team hanging in his home office. A few weeks later, a framed 8 x 10 print arrived at my front door. Still the same thoughtful man, give or take a few decades, he exuded encouragement, deep pride for his students, never once realizing he had been the game changer and lifesaver for many of us.
Years ago, he had taken notice of the chubby little Armenian girl, uncomfortable in her own skin. As we conversed now, I returned to that precise moment nearly 60 years ago, a day he had pulled me aside — suggesting I read William Saroyan’s “My Name is Aram,” promising I would love the Pulitzer Prize-winning author’s storytelling magic, and maybe even see myself in one of his Armenian-bred characters. Saroyan quickly became my literary hero, evidenced today by a library bursting with his books and writings. Little did this giant of a teacher know that his self-conscious sixth grader would someday author her own book titled, “My Name is Armen,” inspired by two bigger-than-life humans: William Saroyan and Seth Atamian.
Great teachers influence their students’ lives — forever.
Seth Atamian grew up in rural poverty during the Depression, but was raised with the values of education and a strong work ethic. A proud graduate of Fresno State, he earned his degree in education, including a master’s in elementary school administration. His career spanned six decades, where he taught sixth grade at Columbia School in west Fresno (1954-58) and Winchell Elementary (1959-64). In 1965, he was promoted to vice principal at Winchell, and in 1967, became the first principal of Armenian descent in the Fresno Unified School District at Lowell Elementary (1967-71). He spent the next two decades as principal at Daily Elementary (1971-77), Wolters Elementary (1977-87), and Homan Elementary (1987-91). After retiring from Fresno Unified in 1996, Atamian was asked to serve as principal for the Armenian Community School of Fresno (now Charlie Keyan Armenian Community School) during a struggling period of limited budget. The six-month assignment turned into six years, and in the process, he revitalized the school and delivered a thriving student body.
There is a moment when one instinctively understands the importance and immediacy of now. Playwright and Hamilton star Lin-Manuel Miranda said it best: “Tell ‘em you love ‘em while they’re here.”
Our phone reunion had sparked the deep connection and sense of gratitude, and was also a reminder of how a single teacher can leave a permanent imprint on one’s life. It was also a nudge to take an action step. So that’s what a small group of us did one afternoon last October, arranging a day to show up, instant replay the past, all the while telling this man what a powerful and profound influence his teachings had played in shaping our futures, sculpting our lives.
A few weeks ago, I received the dreaded call saying my favorite sixth grade teacher had completed his earthly assignments. At his memorial service, he was heralded by many as an exemplary educator, friend, husband, father and grandfather. In everyone’s eyes, he had earned an A+.
What makes a great teacher? Passion for teaching. Love of kids. Patience. Drive. Warmth. Enthusiasm. Caring. Skilled leadership. The ability to create a sense of community and belonging in the classroom. High expectations for all students. A true belief that all children can learn.
Seth Atamian possessed all of these attributes and more. His passing set in motion a communication exchange between Winchell classmates and old friends — one by one each of us sharing how he had pulled us aside at one time or another, insisting we dream big, make our parents proud, and set the world on fire.
Armen Bacon is the author of three books: “Griefland – An Intimate Portrait of Love, Loss, and Unlikely Friendship,” and “My Name is Armen” (Volumes I & II). She and co-author Nancy Miller are currently writing a “Griefland” sequel titled “Daring to Breathe.” Contacts: email@example.com or @ArmenBacon
Edited by Yervant1, 27 February 2023 - 09:10 AM.
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