From Siberia to a sunny beach
The newly built school of Ashotsk is a gift from French-ArmeniansArmenuhi Poghosyan’s daily routine has remained basically unchanged for the past 40 years. She gets up early in the morning, enjoys a cup of coffee, then rushes to school. As everyone knows, she’s the first to arrive in campus, where she draws up the day’s plan before welcoming her students.
The veteran teacher is well-known in Ashotsk. There’s hardly any family in the community without members who have studied algebra and geometry with her. The secret of the experienced teacher’s success can well be encapsulated by her philosophy of being attentive toward children and considerate toward teenagers. “Even though much has changed in terms of the psychology of schoolchildren and their priorities in recent years, we’re able to maintain our students’ interest in all subjects of the curriculum,” Ms. Poghosyan says. She adds that the new generation has a great knack for information technologies, and that many among the school’s students have already attained considerable success in robotics and other high-tech spheres.
Armenuhi Poghosyan also talks about the achievements of the school’s alumni, many of whom have gone on to become renowned doctors, company executives, government officials, or athletes. Years after their graduation, Ms. Poghosyan says, they still stand firmly by their alma mater and visit it frequently. Today, however, what these alumni come back to is a wonderful, brand-new campus featuring a full complement of amenities and comforts. “Our alumni absolutely marvel at this modern school, while recalling with a tinge of sadness their old, dilapidated campus, between whose crumbling walls we used to hold classes in sub-zero temperatures,” the teacher says. Fighting back her tears, the proud teacher remembers the dour winters when the old school’s hallways were used as makeshift classrooms, to somewhat protect the kids from the bone-chilling cold. “For us, education is above everything else,” she says.
“The new school changed our lives, leaving the devastation of the earthquake and all the bitter memories behind,” Ms. Poghosyan continues. “Although, in principle, I am retired, I feel this whole new level of energy and motivation; I feel ready to work another 40 years!” She then jokes: “It’s like we’ve moved from Siberia to some warm and glorious Mediterranean beach. You enjoy it so much that you forget to go home.”
The new, state-of-the-art high school of Ashotsk, in Armenia’s Shirak Region, opened its doors in 2014. The construction and furnishing of the campus, which comprises four buildings and a total area of 2,700 square meters, was made possible by the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund’s French affiliate, through the generous financial support of French-Armenian benefactors Arakel and Lydie Gazarian as well as Dirouhie Gazarian Manoukian. Currently with 283 students, the facility is one of the largest educational institutions built in Armenia by the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund.
Located in northwestern Armenia, at an altitude of between 2,006 and 2,039 meters, Ashotsk is marked by its cool summers and severe winters.
“If there’s peace on the border and no mother is stricken by the grief of a child lost to war, everything will turn out well, just like our school,” Ms. Poghosyan concludes as she hurries back to class.
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