Merdinian Gala Celebrates Excellence, Philanthropy, and Legacy

Merdinian Gala Celebrates Excellence, Philanthropy, and Legacy

Los Angeles, CA — More than 300 community leaders, alumni, educators, parents, donors and supporters attended the C. & E. Merdinian Armenian Evangelical School's sold out gala on Saturday, February 10, 2024 in celebration of the school's enduring legacy and to honor its excellence in education.The event raised more than $200,000 due to the generous contributions from the community, which will go towards enhancing facilities, elevating teacher salaries, and enriching academic programs. 

Held at the iconic Jonathan Club in Downtown Los Angeles, the event began with a cocktail hour and a silent auction hosted by the Merdinian Parent Support Committee. The official program and presentation of awards was kicked off by the Gala Committee Chairperson and Board Member, Dr. Tzoler Oukayan. 

Then, Mistress of Ceremonies and Board member, Dr. Alexia Kevonian welcomed guests and thanked all those that made the inspiring evening possible. The program started with a moving rendition of the American and Armenian National Anthems by Merdinian teachers Marta Hovhannisyan and Anna Zakaryan. Then, Rev. Hendrik Shanazarian, Minister to the Union of the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America (AEUNA) conducted the invocation for the evening. 

After a brief dinner break, Board Chairperson and alumnus Nerses Aposhian (Class of 2006) took to the stage to reflect on his personal journey at Merdinian. Reminiscing about the formative years he spent at Merdinian, Aposhian extended his gratitude to the educators who not only imparted academic knowledge but also instilled invaluable life lessons both inside and outside the classroom. Fondly recalling his frequent visits to the principal's office and the patriotic and folkloric songs learned at Merdinian, which still resonate with him today, the audience was captivated as he began singing "Kedashen." Aposhian acknowledged the impact of those who came before him, stating, “We are here because we have stood on the shoulders of Giants.”  He thanked visionary founding leaders for their dedication and foresight, emphasizing their crucial role in shaping the Merdinian community. 

(Nerses Aposhian, Board Chairperson)

The program continued with a video presentation highlighting the school's history, achievements, and enduring impact on the community. 

Taking the stage, Principal Dr. Souzy Ohanian detailed the school's impressive accomplishments, highlighting the record-breaking number of students enrolled, with more than a hundred on the waiting list. She emphasized that "this remarkable success serves as a testament to the demand for Armenian and faith-based education within our community and serves as a compelling call to action to consider the initiation of a high school or expansion of Merdinian's offerings to accommodate the growing interest."

In an attempt to vividly paint a picture of Merdinian for the guests, she said that, "Whether it is the joy of our preschoolers playing in the playground, elementary students singing our Armenian songs, the laughter that makes its way to the hallways of the Middle School, or the sportsmanship displayed by our students on the field, the joy of being part of Merdinian is unmatched." Concluding her speech she said "we sincerely thank the Almighty for His unwavering support, grace, and advice. As we strive for excellence rooted in our Armenian heritage and faith, we trust God's providence, acknowledging He is the ultimate source of our strength and inspiration." 

(Dr. Ohanian, Principal of Merdinian)


Siblings Nora Bardakjian and Kevork Bardakjian from the Class of 2005 and 2003, took to the stage to present the Excellence in Teaching Award to Merdinian educator and their mother, Suzy Bardakjian. In their heartfelt remarks, they provided a touching glimpse into Bardakjian's unwavering dedication and passion for teaching at Merdinian. They shared that she always gives a detailed account of every moment at Merdinian when she returns home, highlighting her deep affection for the school and her students. The audience rose to its feet, brimming with admiration and respect, as Bardakjian graciously and emotionally took the stage to express her gratitude to her family and the Merdinian supporters who have played a pivotal role in her journey as an educator.

(Suzy Bardakjian with her family and Dr. Ohanian)


In introducing the Phillips Family, Aposhian detailed the family's enduring support and significant contributions to the school's growth and success, as well as their continuous positive impact on the Armenian evangelical community globally. He expressed gratitude to George Sr. and Suzie for passing along their "philanthropic genes" to their sons, Dr. Albert, Gary, and George Jr., and their respective wives Sue, Arsine, and Dina, who have all remained dedicated to serving Merdinian, the community, and the homeland.

As attendees took their seats after giving the Phillips family a standing ovation, George Jr. Phillips, Vice Chairperson of the Merdinian Board of Directors, stepped forward to convey gratitude for the award on behalf of the family. He candidly acknowledged the family's initial discomfort in accepting the honor, and underscored the significance of service, emphasizing that serving others is not just a choice but a duty—one that he and his family hold dear to their hearts.

(Phillips Family)

Dr. Alexia Kevonian then took the stage to announce the official launch of the new Donor Wall, which will be prominently displayed in the school's Aram & Anahis D. Boolghoorjian Hall. The "Planting of the Seeds" project features a wall tree generously donated by Dr. & Mrs. Vicken & Sossy Aharonian, where supporters can add the leaves to the tree, thereby permanently showcasing their support for Merdinian and their commitment to shaping its future. Kevonian invited guests to contribute to the project by making a donation of $250.

Greg Hosharian and his band entertained guests all night with Armenian songs, leading to a lively atmosphere that had the audience dancing towards the end of the event.

Community members can still donate to C. & E. Merdinian Armenian Evangelical School on the website