More than four decades ago, a group of like-minded Armenians came together and decided that in this new country, far from their homeland, they would set out to preserve their language, culture and heritage, ensuring that future generations could maintain their complete identity. Today, their legacy lives on. As we celebrate ARS Armenian Private School’s 40th Anniversary, we give thanks to their foresight and continue in our mission to ensure that every Armenian child who wants an Armenian education, can have one.
Every year, ARS Armenian Private School’s Annual Giving Campaign culminates in two Telethon broadcasts on Nor Hai Horizon, which aired on February 23rd and March 2nd. This major fundraising initiative leads to the betterment of our school and especially our students.
Below is an interview with Taline Moushian and Talyn Terzian-Gilmour, co-chairs of Telethon 2019.
TorontoHye: How many Telethons have been conducted so far and how many have you been involved in?
Taline Moushian: This is the 12th Annual Telethon. Fundraising has been a mainstay of our school from its inception. Fundraising is necessary in order for our school to maintain its mission of ensuring that every Armenian child, regardless of economic background, can have access to an Armenian education. As such, it is through fundraising that we can close the gap between what we charge and the actual cost of attending this school. Funds raised from the Telethon are also what allow the school to expand its offerings and keep pace with changes in education, technology, and other important modernizations. In the past, the big fundraising event often involved an annual banquet. This was replaced with an annual telethon starting 12 years ago. I’ve been on the Telethon Committee for 8 years, co-chaired with Talyn for the past 3, while also being a volunteer member of the school’s Board of Trustees.
The Telethon serves an important purpose beyond just fundraising, however. It allows the entire Armenian community of Southern Ontario to witness daily school life. The Telethon television shows allow us to widely broadcast and proudly publicize the successes and achievements of ARS Roubina Nursery, Babayan Kindergarten, Kololian Elementary and Lapoyan High School. And for this, we are thankful to the Nor Hai Horizon production team who film the content, do all the editing and create the two Telethon broadcasts.
Talyn Terzian-Gilmour: I started volunteering on the fundraising committee a year after Taline. This is my 7th year involved with the Telethon and my third as co-Chair. I have most enjoyed being a part of the Telethon committee, and especially the more public relations and creative side of the work – it’s like I found my home here. Past and present committee members are dedicated, smart, creative, and most of all, full of passion when it comes to ensuring that our newer generations maintain their culture while becoming the leaders of tomorrow – and we’ve had lots of laughs along the way too.
Personally, I couldn’t think of a more appropriate way to give back to ARS Armenian Private School, which has been so significant for me. It is thanks to this school that I can read and write Armenian, that I know about Hagop Baronian and Silva Gaboudigian, and it’s the reason why I feel so strongly about my Armenian identity. While I was born in Canada, I was raised in Saudi Arabia and only attended the school for 3 years, yet it left an indelible impression and it was where I knew I wanted to send my children to start their early years off on the right Armenian foot. I think it’s fair to say that wherever I go, my heart will always be here.
TorontoHye: What is the key to the success of ARS Armenian Private School’s annual Telethon?
TTG: One of the key reasons why ARS Armenian Private School has grown into a vibrant educational institution is because for 40 years, the Armenian Community Centre and its organizations have been the backbone of our school. It is through the unwavering annual support of ARS Toronto Roubina Chapter, ARS Canada Inc., St. Mary Armenian Apostolic Church, ACC Seniors, Homenetmen Toronto, Hamazkayin Klatsor Chapter, AYF Canada Simon Zavarian Chapter, and also the Babayan Foundation that we are able to achieve good fundraising results.
TM: And of course, we cannot forget the investment proceeds from the ARS Armenian Private School Endowments created by over 40 families, whose investment proceeds are donated to our school every year through the Armenian Endowment Fund.
TTG: Alongside these, we are thankful for our steadfast family of donors: current and past parents, grandparents, alumni, teachers and staff, friends, businesses and even our students who give generously and loyally to our school’s Annual Giving Campaign. Some of these donors have been supporting our school since inception. This helps our school achieve its mission of providing a unique and exceptional education to our students. We have a 40-year legacy of philanthropy which continues today to make our school a better place for generations to come.
TM: The school’s Board of Trustees, together with the Principal, sets specific goals and objectives that are a combination of our most immediate needs and the opportunities which will support our school’s strategic vision. Since ARS Armenian Private School does not receive any government funding and has a very low tuition compared to other private schools, fundraising is absolutely necessary for us to meet our operating costs. In fact, tuition is more than 4 times less than other private schools. In line with the school’s founding mission, the tuition is purposely kept low to make the school affordable to as many Armenian children who seek an education that includes the Armenian language.
TorontoHye: What’s the target for this year’s fundraiser and what are your expectations compared to the previous years?
TM: The goal for this year’s fundraiser is $400,000 – that’s $100,000 for every decade. This amount is in line with our expectations from previous years. Typically, the amount raised reflects approximately 10% of our annual budget which is influenced by our strategic plan and of course, the cost of running a school in today’s market.
The funds raised also support newer and enriching initiatives as the school continues to broaden and deepen its offerings such as the expanded use of technology and providing new teaching resources.
TTG: Every single dollar raised through our fundraising efforts goes to the school. From providing student bursaries to buying textbooks to teacher salaries to maintaining our science & computer labs, the funds raised are all used to cover our costs and to ensure our growth so that A.R.S. Armenian Private School remains a unique place for our children to learn and maintain their Armenian identity and succeed in the world at large.
Outside of the Telethon, a couple of years ago we were extremely fortunate to receive a $1 million donation from Varoujan and Silva Lapoyan. These funds are directed entirely to the future expansion of our upper school located within the Armenian Youth Centre, the plans of which are currently in progress.
TM: Perhaps our biggest challenge is to find new donors outside of our community who share our vision. But we’re up for the task and we will continue to try to find new and creative ways to meet our fundraising targets.
TorontoHye: How are donors recognized for their support of the school?
TM: During the two Telethon broadcasts, there is a rolling banner that identifies all donors. As well, the complete list of donors, grouped by donation amount, will be published in TorontoHye’s June issue. This full-page donor acknowledgement article will also include the names of families who have established ARS Armenian Private School endowments through the Armenian Endowment Fund.
TTG: Our corporate sponsors also receive additional recognition benefits including advertising and promotion opportunities. We’d like to remind our community that this year, in celebration of the school’s 40th Anniversary, donors who give $1000 or more will have their donations recognized in a unique, commemorative work of art which will hang in our school hallway.
TorontoHye: Can you talk about different fundraising events that you organize during a given year? And ways you engage the community?
TM: In addition to the Telethon Committee, our school has had a very active Parents Committee throughout its history. We are therefore very fortunate to have the help and assistance of an exceptionally dedicated Parents Committee who take on a lion’s share of fundraising efforts. From special events, to hot lunches, to the annual Mitchink ladies dinner party, the volunteer efforts of the Parents Committee are tremendous.
TTG: I’d like to say that perhaps the greatest effort both Taline and I have made in the past few years is to engage the community by opening our doors, if you will. It wasn’t until we each joined the school’s Telethon Committee that we realized the importance of fundraising to the school. Like most, we figured that our annual tuition would be more than adequate to cover the cost of our children’s educations. That was when we realized the need to further educate the community on the importance of donations, but also on the impact of those donation dollars by doing a better job of communicating the school’s needs as well as our successes and achievements.
TorontoHye: Any final thoughts?
TTG: You know, reaching 40 is no small accomplishment. For human beings, at 40 we’re typically a little bit more established, maybe with a family of our own or a career that we can be proud of. It is a time when we generally can appreciate a little bit more stability. But for our school, we’re still at the beginning. We’re still like a teenager: young, vibrant, full of ideas and ready to take on risks and challenges to ensure that our prospects remain strong and bright for our future. We will continue to prove ourselves to both our own community and to the world at large. It is my hope that by the time my own children reach their forties, an education at A.R.S. Armenian Private School will be synonymous with that of the most recognized and prestigious private schools in Ontario.
TM: Most of my thoughts these days are on reaching this year’s ambitious fundraising target of $400,000! So as a final word, I’d like your readers to consider making a donation to the school this year if they haven’t had a chance already. Receiving an Armenian education in the Diaspora is a rare gift. Together, we can keep the only Armenian day school in Ontario strong and vibrant for generations to come. Please go to www.arsarmenianschool.ca or call the school office at 416-491-2210 (ext. 3016) and donate today.