ArmeniaNow.com - Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
June 18, 2004




Continued Education: Popular center in Nork offers after-school development


Tigran is 6 and is still too short to work at a sculptor’s desk, so he stands on a chair.

“Now, I’m sculpting a lion” he says. To the question of who shows him how to sculpt he answers: “I’m making it up.”

He always sculpts animals; the first one was a horse. He doesn’t remember how long he’s been attending sculpting classes and how many hours he works per day, but he assures that he doesn’t get tired.

The sculptor

“When I grow up, I’ll be working with stone,” he says. In addition, Tigran also draws, and attends chess class.

There are 49 classes of 11 different areas at Hayordats Tun (House for Children of Armenia) in Nork, an after school program for children that draws some 1,300 students.

The program is sponsored by the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), and for from $12 to $20 a year, children learn applied art, sports, music, languages, as well as computer classes and circus and dancing classes.

In Soviet times, the center that now houses Hayordats Tun was one of several “Pioneer Palaces”, where members of the Communist youth club went for cultural and sports events. With the collapse of the USSR, so too was the demise of the Pioneer program. But in 1993 AGBU and the Armenian Apostolic Church collaborated to open the centers under the auspices of the Church and rename them House for Children.

Director of Nork’s Hayordats Tun, Aida Andreasyan says it was difficult at the beginning, and center organizers questioned whether the center might be used, ultimately, as a church outreach program.

But she says that those concerns have been dispelled and adds that children are not required to attend religious-related programs.

Carpet making is among 11 subjects

“Spiritual education and upbringing assists in forming our national description,” Andreasyan says. “It is not only the Bible. It is our way of living.”

At a puppet theater class, students learn to make puppets, then use them in presenting plays that usually have a Biblical theme.

Classes for decorative applied art last three years; music and dancing classes last five. The center has five performance ensembles, each of which prepares one-to-two-hour concerts during the school year.

During the academic year there are two exam periods in all the classes -- a test in January and an exam in May. If a child doesn’t make it the administration suggests that he moves to another class or to another sphere.

“Sometimes the children’s physical shape changes and we remain satisfied with the fact that we gave an aesthetical education,” says the director of Hayordats Tun.

Among its many classes, Hayordats Tun’s performance classes are most popular.

Andreasyan says part of the reason is that attending private music schools is too expensive for many families, so the children come to Children’s House.

Hammering out art

Last year, four graduates from the center’s music program were admitted into the State Conservatory without any additional training. “That is the evaluation of our work’s effectiveness,” Andreasyan says.

Children who participate in circus classes learn acrobatics, choreography, acting and magic. But teacher Armen Avetisyan complains that children are too tender nowadays.

“Parents forget that this is sports, moreover a very severe one,” he says. “After one day’s rest, there’s a day of hard work ahead, otherwise there will be no result.”

Students from the circus school have participated in international festivals, including Ani Gabrielyan, 11, and Anna Khachatryan, 15, who won gold medals in Briansk, Russia in 2002.

Part of Hayordats Tun’s success, Andreasyan says, is that its exceptional graduates become teachers for the next generation of students.

Over the past decade, some 15000 children have participated in the center’s programs, maintaining a tradition that started with the Soviets and was adapted by the Church of Armenia, to give youth a place where mind, body and spirit are nurtured.


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