Merrimack Valley Knights Honor Nine Graduates


216491By Tom Vartabedian

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. —  It was a banner year for students of Armenian descent living in Merrimack Valley.

Included in the graduating class were scholars, athletes, community servants and participating members of the Armenian community.

Nine of these individuals were honored by the Arakadz Lodge, Merrimack Valley Knights of Vartan, with parents and families looking on with admiration.

The Knights have made this convocation a familiar practice over the years and this was no exception. Each graduate received a one-ounce Armenian silver coin depicting Mount Ararat and the resting of Noah’s Ark on one side and the Republic of Armenia Coat of Arms on the other.

Joining in the presentation was Commander Denis Hamboyan, who opened the evening with an overview of the Knights, along with Past Commander Harry Alexanian, who chaired the event.

Keynote speaker was Dro Kanayan, chairman, Armenian Genocide Education Committee of Merrimack Valley, who outlined the vitality of a good education and his group’s activity over the past centennial year with visits to some 15 schools.

“Our students make us very proud,” said Hamboyan. “They reflect upon our community very well and will now proceed to higher education and a future they have formed with extreme diligence.  Hopefully, they will return to Merrimack Valley and become vital components in our future.”

According to Alexanian, the Knights continue to live up to their reputation for promoting humanitarian, educational and philanthropic endeavors.

“It’s an organization that makes a difference,” he said. “Many of our former students have been impacted by our Graduates Night and turned into vital citizens. We hope to continue this program for many years to come.”

Those recognized are:

Sophia Kitabjian: A graduate of North Andover, she twice earned placement in DECA competitions, one for creating an advertising campaign and another for entrepreneurship. Sophia belonged to the Student Ambassador Club and edited her high school paper. She participated in varsity volleyball and track, along with dance, and volunteering at Brightview Assisted Living. She will attend Azusa Pacific University as a business major.

Jack Berberian: A graduate of Andover High, he earned an excellence in Physical Education his junior and senior years. He was a member of the Fishing Club and was active with football and track. He will attend Salem State in the fall.

Brianne Hanedanian: As a graduate of Haverhill High, Brienne was an honor roll student and enjoys physical education. She will major in nursing at Northern Essex Community College.

Nick Kochakian: A graduate of Phillips Academy, Nick earned the Prize for Excellence in Greek and was a board member of the Food Waste Club. He is a swimming and basketball instructor for mentally and hearing impaired children. Nick serves as an acolyte at St. Gregory Church.  He will attend Boston College in preparation for a career in medicine.

Nick Kulungian:  An honors student at Andover High, Nick will study computer science at the University of Rhode Island. He serves as an acolyte at St. Gregory Church where he’s active in many roles and played basketball in the YMCA League.

John Mahlebjian: A graduate of Andover High, John will study computer science at Merrimack College where he received an academic scholarship. He’s an acolyte at St. Gregory Church and served as president of the North Andover AYF.  His interests include computers, programming and video editing.

Jake Soraghan: Jake graduated from Pinkerton Academy, where he was in advanced placement track. He participated on the Debate Team and active with Armenian Church at Hye Pointe as a member of the ACYOA. He will attend Northern Essex with career plans for the US Foreign Service. His interests include MSPCA (animal placement), boxing and basketball.

Dillon Tavitian: A graduate of Winnacunnet High, Dillon earned the Scottish Rite Medal, Junior ROTC Achievement Medal, Rolland Paige Scholarship and American Studies Excellence Award. He was on honor roll for 11 consecutive terms.  Dillon will attend the University of New Hampshire where he will study linguistics in preparation for a career in Marine Corps Intelligence. He has a passion for birding.

Rakel Tavitian: A graduate of Haverhill High, Rakel was a member of the National Honor Society, active in the Student Government Executive Committee and Latin Club. She was an outstanding shot putter on the track team while also interested in basketball and field hockey.  She is a member of the Hye Point Church. Rakel will attend UMass/Lowell where she will study optometry.