St. Stephen’s a unique place for students to learn

Leanna Dorian, Raider Times staff

Houry Boyamian loves her job. Working as the principal of St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School in Watertown, she says she gets “to see the growth of the students form preschool to fifth grade and how they progress.”

“The best part,” she says, “is thinking how to make the school better for the students and the teachers. Serving the mission of the school.”

St. Stephen’s is a private Armenian elementary school on 47 Nichols Ave., which opened in 1984. The school has 145 students but that number is growing every year. The principal, Boyamian, has been there since 1988. 

Looking back on their experience at SSAES, Nayiri Chekijian and Sarine Nigoghosian, who were part of the Class of 2018, described their time at the school as “Some of the best years of my life.”

Since 2004, the fifth-grade class has gone to Armenia for two weeks each May.

However because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the school has been prevented from sending students. The last class to go to Armenia was in 2019. 

Boyamian is hopeful these trips may resume in the future. “The Class of 2021 will travel in July, if the conditions are favorable,” she says. “The Class of 2022 will be going in May of 2022.”

St. Stephen’s has been affected greatly by COVID beyond just the cancellation of the trip to Armenia. Last year, classes were taught virtually and students only attended two days a week in person. By October 2020, it shifted to four days a week in person and only one day virtually.

SSAES also has COVID testing. “When a student is exposed. the student is tested five consecutive days,” she explains. “lf the student doesn’t have any symptoms, and is negative, they can continue studies in the school.”

In the past, SSAES used to hold prayers in the mornings daily, but as a result of COVID, this is no longer the practice. Boyamian explains we “used to have morning assembly students come, quarter to 8. 8:05 is morning prayer, pledge of allegiance, and Armenian national anthem. After COVID, we started doing it virtually. Now we are doing it just on Mondays virtually then make announcements.”

–Nov. 22, 2021–