Wednesday, 11 November 2015


Over the past fourteen years we have been privileged to have a teacher who has been the backbone of our academic achievement. Our Curriculum Coordinator, Mrs Vicky Dernee is the force that has guided the school and students towards higher achievements. We could not have asked for a better member of the school executive than her. Her support and dedication both inside and outside the classroom is a testament to her achievement. At the start of the year, the School Board nominated Mrs Dernee for the “Australian Scholarships Group National Excellence in Teaching Award”.

During the 25th Anniversary Concert we were happy to announce that from over 1,100 nominations Australia wide, Mrs Vicky Dernee had been named as one of 60 State and Territory recipients of the 2015 ASG National Excellence in Teaching Awards. In fact, she was one of the only 30 NSW award recipients and we hoped she would continue to be selected for the national awards final. Last week, as part of the World Teachers’ Day celebrations, Mrs Dernee was handed her award’s Trophy and Certificate.

On Thursday, 5 November Mrs Dernee received another letter of congratulations, informing her selection for the next  round of judging for a 2015 ASG National Excellence in Teaching Award. From the 60 teachers who received the National Excellence in Teaching State and Territory Awards this year, she was one of the 36 teachers with the highest scores and therefore has been advanced to the next level! To now be considered for one of 12 national awards, Mrs Dernee will need to complete a short essay on her teaching and provide a video interview. The scores from these two assessments will be added to her existing score to determine the 12 teachers to receive an ASG NEiTA National Award.

On behalf of the School Board, members of staff and the Alexander family, we congratulate and thank Mrs Dernee for her many years of service and dedicated work in teaching our children. We also wish her all the best in the final round of the national teaching award.

ASG’s National Excellence in Teaching Awards (NEiTA) Foundation was established in 1994 to honour exemplary teaching throughout Australia and New Zealand. For more than 20 years, these awards have provided communities with the opportunity to formally recognise and thank outstanding teachers and leaders. ASG is proud to continue its support for the teaching profession by acknowledging the valuable role inspirational teachers play in the development of our young people. Since its inception, ASG NEiTA has received more than 30,000 nominations from early childhood and school communities throughout Australia. More than 1000 teachers have received awards, and more than $125,000 has been awarded in professional development grants and prizes.


On Tuesday (3 November, 2015), we were honoured to have distinguished guests from Armenia. Master sculptor Varaztad Hambardzumyan and assistant Garik Hovhannisyan not only came to see the school but also joined with the students and staff in explaining and demonstrating the unique skill and art of crafting Armenian Khachkars.

Earlier this year, Willoughby City Council unanimously passed a motion recognising the Armenian Genocide and approved the development application to erect a cross stone or a ‘Khachkar’ Genocide Memorial, commemorating the Centenary year.

After having carved the Memorial Khachkar, our master sculptor had come to Sydney ahead of the official unveiling and dedication ceremony. This unique and intricate masterpiece is to be located at Beauchamp Park, Chatswood.


In October, our local Terrey Hills Library turned 50! This milestone deserves acknowledgement, when we consider the fact that the library is run by a dedicated team of volunteers, serving the community.

On Friday, 9th October the library welcomed Warringah Council’s caravan called ‘Marilyn’. Marilyn was parked outside the library so that preschool and primary school aged children could visit it and hear stories sitting inside.  Our Prep and Kindergarten students visited the caravan with Mrs Seta Keoshgerian, and had a wonderful time in hearing stories and exploring the library.

As part of the celebration, a colour-in competition was also organised by the library for pre-school and primary students. Our junior classes together with students from the local schools participated in the competition, by submitting their colourful entries. Congratulations to Sargis Hambardzumyan and Sara Demirjian for being selected winners of their age group and being awarded with book prizes.


Nearly two weeks after our 25th Anniversary Concert the messages of heartfelt congratulations continue to flood in, underpinning the quality of our concert and the school achievements. The congratulations are first and foremost directed at our magnificent school for continuing to provide high quality education to young members of our community. Education that has set the foundation for their future endeavours. We are blessed by their continued presence, contribution and service to their school and community, many years on from their graduation. It is this strong sense of belonging and community spirit that gives us the strength to move forward, ‘To Grow & Serve’.

This initial stepping stone, yet vital service to the children of our community would not have been possible without the support of the Armenian General Benevolent Union. For over a quarter of a century the AGBU Central Board has been instrumental in maintaining this service, together with the support and dedicated efforts of the AGBU Sydney Chapter. Members of the School Board with their guidance and management have made sure the quality of service was not undermined, together with the school executive and members of staff. It is appropriate that we once again acknowledge their contribution and thank the Founding Members, our sponsors, the school families and the community for their support.
I would like to take this opportunity and also thank the following people for their contribution to the success of the concert. Special thank you to Serop Aslanian and Talar Kapterian for running the evening’s program. Thank you to Natalie Topouzian for delivering the Graduate’s speech and Natalie Urriola for speaking on behalf of the P&C Committee and as one of the first graduates. Also thank you to Zela Margosian-Gaspar and her ‘Mythra’ Ensemble for joining in the evening’s programme and accompanying the choir. Special thanks to the AGBU Tamzara Folk Dance Group, Sevag Keoshgerian for being the technician, and for the backstage assistants Aren Bedikian, George Keoshgerian, Michael Tateossian and Daniel Zorlu. Our appreciations also go to Vahe Keoshgerian for organising the delivery of the choir stands, the P&C Committee for providing sandwiches and special treats to all the performers. Mihran Kessikbashian for making the commemorative badges and help put together the commemorative bookmark. Last but not least, Tatiana Bedikian, Marine Anoushian and Ilda Zorlu for assisting the guests at the door. May God give all of you strength and good health to continue your valued contribution for the ultimate benefit of our children, our future. Finally, congratulations to all the students and staff for putting together a great performance.

Thank you to our parents, founding members, current and former Board and committee members, sponsors, supporters, family and friends for your support and dedication over the past 25 years. With your continued support we will continue to "Grow & Serve" for many years to come!

30th October, 2015
Manoug Demirjian

25th ANNIVERSARY CONCERT - A magnificent tribute to educational excellence!

Over the past week, I have had the pleasure of receiving numerous phone calls, emails and messages of congratulations and praise, from members of the community who could not find enough adjectives to describe our 25th Anniversary Concert.

Wonderful! Excellent! Fantastic! Magnificent! Amazing! Brilliant! Splendid!... were just some of the adjectives used to describe this unique concert. Most commented on the quality of the program that encapsulated them from start to finish. While we acknowledge the hard work and dedication of many to make this possible, I also accept the fact that we could not provide anything less in our tribute to what we all believe is the best educational institution in this country.

At this stage, I would like the photos and videos that are published in today’s Newsletter and on our website to do the talking. I will provide a detailed report next week when more of what was achieved has sunk in; including our special notes of appreciation towards everyone who made sure the day was a huge success.

23rd October 2015
Manoug Demirjian

ARMENIAN TEACHERS BLESSED - Feast of Holy Translators

The October commemoration of the ‘Holy Translators’ focuses on the creation of the Armenian alphabet and on the accomplishments of the Holy Translators. In modern times the entire month of October has been designated as a “Month of Culture.” Armenians throughout the Diaspora and Armenia mark this with events not only in remembrance of the past, but in celebration of modern-day scholars, theologians, writers, translators and in our parish, teachers of Armenian schools.
On Sunday, 11 October 2015 a special service and blessing took place at the Armenian Apostolic Church of Holy Resurrection on the ‘Feast of the Holy Translators’. With the invitation of His Grace Bishop Haigazoun Najarian, all teachers of our Armenian Schools were recognised for their valuable contribution toward instilling our cultural heritage and national identity through education in our future generations.
During the service, teachers received Holy Communion and were also witness to the Blessing of the Water with the ‘Muron of Victory’. The Primate had recently arrived from the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin bringing the blessed Holy Muron to our Diocese.
Following the Divine Liturgy a reception was held in the Edgarian hall in honour of our teachers.


On Tuesday (6 October, 2015)  the students visited the Life Education Van. The Life Education program utilises the latest technology and provides children with online resources and problem solving activities. The students participated in programs to build their awareness and understanding of the link between choices they make and their short and longer term consequences. They were taught to value their safety and health and that of others. They were given strategies so that they could develop attitudes that can prepare them to make safer and healthier choices. The students were also taught about how to identify strategies and build confidence and skills to help them to deal with peer and community pressure. Louise led each class through a wonderful variety of enjoyable activities helping the student develop the skills needed to make informed decisions.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015


The last Thursday of the school term saw the culmination of our Asian Studies in HSIE. The

celebrations started with a delicious lunch and selection of Chinese, Japanese or Indian cuisine. The Chinese rice and spring rolls, the Indian butter chicken together with the Naan bread were great to taste. The Japanese Gyoza (dumplings) and the Udon Noodles in Okonomi sauce were also a nice treat. For dessert the students were able to get an insight into their futures by choosing a sweet tasting fortune cookie. The students were then able to share the knowledge they had gained about their Asian country in our special assembly.

It was wonderful to see all the students dressed up in the traditional costumes of their respective country of study. The hall was also nicely decorated with fantastic displays and a table full of information about each Asian country.

After individually presenting the fascinating information they had learnt about India, Years 1 & 2 had a fun dance display about some of the animals that are found in India. Prep and Kindergarten students were next to discuss and answer questions about China. They were able to share some factual information about the most populous country in the world and show some of their craftwork. This was followed by a Chinese New Year song and an instrumental piece performed by the students.

Years 4-6 presented their extensive knowledge of Japan and acted out a play about the impact of foreign intervention on Japanese traditional culture. They then set up a mini percussion orchestra and with the vocal support of Anita played and sang a lovely Japanese song. However, as if this was not enough, the audience were then asked to stand up and learn how to say ‘head’, ‘shoulders’, ‘knees’, ‘toes’ and other body parts in Japanese and before you know it everyone was singing and dancing the song we all love... in Japanese!

We not only had a fun and entertaining afternoon but also a great educational experience learning about some of the unique customs and aspects of the daily life of the three Asian countries studied.

Thank you to all the teachers and staff for organising the event and helping prepare the food and dress the children. Also a big thank you to all the parents who joined us in the afternoon to witness the great learning that takes place everyday in our classrooms.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015


On Wednesday, May 20 the Sydney Japanese School hosted the second debate for the Interschool Debating Competition. The topic  was “We should all buy Australian grown food”. Alexander Primary was the negative and our opponents were the John Colet School as the affirmative.
The negative team consisted of Taniel as first speaker, Tzolare as second speaker, Matthew as third and Talia was fourth speakers.
Taniel started his case by defining the topic and putting forward a strong case line that “We should have the choice to decide”. He used strong arguments as to why we need to import food and outlined many reasons from economic to availability of the product and very simply for having the freedom of choice.
Second speaker Tzolare was there ready to rebut many of the points that the affirmative team put forward and she did this with ease. She went on to inform us about the benefits of imports and the negative environmental effects of farming and grazing in Australia. She argued that international trade is responsible for much of the development and prosperity of the modern world. By also stating that trade increases competition and lowers world prices she deduced quality of foods is likely to increase as competition encourages us to make our products better.
Matthew, our third speaker came out strong and was able to rebut everything the opposition had said and summed up his team’s case. Talia was our fourth speaker. Her role was to help with any rebuts if needed and to thank the other team for a very challenging debate.
Both teams had strong speakers and had researched the topic well to present excellent arguments. It was very closely fought, with our team coming up with the win in the end. Well done debaters!

Tuesday, 19 May 2015


The debating season is again upon us. On Wednesday, 6th May our school hosted the first debate. In this competition we will be competing against Year 6 students from The German International School, Sydney Japanese School, John Colet and Galstaun College for the Interschool Debating Trophy.

In our first debate we opposed Galstaun College. The topic was ‘Sports Stars should not be role models’ and we were on the negative team. The negative team consisted of Taniel as first speaker, Tzolare as second speaker, Nina as third speaker and Matthew was fourth speaker. Samuel took care of the time keeping and Talia was the chairperson.

Our team was able to use strong arguments and well thought out rebuts. We spoke clearly and were able to convince the adjudicators that we presented the stronger case. It was a great round one result! Well done team!

Debating Coordinator

Monday, 30 March 2015


On the 9/3/15 Years 4, 5 and 6 went to the Glen Street theatre to watch the Duffys Forest Defenders.
The transportation that we used to go there was a minibus. When we arrived we sat outside waiting for them to call us in. Eventually they called us in and we were the first to go in. We sat at the second from the front. Leonie was the lecturer who called out her friend Billie the Bandicoot. When Billie was walking backstage he shook his bottom and everybody laughed. Then Leonie presented the mayor of Warringah to speak to the audience. When he finished his speech Leonie presented one of the defenders of Warringah, a ranger named Anthony.
Anthony showed us a baby ringtail possum, and everyone thought it was cute. He rescued the possum because his mother had died.  Anthony brought out a diamond python. He called up some students to touch it, and one of those students was Nina. He told us an interesting story about a diamond python that lived in his ceiling. It shed its skin and when Anthony was going to sleep he heard a screaming noise. So he got his flashlight and looked in his ceiling and then he saw a diamond python squeezing a rat, and then his eyeballs popped out and he thought that the rat must have been screaming.
The ranger brought two lizards on to the stage. One was a blue tongue lizard and the other was a water dragon the lizards were running all over him. He said don’t hold a lizard by its tail because then their tail would fall off.  Anthony brought out a goanna. He said you might have seen one in your backyard or at school. Anthony showed us a baby fruit bat. He got the baby fruit bat because his mother died, it got caught in the electric wires. He said the bat thought he was his mother because he gave him milk from a bottle.
 The ranger showed a long neck turtle. When he was bringing it out its whole body was in its shell, he was small. Anthony said he’s a speedy fellow so he put the turtle on the floor and it started running. The turtle was fast. Anthony brought out a tawny frogmouth. It looked like a piece of bark. It was well camouflaged on a branch. Everyone thought it was an owl but it wasn’t. Owls have round shaped faces.
The last thing that Anthony brought out was a bearded dragon it crawled all over him just like the other lizards. After that he said that he would bring the bearded dragon out and we could pat it. When it was our schools turn we patted it and then I told Anthony that it was my birthday then he put the bearded dragon on my shoulder. Then we headed home.

By Kevork

Duffys Forest Defenders at Glen Street Theatre

On the ninth of March in 2015 we went to the show Duffys Forest Defenders. We went to the Glen Street theatre to learn about Duffys Forrest and why it is important. We learned about the flora and fauna of Duffys Forest. We went to a lecture and the lecturer was Leonie. There were many different schools that were also participating in this great show. When we got in to the theatre, the mayor of Warringah introduced the show. After that Billy the bandicoot came on stage to say hello to all the students.
Anthony is a ranger and he showed us all kinds of animals. First we saw a baby ringtail possum that was in a cage that was covered in leaves. Blossom was a nocturnal animal that’s why we had to be very quiet so that Blossom the possum didn’t wake up. Then we saw a python and Nina got the opportunity to go on the stage and hold the python with another boy.
After that we got to see a water dragon and a blue tongue lizard. Blue tongue lizards have blue tongues so that their tongue is protected against hot things. After that Anthony brought out a big goanna and let it walk on the stage. We got to see a long neck turtle after the goanna and it had a very long neck, we also got to see it run around the stage. You would think that it would go slowly but it went very fast. He brought out a tawny frogmouth and it looked like an owl, but owls have a more circular face. We saw a bearded dragon in the foyer and because it was Kevork’s birthday he got to hold it on his shoulder.

By Lilit


The Responsible Pet Ownership Education Program visited the school on Wednesday 11 March. A Pet Educator and their dog attended our school to facilitate education sessions on all facets of responsible pet ownership, safety around animals and minimising the risks from dog bites/attacks. The program helped to teach how to be safe around dogs and how to say ‘hello’ to a dog with their owners!
Primary age children remain highly over represented in the dog bite/attack statistics. Ongoing education of children and their families in relation to living safely with dogs is vitally important, if we are to continue to reduce the number of dog attacks in the home and community.

Thursday, 12 February 2015


On the first day of our academic year, we started with a visit from Father Norayr Patanian. During the morning visit, he welcomed all the children who had assembled in the school hall and led a special prayer with a blessing for the start of the new school year. Following his address, the students recited the Lord’s Prayer and after receiving his personal blessings moved to their classrooms.

On Monday, we were visited by His Grace Bishop Vardan Navasardyan from Armenia, accompanied by Diocese and Church Council representatives.

Bishop Navasardyan is currently visiting the Australian Armenian community in an official capacity, representing the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin at the Gala Banquet that will be held this evening to honour the Primate of the Diocese, His Grace Bishop Haigazoun Najarian’s 40th anniversary into the holy priesthood. We join with the rest of the community in congratulating the Primate.

Bishop Navasardyan had a close association with our school as the former parish priest of the Church of Holy Resurrection (2005-2008). He was very happy to be back and be updated with the life of the school, including the advancements that have taken place over the last few years in terms of capital works and classroom innovations. Last year, it was through his efforts that our school was able to establish a ‘sister school’ relationship with a school in Armenia. As the current spiritual leader of the Eurnekian School, our ‘sister school’ in Etchmiadzin, we were able to use the opportunity to discuss how the relationship between the two schools can be enhanced for the future benefit of students and staff.


25 years ago, as a result of many years of hard and dedicated work by members of the Armenian
General Benevolent Union Sydney Chapter, AGBU Alexander Primary School opened its doors for the first time to the Armenian community of Sydney. During the initial year, classes were located at Belrose public school, as the school ground was still being built thanks to our beloved benefactors Dr Alex and Mrs Isabelle Alexander. Their vision to preserve the Armenian language, culture and identity was made possible thanks to the support of the AGBU Central Board and the great generosity of its Honorary Life President Mr Alex Manoogian.

Today, as we welcome students for the 25th time, we reflect on our past achievements, successes and challenges and look forward with renewed commitment to our service to the community. Service that has stayed focused on its mission and proudly produced many fine, well rounded and well educated youngsters. It is even more gratifying to see these graduates, now as young adults, are taking an active role in the community. In the true sense of our motto ‘To Grow & Serve’ - they have grown and are ready to serve the larger Australian community as well as being ambassadors for their Armenian heritage.

Over the past quarter of a century AGBU Alexander Primary School has set the foundation in educating future leaders. This is not only evident in the community but also in the current School Board where two of its graduates have already taken leadership and are ready to direct their school to the next generation. With your continued support and dedication, their task and that of the School Board, is to ensure that this magnificent educational institution is able to serve the needs of the Armenian community for the next 25 years.

On behalf of everyone, I would like to wish them the best of success in their endeavours, as we get ready in
Celebrating 25 Years of Academic Excellence!
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This year also marks the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. The first genocide of the 20th Century. The Australian-Armenian community will be holding special events during the year, coordinated by the ‘Armenian Genocide Centenary Commemoration Committee of Australia’. Alexander School will join in the commemoration to honour the fallen martyrs of Armenia and celebrate our triumph as a nation of survivors, by renewing our demands with vigilance towards the full recognition by the international community and by the successor state of the perpetrators, Turkey. As a community and as Armenians, it is our duty to immortalise our fallen brothers and sisters, and achieve justice and recognition to end denial and historical distortion.

30 January, 2015
Manoug Demirjian