A group of teachers retrenched during the closure of St Gregory’s Armenian School at Rouse Hill are keeping the Armenian language alive for a younger generation through a Saturday school in Sydney’s north-west.
The school’s public officer and teacher, Irina Ghougassian, said about 40 children aged four to 16 attend classes at Terra Sancta College in Quakers Hill to learn Armenian language, grammar, history, culture and music.
Volunteer teachers run the classes and children practice songs in a school choir in the last half hour of lessons.
‘‘We hold carols in December in English and Armenian,’’ Mrs Ghougassian said.
‘‘Language is the main thing but we always focus on values and principles. We don’t actively teach religion but what comes across is a sense of family, sanctity and unity that is very important.
‘‘The main reason to establish the school was for the students who are not attending an Armenain day school because geographically it is too far away for them,’’ she said.
Mrs Ghougassian said it was difficult to gauge how many Armenian families there were in the local area, though some travelled on buses from Glenwood and Bonyrigg.
Parent from the local Armenian community Raffi Melkonian registered the Saturday school with the Department of Education’s community languages program in 2010, after St Gregory’s was liquidated and sold due to a financial dispute between school owners and the Commonwealth Bank.
The Kellyville resident’s two children travel an hour and 20minutes one way to to get to the nearest Armenian day school in Terrey Hills each day.
He said there were plans to turn the Saturday school into a full-time primary school in the future.
‘‘Awareness is first,’’ he said.
‘‘These teachers are really experienced — that’s why parents send their children from as far as Fairfield.’’
Classes are at Terra Sancta College, Eastern Road, Quakers Hill on Saturdays, 10am-2pm. Details: 0414390577, 96493189.