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'It really is like a family'

Providence High School

June 09, 2010|By Max Zimbert
(Raul Roa )

As a truck driver, Carlos Trigueros said he works 17 hours a day, six days a week, and even moved closer to Burbank so his children wouldn't have to commute so far to and from Providence High School.

Watching his daughter Karla graduate Saturday at the Hall of Liberty at Forest Lawn was worth the sacrifice, he said.

"I'm happy if my daughter is happy," he said. "We want to make a difference and bring good in the world, and that's why we put our kids in this school, so they could be better people."

The private Catholic school of fewer than 500 students is one of a kind, said James Reiner, whose daughter, Aisling, won accolades in art and science from her school and the city this year.

"She and her classmates are the future of our country, and I've got a very positive outlook," he said. "They are great kids."

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Nevermind the future, the students mostly celebrated the past — years where they found themselves, their friends, their passions and more.

"A lot of people don't choose their careers, but they know when they graduate what they want to do with their lives," said Merces Aposhian, a graduate. "I don't think they teach us [this]. We individuals combine to create the whole environment."

Many described Providence as a place where trust and respect are so prevalent that there's no need for locks on lockers.

"We look out for each other's well being," said graduate Arthur Nalvandian. "There are no punks."

The only thing that qualifies as bullying is on par with a sibling rivalry, said graduate Michelle Kaewthongkam.

"Everyone is open with each other, and even if there is some bullying, it's probably just teasing," she said. "There are no cliques."

Math teacher Mary Saikali said the attitudes reflect a commitment to principled behavior and a strong upbringing.

"The religion piece could be a big part, but people don't say it's my religion helping me, they live their religion," she said. "They live with respect and trust, and they come from very good families."

Students walked two-by-two down the aisle at the Hall of Liberty and lined up onstage. In green caps and gowns, they stood shoulder to shoulder before a movie-screen-sized deep-green curtain.

"Providence is like no other school," said Buzand Oganesian, a graduate. "Everyone is together, and there's nothing but love. Everyone knows each other."

A graduating class of more than 100 students helps, but the nature of the school and the families who enroll their children play a tremendous part too, said Dikran Nalbandian, the class' senior speaker.

"Everyone is on a first-name basis with each other," he said. "It really is like a family."

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