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June 4, 2008 > Centerville Junior High School bids farewell to Dr. Mirigian

Centerville Junior High School bids farewell to Dr. Mirigian

By Meenu Gupta
Photos By courtesy of Jeannine Schneider

On Friday, June 13, students and staff will gather to bid farewell to Dr. Garo Alan Mirigian as he retires from his position as principal of Centerville Junior High School and 40 years of service with the Fremont Unified School District. Mirigian taught high school social studies and music then served as a school site administrator for 25 years - high school assistant principal, vice principal and for the last 20 years, principal of Centerville Junior High School. Dr. Mirigian's last official day as principal is June 30. He leaves behind an extensive and lasting legacy treasured by students, former students, parents, colleagues and the community.

He established two performing groups: "The Thor Throats" at Irvington High School and "The Towne Criers" at American High School. He took 18 American High School students on a 3 week tour of the Orient to perform at the World Expo in Okinawa in 1975. "We visited the Philippines, Hong Kong, Okinawa, Tokyo, and Hawaii," said Dr. Mirigian. "As a principal, I have worked hard to improve the general condition of our school, to bridge the gap between school and community, to select the best possible instructional staff, and to give students a positive educational experience."

Talking about his school's growth during his tenure, he said, "Centerville has changed quite a bit over the last 20 years. When I first arrived, the student population was just over 700, and it was not a very diverse student body. Over these 20 years, our numbers have grown to nearly 1,000 (there were a few recent years which were nearly 1,200), and our student population is quite diverse." The facility is completely remodeled, with many new buildings and features.

Dr. Mirigian was recently honored by the Masons, who have an outstanding reputation for supporting public education. At an event held Wednesday, April 30, at the Masonic Hall in Centerville as part of Public Education Week, Mirigian was honored for his years of service in education, and recognition that 100% of his staff have been trained in a special program to assist school personnel communicate effectively with students sponsored by the Masonic Foundation.

Born and raised in San Francisco as a child of immigrants, Dr. Mirigian understood the value of education and the teaching profession from his family. "I have several family members who are teachers," he said. Appreciation of fine arts was also part of his childhood. He began piano lessons at 4 years old and was hooked on music. "Before I graduated from high school, I had already earned my Bachelor's Degree in music from Trinity College - in London," he said. He feels lucky about starting his career as a music teacher. "It provided me a wonderful experience with students, staff and parents, and it gave me so much public exposure."

Well recognized for his affable manner and extensive knowledge, Mirigian has extensive experience integrating his school and the community at large. His ability to form a bridge between the sometimes disparate cultures of educators and business has been invaluable for the growth of his school and the Fremont Unified School District. Using this experience, he spent five years training teachers from newly independent countries of the former Soviet Union as they struggled to establish Civics education in their "newly independent" school systems.

For someone with this breadth of professional involvement on the local scene, the impact of Dr. Garo Mirigian's presence is immense and awe-inspiring. He notes, "When you look back at how many students you have encountered over 40 years of experience, that's a lot of lives you have come in contact with. That's both exciting and a little frightening - to realize that you have potential influence over so many young people. That's a big responsibility."

For someone of this caliber and dedication, final days at Centerville Junior High School is not an end, rather a beginning of a new set of responsibilities. After his retirement Dr. Mirigian looks forward to spending quality time with his family and his new grandson. "I plan to teach at the college level (something I've been doing part-time for 10 years). Also, I will be doing some additional work - both volunteer and more officially - for the Fremont School District," he added.

"My constant message to my students is that they should never settle for less than their best. They have each been given gifts, but it's up to them to make the best use of those gifts. As for my staff, I think they're wonderful. My message to them would be to never lose sight of why we're in education - the kids! It's always been about the students!"

Retirement Party of Dr. Garo Mirigian
Friday, June 13
6:30 p.m.
Fremont Marriott
46100 Landing Parkway, Fremont
Information: (510) 797-2072

Tickets $55 per person (includes gift)
Cost is $50 per person if paid by May 1 (but $55 after May 1 until June 1).

Checks should be made payable to "Centerville Sunshine Fund" and sent to:
Jeannine Schneider
Centerville Junior High School
37720 Fremont Blvd., Fremont 94536

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