Alex who is in 8th grade, knew very little about his family’s history, especially the impact of the Armenian Genocide on his ancestors. As he prepared his presentation for the junior high chapel “The 100th Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide,” he needed to talk with his father because he knew very little. Through these conversations he learned about stories of faith, heroism, and sacrifice that he had never heard of before. Alex began to develop a greater sense of gratitude for his Armenian heritage when he realized the unfathomable numbers of Armenians who died. However, just as important, he spent hours with his dad building a deeper connection that is often difficult to have during the teenage years. Alex and his dad had always been close, but now they were talking about stories that bound their family together for generations.
We often think of family projects as part of the elementary years: building a California Mission, creating a family tree, or working on a science fair project together. As students begin their teenage years, it is more difficult to find ways for parents and children to communicate and interact. Many teenagers feel that their parents are only interested in their grades and what college they will be attending. One way to provide student-parent bonding is through chapel presentations that tie their family history together with Biblical stories.
During one student’s presentation on his father’s journey from El Salvador to America, he noted that he wanted to have the same determination and faith as his father. One young girl discovered that her Greek Orthodox great-grandfather’s courageous faith during a time of great upheaval in Greece was the glue that held the family together for generations. Another young person discovered that his grandfather’s lifetime pursuit of racial equality in the Episcopal Church had been spurred when as a young boy he had been denied entry into the Boy Scouts, because he was African American. These stories of faith and family offer rare opportunities for students and parents to connect with one another.
The Rev. Canon Norman S. Hull is Lower and Middle School Chaplain at Campbell Hall (Episcopal), North Hollywood, California.