Burbank— On Thursday, April 21, the Burbank Unified School District Board of Education adopted a resolution which designates the month of April as the “Burbank Unified School District’s Month of Commemoration for the Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide of 1915.” Over 30 people spoke in support of the resolution, including BUSD students, alumni, teachers, the former mayor of Burbank, and ANCA activists, before the Board adopted the resolution with a 3-0 vote, with two abstentions.
The Burbank ANCA was instrumental in notifying the public about the resolution, which was introduced by Dr. Armond Aghakhanian of BUSD Board, and encouraging many in attendance to make their voices heard. Several members of the Board commented on the fact that City Council chambers, where the meeting was held, had never been so full during a School Board meeting. “It was amazing to see so many current and recent alumni of BUSD express their support for the resolution so passionately,” said Burbank ANCA Board member Sarkis Simonian. “Having a representative of ANCA-WR Education Committee, Hoori Chalian, demonstrated the commitment ANCA has in ensuring Armenian Genocide education is part of all school curriculum,” he added.
Many students from Burbank High School and Burroughs High School expressed their desire that the Board adopt the resolution. The students at the meeting are active in many clubs at their schools and brought their diverse thinking and background in support of the Armenian Genocide resolution. Students like Henry William Saroyan, Burbank High School’s Co-President of Political Science Club and Captain of Debate Team, Hasmik Jasmine Mkhitarian, Burroughs High School’s Junior State of America Debate Coordinator, and Sam Gorman, Burbank High School’s Social Justice Club President. Each in their own words encouraged the Board to adopt the resolution, which strives to ensure that the Armenian Genocide is properly taught to its faculty, student body, and the community at large.
While all the public comments were in support of the resolution and Superintendent’s staff recommended adoption, Board President Charlene Tabet and Vice President Larry Applebaum expressed concerns about what they felt was the exclusion of other genocides from the resolution, subsequently abstaining from the vote. Board Clerk Steve Ferguson argued that the Board absolutely should adopt resolutions that are brought forth about other genocides and violations of human rights, but that does not prevent the current resolution from being approved. Board member Roberta Reynolds emphatically expressed her support of the resolution and asked district staff to provide a report on the current status of Genocide education within the district. “Burbank Unified School district stood in solidarity with the rest of the state of California and survivors of all genocides to proclaim in one united voice ‘Never Again!’” said Dr. Aghakhanian. With Aghakhanian’s vote, the resolution was adopted 3-0.
“I am proud of the BUSD Board of Education and especially Superintendent Matt Hill for recognizing the importance of educating our students on the Armenian Genocide and being leaders in ensuring the Armenian Genocide is properly commemorated in Burbank schools,” continued Simonian.
The Armenian National Committee of America, Burbank advances the social, economic, cultural, and political rights of the area’s Armenian American community and promotes increased Armenian American civic participation at the grassroots and public policy levels.