GLENDALE—As part of the “Armenian History Month” in the LA County, the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region’s Education Committee members visited a number of schools. They were actively touring southern California public schools with the intent to educate students about the Armenian Genocide, as well as discussing the unprecedented and often-overlooked American humanitarian assistance campaign through the Near East Relief, which saved and sustained hundreds of thousands of Armenian Genocide survivors from 1915 – 1930.
As part of the ANCA-WR’s initiatives to commemorate and raise greater awareness about the Armenian Genocide, the Education Committee representatives presented to thousands of students ranging from the elementary to high school grade levels, upon the invitation of the faculty and staff of Montebello High School, John Burroughs High School in Burbank, John Muir Middle School in Burbank, Blair High School in Pasadena, Sierra Madre Middle School, Marshall Fundamental Secondary School, Mountain View Elementary School in Sunland, and Alliance Marine – Information and Technology.
In some cases, the speakers addressed school assemblies, encompassing the entire student population. In others, Education Committee representatives, supported by the ANCA-WR staff, spent full days presenting classroom to classroom and even to specific student club chapters.
Career educators Dr. Kay Mouradian and Medea Kalognomos took the lead in organizing these presentations and were successful in engaging participation and interest among the students. Dr. Mouradian presented her mother’s story of survival, which she adapted for a novel titled, “My Mother’s Voice,” after conducting years of research in several countries. Dr. Mouradian’s novel is also accompanied by a documentary and most recently was turned into a musical titled “A Journey of Angels,” that was featured at multiple venues in the month of April. These works tell the story of Dr. Mouradian’s mother, who survived the Armenian Genocide at the age of 14 after being deported to the Syrian desert.
Kalognomos with the support of the ANCA-WR staff presented the story of the founding of the Near East Relief, the United States’ oldest Congressionally-sanctioned non-governmental organization which for the first time in American history expressed the collective generosity and humanitarianism of the American people.
Kalognomos detailed insights into the extensive network of U.S. government, religious, civic, and individual participation in support of Near East Relief—from all 48 states—which raised today’s equivalent of over $2.7 billion to save Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks and other minorities in the Near East region during and after the Armenian Genocide. Established by Congressional mandate and supported by three consecutive U.S. Presidents, the landmark relief campaign would serve as a model for a host of American international and humanitarian efforts that followed.
In addition to these presentations, ANCA-WR Education Committee members Laura Michael Gaboudian and Dr. Mouradian in addition to a supportive parent Anzhela Martirosyan were present on April 23 to speak in support of a resolution that passed, proposed by LAUSD School Board Member Kelly Gonez. The measure recommends the district to explore the idea of designating April 24 as a pupil-free or unassigned day in future school calendars, starting 2021 – 2022. The resolution also asks the school superintendent to report back in 120 days on a plan to accommodate families who are commemorating the day.
Watch the meeting here.
According to Gonez, LAUSD schools with higher Armenian-American populations tend to have an absentee rate twice as high as average on April 24, as Armenian families participate in marches and other community activities. The resolution also asks the district to make sure teachers are properly teaching about the Armenian Genocide in classrooms.
Comprised of dedicated community members from the field of education, the ANCA-WR Education Committee fosters and maintains relations with officials, administrators and representatives from community based organizations that deal with education and youth matters. More specifically, the committee focuses on implementing Genocide Education curricula in public schools and works with local ANCA-WR chapters to address the needs of Armenian-American teachers, parents and students at school sites by monitoring and proposing activities and programs
The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region is the largest and most influential nonpartisan Armenian American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.