(Los Angeles, California) – On April 19, 2023, hundreds of students, parents, teachers, and administrators gathered to commemorate the Armenian Genocide: Remembering the Armenian Genocide: Memory & Remembrance to Awareness & Action, organized by Los Angeles School District’s (LAUSD) Board Member, Kelly Gonez, in partnership with the ANCA Western Region Education Committee.
“It was an emotional day for me to see our community come together to see our talented students sing and recite poems in honor of the Armenian Genocide Observance Day. Being a former LAUSD student and an employee, I never thought I would see the day where the second largest district in the United States will close down to remember the victims of the Armenian Genocide. Truly remarkable!” said ANCA Western Region Education Committee Board Member, Lucy Martirosyan.
The event, which took place at Mt. Gleason Middle School in Sunland, included performances from students who honored their Armenian heritage, a statement from school board member Gonez dedicating her unwavering support for the Armenian students she represents, and awards distributed to Armenian-American educators who have gone above and beyond to educate students about the Armenian Genocide and Armenian heritage.
Parents and teachers were later invited to a presentation by students about the Armenian struggle to survive in their ancestral homeland in the face of Turkey and Azerbaijan’s genocidal campaign. “Many people ask what the Armenian People are fighting for,” one student said in their presentation, “We fight because we want to live in peace; free from persecution and genocide. All we want is peace.”
Students performed moving poetry, songs, and other celebrations of Armenian heritage and resilience. Arts and crafts opportunities were available for students who chose to draw their names in an ancient Armenian calligraphy known as bird lettering or Trchnagir. Educators also presented their work in the dual language program, which has allowed thousands of Armenian students to engage in their studies in both Armenian and English.
“I want to thank every teacher who joined us at our event and who work every day to preserve the memories, lives, and stories of Armenians. It was inspiring to see our students perform works that spoke to the richness of Armenian culture and heritage. I also want to thank ANCA-Western Region and its amazing Education Committee for leading such meaningful work and for helping craft a better, more inclusive world for all our children to thrive in,” said LAUSD Board Member Kelly Gonez.
The commemorative event is accompanied by the recent launch of the collaborative K-12 Educator’s Guide: a comprehensive resource of frameworks and lessons, developed by the office of LAUSD Board Member Kelly Gonez and ANCA Western Region Education Committee, to help educators teach about the Armenian Genocide. In 2019, Gonez introduced a resolution written in collaboration with the ANCA Western Region Education Committee, which passed unanimously in 2020, establishing April 24 as a student and staff-free day, allowing teachers, students, administrators, and families to observe and remember the Armenian Genocide. This year will be the first that LAUSD students will have this important day off. The 2023 Educator’s Guide serves as a critical tool for teachers to educate their students about why they have the day off, and what they can do to commemorate the event annually, and stand in solidarity with their Armenian peers.