Hundreds of children, parents, grandparents and school teachers and staff celebrated the annual Cultural Day with an event of songs, dancing, poetry and food. Students and school staff wore white T-shirts with the phrase, “School is where culture is kept.”
Enrollment remains strong at the first-through-eighth-grade campus. The school educates roughly 500 students and is one of few Armenian schools that offers language classes in western and eastern dialects.
“It’s a great show of unity,” said Saro Nazarian, chair of the Eastern Armenian Department. “Encouraging kids to learn their heritage and history . . . they recognize how their ancients lived in their homeland, and that’s what we try to convey to these kids who were born in the U.S. in a multiethnic society.”
The festival celebrates the creation of the Armenian alphabet in the fifth century, Nazarian said.
“Armenians are one of the most ancient cultures on Earth, and we want to keep that alive,” he said.
The Cultural Day provided valuable learning opportunities for Armenian language and history instructor Vilma Kouyoumjian’s first-, third- and sixth-graders.
“This is how they learn,” she said. “It’s not a Broadway show, but it’s fun, and it is memorable.”
Her students master the language by repetition and by doing. Many students read arags, or short Armenian fables, aloud in class. Kouyoumjian recounted one about a fox that criticized a lion for producing only one cub. The story is illustrative of quality versus quantity, Kouyoumjian said.
“The themes can be applied to all humankind,” she said. “When they listen to how you speak [Armenian], they pick up and use your words.”