OPINION: Good News for a Change

By Garen Yegparian

See–I’m not all doom and gloom. I’ve seen a few good things on the Armenian scene this year.

One was the people of the Arapkir district of Yerevan getting organized to stand up for their water rights as detailed by Apo Boghigian in some of his Asbarez columns. The initiative demonstrated by that action is what will build the country and develop a sense of accountability to the people by government.

Another example of initiative–reported in the March 17 Asbarez (Armenian)–is that of the Krouzian-Zakarian-Vabouragan students. They conducted research and sent a letter to effect the correction of a caption in one of their textbooks.

Which leads me to the hope I have for the Armenian Academy of Los Angeles. This is an institution abirthing. Among all the good things it proposes to do–it must inspire (not instill–that would be contradictory) its students to take the initiative–yet cooperatively. Too often initiative is translated as being headstrong or doing things alone. I hope the students will come to recognize the important role they are to play in our nation’s future–which necessarily means bringing the rest of our community along in their initiatives.

The Academy is designed to fill a niche need. Some twenty years ago–I recall Garo Armenian describing a vision of an institution much like the Academy. A core group has been meeting intensely for the last handful of years–discussing and planning its launch. The target date is the next academic year–starting with 9th grade and building annually to a full high school. The curriculum is so rich–I want to go back to high school!

As with all novel efforts–this is no mean feat. To their credit–the founders are utilizing innovative approaches to achieve their goals. This approach–of course–holds truest when it comes to financing. They’re succeeding in engaging our oft-tapped benefactors in a promising endeavor. In fact–a gala kickoff is in the offing the first week of April–watch for details.

No elitist–hoity-toity–snooty bunch are these founders. They’re even organizing focus groups to address core concerns from financial to curriculum. Some of these have already occurred. Others are upcoming.

If the campaign is conducted with the same gravity and eye to public relations demonstrated in the introductory package distributed last spring–then the greater Los Angeles community will be blessed with a major new and positive institution.

As with any new project–this one too has its detractors and naysayers. The only arguably valid concern I’ve encountered is its possible effect on our current network of Armenian schools. Let me point out that the heyday of Armenian school building in North America was the late ’70’s-early eighties. Since then–our school "system" has been static. I see the Armenian Academy of Los Angeles–once successful–as the initiator of a new period of growth for the cornerstone institution of the diaspora- Armenian education and the development of compatriotic bonds in childhood.

Let’s support this exciting effort. Check out the website too–www.armenianacademyofla.org.

Opinions expressed in this column are those of the author’s and not necessarily those of Asbarez.

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