AGBU to Close Pasadena’s Vatche and Tamar Manoukian High School

AGBU Vatche and Tamar Manoukian High School

AGBU Vatche and Tamar Manoukian High School

The Closure of Pasadena’s Vatche and Tamar Manoukian High School was Conveyed in an Email

The Armenian General Benevolent Union, citing declining enrollment and increased deficit, has announced that it will combine the “AGBU Vatche and Tamar Manoukian High School (MHS) with our sister AGBU Manoogian-Demirjian School (MDS) on the Canoga Park campus at the end of this school year.”

The decision was conveyed to the MHS community in an email on Friday afternoon from the AGBU Central Board, the Manoukian Foundation and the MHS Board, explaining the reasons for the decision.

“Despite the best efforts of the MHS community, the school has seen stagnant with declining enrollment for several years. We are very thankful to our administration, faculty and staff for their dedication and devotion to the school. Even with concentrated marketing, we have had disappointing results, reflecting a lower community demand, overall, for full-time private Armenian education,” said the letter to the parents obtained by Asbarez.

“Since its inception, regardless of enrollment numbers, the school has been heavily subsidized by AGBU and the Manoukian Foundation. Those subsidies have grown significantly every year, nearing almost $2 million this past year, alone. With its policy of keeping tuition affordable, the $7,980 tuition covers only about a third of the $20,000 per student cost. AGBU and the Manoukian Foundation have been subsidizing each student between $10,000 and $13,000, annually. There has also been a steadily increasing demand for financial aid. Given its commitment to maintaining high academic standards and attracting the best quality teachers, MHS is facing a financial reality that has become untenable,” explained the letter.

The AGBU leadership explained that MHS campus, located in Pasadena, into a cultural center.

“AGBU and the Manoukian Foundation remain committed to providing members of the broader Los Angeles community enhanced opportunities to learn and celebrate our beautiful culture. Combining our two schools allows the Canoga Park campus to focus on excellent traditional education, and creates an opportunity to convert the Pasadena campus into a community and cultural center, anchored by the recently completed state of the art Performing Arts Center, which can be used by the entire community, especially our young people,” said AGBU in the letter.

“The process of redesigning and eventually reconstructing this state of the art cultural hub will be undertaken with the community’s direct input and underwritten by AGBU and the Manoukian Foundation. AGBU has had such centers for generations in countries across the globe, and it is imperative for Los Angeles to have such a center, as well. Among the ideas for what the center can offer are programs in information technology, robotics and engineering classes, music, dance, art, and cooking, in addition to continuing the community sports programs and creating meeting and event spaces. We will continue to keep you informed on the developments of this project,” added the AGBU.


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  1. Արմենակ Եղիայեան said:

    Տխուր գահավիժումը կը շարունակուի…եւ կը թուի, թէ ոչինչ պիտի կարենայ առաջքը առնել անոր: Այստեղ, Լիբանանի մէջ, շատ աւելի լաւ կը ճանչնանք անոր տարողութիւնը:

  2. Alice Derkvorkian said:

    AGBU was a center of gathering and a nest of reunion for children and youth all through the Armenian diaspora. Specially in the middle eastern countries and central Americas. The generosity of the benefactors and philanthropists wasn’t a mandate but the only tool to keep the heartbeat of the community running.
    With more modest means the schools survived and reproduced generations of Armenians that are nurturing further generations now, all over the world, specially in Los Angeles. Somehow the reasons stated in the closure statement of the AGBU High school of Pasadena chapter are not fit with the characteristics and the mission of this huge philanthropic organization that non profit had for decades. And certainly demoralizing that the highly educated leadership body wasn’t able to outreach families with well economic background who could afford the tuition fees. Blaming it on the increasing number of financial aid applications is demeaning. It is certainly categorizing those who are applying to attend Armenian day schools. Could it be that the high school wasn’t able to offer a strong curriculum that stands out among other Armenian and other private schools right away? Could it be that the administrative committee wasn’t skillful enough to come up with youth outreach plans while being so close to highly Armenian populated cities, Glendale, La Crescenta, and other areas of the San Fernando Valley?
    The reasoning that the public doesn’t want full time Armenian instruction as much as before is definitely a clue to the other obstacles.
    When we don’t have the generation interested in full time Armenian education then who will be the generation interested in attending that Armenian cultural center ?

    • Anniei Ashrafian said:

      Oh Alice, your words moved me. You are spot on!!!! They could have recruited all the low hanging fruits and transitioned all the part time Armenian students into full time. Armenian schools that feel empowered by their hegemony on only teaching the Armenian studies in one dialect, leave behind a large number of students out. If the enrollment is down, than think of ways to attract them in. Thank you for your thoughts.

  3. Mariam Pashayan said:

    I guess Community Center is going to be more profitable. At the end of the day it is business, nothing else. Are you telling me they couldn’t attract new students for the school with the right marketing approach? And they call themselves AGBU? Very disappointing. By this decision, they killed the spirits of their students. Bureaucracy! No other word comes to my mind.

  4. Liza said:

    It’s a shame that my kid’s school is closing it’s doors. It’s a shame that this much needed high school in Pasadena is ending it’s mission. An everyday school is much more needed than a cultural center for our next generation. This school is one of the wealthiest school and I can’t understand why this decision has been taken.

    • Anniei Ashrafian said:

      I’m truly heartbroken for you and your child. I’ve beeb praying nonstop for our future. I feel lost as my children were going to attend in a few years. The other two schools near Pasadena are not an option for us. You can’t put kids on a bus for hours a day just to go to school. It won’t work. Pasadena has the numbers and should support the school. Other private schools in the area are at the min $1000 and up. They should have given the parents the chance to at least pay more. I shall continue to keep you guys in our hearts.

  5. Anniei Ashrafian said:

    So long as ALL & ANY ARMENIAN SCHOOLS IN LA, do not include EASTERN ARMENIAN DIALECT IN THERE PROGRAM, you will continue to lose numbers and warm bodies. This is fundamentally what is wrong with Armenian schools that think it’s find to force families like mine to learn Western Armenian. Why? Why should I? I don’t speak it. I don’t know why there are two T’s, two B’s, two P’s and so on. You should see when I’m trying to get my son to write in Armenian. It’s a constant battle!!!! “Mom which T is it? Which B is it? I’m so upset over this news. I had spoken to someone from this school and inquired if they taught Eastern Armenian. She tells me that oh there’s no need. Here we allow kids to write and speak however they want. WTF? How? How do you do that? This is exactly why your doors are closing. Shame on you guys!!!!!!! institutions like these are what our children’s need for the future. If only all the political BS was set aside for one moment and the children were thought of first. I’m absolutely disgusted by this decision. HIRE EASTERN ARMENIAN TEACHERS AND YOU WOULD HAVE HAD ALL THE CHAMLIAN STUDENTS AFTER 8th grade, but no all the ellah mellah’s can’t have that and have to force my children to say Parev. Whatever! Cry me a river!!!!!!

  6. Anniei Ashrafian said:

    My apologies for not spell checking my above post. It posted before I could edit the message. It’s 4 am and clearly I’m an insomniac tonight. Lol not over the news just upset at how easily this situation could have been resolved.
    Worthy of mentioning, my cousins and brothers after attending Chamlian all had to consider, what to do next? Had there been an Armenian High School that had Eastern Armenian studies, all of us would have naturally continued on there instead of going to ODDAR schools after 8th grade. This of course is going to happen to my own children. AGBU in Pasadena was our families natural choice. Even though I don’t know what my kids were going to do once they had a Western Armenian teacher again. Both my kids had been forced to learn Western for 8 years. Please I hope that everyone who sees my message respects my frustration. It’s not that I don’t think one dialect is better or the correct one, it’s that everyone should have a choice. It would be the same if our schools only provided Eastern Armenian studies and all Western Armenian families were forced to learn the Eastern Armenian dialect and no longer had two p’s and b’s and so forth.
    Anyways, I’ve said my peace.
    PS why Canoga Park? Don’t they already have a high school in the valley?
    Honestly, shame on all of those who didn’t hire a few qualified Eastern Armenian teachers and then you would have had the $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$!!!
    God I’m pissed! I do not want my children attending none Armenian schools. Certainly, not even a private one. Pilibos is our only option now. God help us.

  7. Gaidzag Shahbazian said:

    Very disappointing and a shame. Without Armenian school, the next generation will not be interested in attending any Armenian cultural center.

  8. Telo & Co. said:

    it is clear from comments such as Ms. Ashrafyans’ that we have a long way to go before E and W Armenian dialects will be tolerated by the two groups who speak one over the other. Now Ms. Ashrafyan knows what countless repatriating families in the 1940s had to go through when they lived beside local Armenians who hated their W. Armenian dialects. They all were forcibly assimilated into an Eastern Armenian speaking environment. There was no option to choose in Soviet Armenia and there is no option to choose in independent Armenia, either. Yes – both dialects should be taught in ALL schools. If they are not, please establish an Eastern Armenian speaking day school in California.

  9. Mike Youssefian said:

    I am so sad to hear this sad news. AGBU is the richest organization in our nation. What went wrong with the leadership of the organization. They spent millions to build a school in Armenia. Armenia is full of schools, Vatche Manoukian High School is the only institution serving the youths of our nation in Pasadena. I spent my precious time as an architect to prepare the building for a school. I did it for free. I founded an elementary school in Pasadena for our children. I am not AGBU. I dont have millions in my bank account, but I believed what I was doing, and we survived 40 years and still going. Are the leaders of AGBU going to kill the Armenian spirit in the Armenian youth?. It is a laughable proposal to carry 2-300 students from Pasadena to another school tens of miles away. Why don’t they add the expenses paid to the buses to the school budget. Why. Stop hating the Armenian new generation. Most of them will go to public schools and end up in associating themselves with children from several backgrounds and morals. Come to your senses. Leave the Vatche Manoukian School alone. Try to fool others for your unwise decision.

  10. Harutyun Tersakyan said:


  11. Mike said:

    there has been systematic school closer policy by Berge Setrakian not AGBU but only and only decision taker is Berge Setrakian alone!!!
    like godfather mafia he is deciding to close all the school, in los angels , Toronto, Beirut,Cyprus 11 in total, all was one man behind this move and he is name is Berge Setrakian !!! school closer is white genocide because your children from Armenian roots!!!
    time came Berge Setrakian to give his resignation immediately ! like mafia style Berge Setrakian closed over 11 schools and no one ,no one dare to talk today. YOU HAVE TO GO Berge Setrakian !!! YOU ARE LIKE Serzh Sargsyan!!!

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