BURBANK—Armenian National Committee of America, Burbank representatives Silva Kechichian and Sarkis Simonian, and Armenian Cultural Foundation liaison Antranik Jarchafjian met with February 4 with Burbank Unified School District Superintendent Matt Hill to discuss ways of advancing the collaborative efforts and the partnerships between the two parties.
Superintendent Matt Hill presented the general state of the school district and discussed the financial challenges confronting the district. We also learned from Dr. Hill that BUSD has roughly 2000 Armenian students and that about 20-30% of the employees are Armenian. He also informed us that both Burbank High School and John Burroughs High School have Armenian Student Associations (ASAs).
Among the many items discussed during the meeting was the possibility of launching a diversity and cultural sensitivity program for BUSD teachers. In the past, BUSD had a cultural sensitivity program for teachers through the Armenian Genocide Institute, and we recommended launching the program again. Dr. Hill welcomed the idea as a voluntary workshop and indicated that the school district had incorporated the Armenian Genocide curriculum in their program across the board. He also welcomed the idea of workshops through the Armenian Genocide Institute for all World History teachers, which would also provide teachers with supplemental books and course materials to be used in the classroom.
Additionally, we also suggested creating a service learning/volunteering program for BUSD students to earn school credit while working for ANCA-B in providing services to the community. Superintendent Hill agreed to further explore the idea with school principals and counselors.
We also informed Dr. Hill about ANCA Burbank’s participation in the upcoming genocide vigil on April 16 at Burbank City Hall and the wider commemoration events on April 24th. We discussed giving students who participate in the April 16th vigil extra credit for their involvement with proof from ANCA Burbank chapter. Superintendent Hill assured us that students absent to commemorate the Armenian Genocide on April 24 will not be penalized.
In response to some friction due to cultural issues at some of the schools, ANCA-B representatives offered to also meet with High School principals to discuss the needs of the schools and how we can help. As a follow up on this issue, ANCA-B and ACF representatives held a meeting with Burbank High School principal, Dr. Michael Bertram, and BUSD Superintendent Matt Hill on February 25. We discussed the variety of ways to collaborate. The ANCA-Burbank Chapter also offered to have meetings with parents, ASA’s and to invite the Commission on Human Relations to organize a forum, invite professionals, cultural representatives and community members and engage the parents and students with the goal of listening to the concerns and finding ways to overcome any challenges.
Dr Hill said, “We greatly appreciate the partnership with ANCA-Burbank and look forward to expanding that partnership,”
“We’re very pleased with what was accomplished through this meeting. In particular, the training program for teachers will be an excellent way to educate and better prepare these instructors to communicate with Burbank’s youth,” stated ANCA Burbank Chair, Silva Kechichian.
The Armenian National Committee of America – Burbank advances the social, economic, cultural and political rights of the area’s Armenian American community and promotes increased Armenian American civic participation at the grassroots and public policy levels.