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Schools Seek Money to Study Culture of Armenians

November 27, 1986|ROY H. CAMPBELL | Times Staff Writer

Citing a ballooning population of Armenian students, the Glendale Unified School District has asked $8,330 to start an Armenian cultural awareness program in the public schools.

The district is seeking the money from the Glendale-based American Educational Foundation for books, filmstrips and posters, most of which will center on Armenian history, art and culture.

Some of the materials would be used for a class to be taught two days a week after regular school hours for fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders at Horace Mann Elementary School. The voluntary-attendance class would be open to any interested students.

The national foundation was organized in 1950 to help finance Armenian private schools in the United States and abroad. But, with more and more Armenians attending public schools, the foundation recently opened its nearly $2-million endowment to those institutions.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday December 4, 1986 Home Edition Glendale Part 9 Page 3 Column 6 Zones Desk 1 inches; 20 words Type of Material: Correction
In an article that appeared Nov. 27, the Armenian Educational Foundation was incorrectly identified as the American Educational Foundation.

Shortage of Armenian Materials

"There is a problem in the public schools in that the bilingual program has a shortage of Armenian materials. We would like to help rectify that," said Art Aykanian, foundation president.

He said the organization will consider the grant request at its board meeting Tuesday, but will probably not vote on the matter for at least another month.

Since 1983, the Armenian student population in the Glendale school district has nearly doubled. The 1,800 students constitute the second-largest ethnic group of the district's 20,000 pupils. Latinos, with 4,532 students, make up the largest ethnic group.

Statistics compiled for the state indicate that nearly half of the district's Armenian students do not speak English fluently. The largest number of these students is in the elementary schools, where much of the proposed program would be directed.

Alice Petrossian, district coordinator of intercultural education, said the increase in Armenian students has come so fast that the district has not been able to provide enough cultural support.

Helping Children Adjust

"This money is needed to help these children adjust," she said. "They come to us with varied experiences, varied backgrounds and a variety of needs. Our job is to now find a way to best serve them."

In its application for the grant, the district said Armenian students now have "unequal educational opportunities" because of the lack of materials.

District officials are hoping the undertaking will encourage Armenian students to read more about their heritage and to motivate other students to use the materials to better understand their Armenian classmates.

The district's concern for its Armenian students is the latest manifestation of an influx of immigrants to the area. Glendale's Armenian population, which was estimated at about 2,000 in 1975, has increased tenfold in the last decade, mostly because of a wave of immigrants who left Iraq, Iran and Lebanon in large numbers when trouble exploded in the Middle East.

The massive immigration has brought with it a boom in Armenian cultural, educational and political organizations in Glendale. The city has several Armenian newspapers and businesses, a large Armenian church and an American-born mayor, Larry Zarian, with an Armenian heritage.

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