By Charly SHELTON
Though the community planning meetings to determine the new school calendar are already completed, some people are still petitioning for changes and days off. At the monthly Glendale Unified School District board of education meeting on Tuesday, one topic of much discussion from the public comments revolved around the possibility of a school holiday for Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day.
“GUSD has been instrumental in getting April 24 recognized as a day off for students and teachers to observe the Armenian Genocide [Remembrance Day],” said Gev Iskadjian, Community Outreach coordinator of the Armenian National Committee of America, Glendale chapter. “And I want to thank you for those efforts.”
This is not a new suggestion. At the planning meeting held in Crescenta Valley High School’s auditorium on Feb. 23, the public was asked to comment on what they want to see in an updated and possibly restructured school calendar beginning in the 2017-18 school year. Two suggestions offered under different topics mentioned the desire to take April 24 as a “local holiday” for Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day.
“On behalf of the community, I am here to speak in favor of the resolution and in an effort to recognize April 24 as a district wide holiday throughout all of the Glendale Unified School District so that teachers, administrators, faculty and staff can all have the due respect and time to observe the holiday,” Iskadjian said. “This is an effort not initiated by us, but by the community for the community.”
Last month, 20 students from the district hit the streets to gather signatures and gauge support for the possible local holiday. Within hours, they had received nearly 1,000 signatures in support of the day off. Some of the students who did the canvassing were in attendance at the board meeting to show their support.
“We got hundreds of signatures and we really felt the support of the community,” said Audrey Josephburg, Glendale High School senior. “Glendale is an Armenian dominated community and a city in which the Armenian communities are devoted in fighting for our cause. We must honor the 1.5 million people who gave their lives and must pay respect to those on April 24.”
Another student, Perenia Alaverdian, president of Armenian Club at Clark Magnet High School, echoed her support from La Crescenta as well.
“We believe that honoring this day is a sign of respect for the community and it should be observed by students, staff and administration,” Alaverdian said.
Because this is an issue that is important to many throughout the district it cannot be dealt with in a single meeting. It will be part of the discussion among the committee members to decide the forthcoming school calendars. The committee, made up of district employees and community representatives, will meet several times over the upcoming weeks to work out a compromise and try to give as many people as possible a workable schedule.
But, as co-Superintendent Dr. Marc Winger said at the calendar planning meeting, instruction comes first and, as with any compromise, not everyone will get exactly what they want.
The interest is present, and it remains to be seen if the district calendar will be able to accommodate April 24 as a school-free holiday.
“We ask the district to honor this as a holiday for schools as a form of respect for those who died and to those still fighting after 100 years,” Josephburg said. “We are a prime example as we are standing here right now, still fighting.”