In the last few days, Armenians in Los Angeles were in a state of shock after learning about the decision to close the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) Pasadena Vache and Tamar Manoukian High School. Social media pages have been flooded with comments, with many protesting the decision, expressing their dismay and outrage. These reactions were normal and expected, given that the fate of an Armenian educational institution concerns every Armenian who is worried about the upbringing and future of our young generation, especially in this country, where preservation of the Armenian identity is a daily struggle and a nightmare.
The main reasons given by the AGBU Central Board and the school’s board of trustees, are the financial losses and dropping enrollment rates. Many people find these justifications to be very unconvincing. There are no Armenian schools or organizations in the Diaspora that are financially self-sufficient. All of our organizations run budget deficits, which are covered through other means of fundraising. As for the decrease in the number of students, this is a fluctuating factor that can change from year to year.
AGBU is the largest educational and philanthropic organization throughout the Armenian Diaspora. It enjoys a great deal of respect and is held in high regard in the Diaspora and Armenia. This appreciation has been earned thanks to the hard work and dedication of its leadership, over the many decades. The mission of the Armenian school has always been a priority for AGBU, to help young generations stay close to their roots, preserve the Armenian language, rich culture and national traditions.
Pasadena is one of the most vibrant cities in the Diaspora. All our political, cultural, religious and other organizations have their own centers in Pasadena, and are active within the community. The AGBU Complex and the Vache and Tamar Manoukian High School are important fixtures in the city. The daily presence of young Armenian students provides a sense of vitality and glimmer to the AGBU Center. In their absence, a large void will be felt within that environment.
We are confident that the concerns and complaints that have been raised in recent days are being addressed by the AGBU leadership and hope that necessary steps will be taken to reconsider the decision for the school’s closure.