One of the highlights of the 2012-2013 academic year was the gardening program that the Administration implemented with the assistance of the PTO. This 325 ft² outdoor space has provided hands-on instructional opportunities for our K-8 students. It has also supported other core subjects by incorporating Language Arts, Sciences, Math, and Social Science standards into its developing curriculum. To legitimize the program, the Administration hired a University of California Master Gardener, Mr. Nico Anduze, who has worked with the LAUSD Network for a Healthy California, to develop and deliver garden-based nutrition education program. Moreover, Huntington Botanical Garden provided a professional development series for primary and secondary educators and covered the following topics: garden planning, gardening techniques, and curriculum connections. Classes included classroom instruction, hands-on activities, practice in an outdoor garden space, and free materials. Also, the California Agriculture in the Classroom (AITC) awarded the Administration a grant to attend the 2012 AITC Conference in Sacramento to further develop the school’s gardening program.
Once a week, students from grades K-8 attend Bible-centered, character development classes approved or instructed by the parish priest, Fr. Sarkis Petoyan. He offers solutions based on Biblical truths. In addition, every Wednesday morning, all K-8 students congregate in the Calusdian-Dunaians Hall as Fr. Sarkis introduces the Word(s) of the Week in a short sermon, addressing both spiritual and character development issues. Moreover, His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian (or one of the Diocesan priests) conducts monthly school visitations and delivers special messages for the students and faculty. Once a year, the Archbishop invites our middle school students to the Diocese in Burbank to discuss spiritual issues (e.g. temptation, faithfulness) that plagues the youth.
To further the liturgical understanding of students, each Friday afternoon, during Study Hall, a designated group (lower elementary, upper elementary or middle school) attend chapel to participate in an abbreviated worship service according to the canons and traditions of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Furthermore, the first Sunday of the month, students and parents from selected three consecutive grades (e.g., 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades) attend the Mass service where Fr. Sarkis dedicates the sermon specifically to the students. Finally, the Friday before the Christmas and Easter break, all students partake in the Holy Communion administered by the parish priest and a representative from the Diocese.