English Language Arts
The English Language Arts uses curriculum based on the California Standards. All the adopted materials have extensive supplemental materials for struggling and advanced learners. Within the umbrella of English Language Arts, each student is assessed on Vocabulary/Spelling, Reading & Listening Comprehension, Speech/Performance, Writing, and Grammar. The K-5 English department adopted, The Reading Street, a new textbook series. Moreover, in order to enhance the vocabulary wealth of our students, K-8 classes systematically utilize the Wordly Wise series as an enrichment supplement.
This department also relies extensively on the practices of Los Angeles Writing Project and the National Writing Project. Furthermore, all K-8 students have been presented with an annual assessment that provide a wide range of writing prompts that promote grade-level genres and forms. Depending on grade level, students are permitted up to 120 minutes to respond to one of the prompts. This assessment correlates with the awareness that the school’s standardized test (CTB TerraNova) does not measure student writing.
In the Middle School, the Education Committee and the Administration has adopted thematic Novel based learning. Moreover, a separate poetry class is offered to middle school students. This class perpetuates the notion of writing and reciting poetry.
Throughout the academic year, each grade level is required to take a field trip that celebrates some aspect of Language Arts (e.g., theatrical productions based on stories and novels, both local and Los Angeles Central Library events, ALOUD series from Library Foundation of LA, etc.). The school’s librarian also invites local authors to talk about their craft.
Finally, students are encouraged to participate in various writing competitions; For example, the Armenian Allied Arts Association’s Annual Competitions and the Armenian Student Associations’ (ASA Inc.) Arthur Halvajian Memorial Armenian Poetry Project Competition. Every semester both the English and Armenian Language Arts department publishes Illumination, a literary journal celebrating student writing at its best.
For almost a decade, K-5 grade students used Everyday Math as their primary textbook. The middle school grades used various Math programs, but primarily Glencoe, McGraw-Hill. In the 2012-2013 academic year, middle school and 5th grade switched to Saxon Mathematics textbooks because it provided two significant possibilities. First, Saxon math closely correlated to the Math section of the CTB TerraNova. Middle school data showed students performing better on the standardized test because of the change in textbook. Second, Saxon promotes learning of mathematics incrementally; it involves teaching a new mathematical concept every day and continuously reviewing old concepts. Both middle school teachers and students saw the benefits in this approach and the noticeable success. Therefore, during the summer of 2013, the faculty and the Education Committee decided to switch K-4 curriculum from Everyday Math to Saxon Math. Another noteworthy revelation occurred when we realized our K-8 students are one academic year ahead of what Saxon Math offers. Since our students are exposed to mathematics in Pre-Kindergarten, by the time they commence Kindergarten, they are already one academic year ahead. Therefore, our Kindergarteners utilize the 1st grade math textbook and progressively our 8th grade students use the 9th grade Algebra textbook. Finally, based on these facts, the majority of our students have enrolled in advanced math classes once they have entered private or public high schools.
The Social Studies department offers courses based on the Common Core Social Science standards. Again, the Education Committee decided to invest in a new Social Studies series, My World History (Pearson), in the 2012-2013 academic year. The following was the rationale behind the critical switch: First, our previous textbooks were in need of upgrading. Second, the new textbooks follow the Common Core Standards. Finally, the new textbooks have a technology component that elevates the engagement of students.
The Social Studies department also advocates the utilization of field trips. In addition to the standard local educational field trips (e.g., San Gabriel Mission, La Brea Tar Pits, Pasadena, Museum of History, Olvera Street, Japanese American National Museum, Pacific Asian Museum, Nixon and Reagan Presidential Libraries and Museums, etc.), the 5th-8th grade students take extensive bicoastal trips. These trips occur in subsequent academic years.
In 2011-2012 academic year, the school inaugurated the West Coast Coach Bus Trip that took students, parents, and teachers up the coast of California to Sacramento and back to Los Angeles by the way of Central and Mountain Regions of California. This five-day trip, organized by the Principal, allowed students to visit Santa Barbara Mission, Hearst Castle, San Francisco (Alcatraz Island, California Academy of Sciences), Charles M. Schulz Museum, Sacramento (the Governor’s Mansion, California State Capitol Building), Lake Tahoe, Mammoth Lakes, Mono Lake, Death Valley, and Manzanar National Historic Site, before returning home. All students are required to make a collage project.
The East Coast Trip takes students from Boston to Washington, D.C., the nation’s capital. Along the way, students, parents, and teachers, visit New York City and Philadelphia. The Principal serves as the tour guide as he takes students to famous historical sites in all four major cities (e.g., John F. Kennedy & Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Libraries and Museums, Harvard, Ellis Island, Statue Liberty, Tenement Houses on the Lower East Side, Independence Hall, U.S. Capitol, the White House, all the famous memorials, etc.). Students are advised to retain important memorabilia throughout the trip, and are tasked with creating a scrapbook upon their return. Finally, at least two months are dedicated to prep students for these East and West Coast trips.
All science department courses use a standards-based, hands-on curriculum. The textbooks, California Science (Pearson-Scott Foresman) series for Grades K-5, and the newer textbooks, Interactive Science series, for 6th-8th grades (Pearson), advocate and provide both technology and ELL component that teachers utilize. These are California Standards-based textbooks.
The Science department is blessed to have a state of the art Science Lab that was donated by a generous family during the summer of 2013. This facility is being utilized primarily by the middle school students, which allows them ample room to do experiments and hands-on activities. In the near future, the science lab will be furnished with a Smart Board and tech-friendly microscopes.
The middle school science department advocates science fairs. A middle school in-house science fair competition (on Open House) leads to both the L.A. County Science Fair and the Armenian Science Olympiad. As a curricular requirement, all middle school students are given the opportunity to participate in the Armenian Scientists and Engineers of America (AESA) Science Olympiad and the L.A. County Science Fair. AESA also provides mentors to assist students with their science fair projects.
The Science department also advocates the utilization of field trips. Each grade level attempts to reserve at least one science-related field trip during an academic year. Our students have ventured to the Griffith Park Observatory, The California Science Center, The Sea Watershed Education Program sponsored by the Friends of the Los Angeles River (FoLAR), Kidspace Children’s Museum, and Discovery Science Center. The Science department also invites special guests or groups to promote the sciences in school; for example, Mr. Arbi Karapetian from JPL’s Curiosity Rover team, Mr. Louis Pearl’s the Amazing Bubble Man, and Captain Carl’s Mobile Tide pool.
Armenian Language Arts
The Armenian Language Arts offers a rigorous K-8 curriculum based on Mer Lezoun “Our Language” textbook series published by the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America. Hayots Badmootyoon is utilized by the 2nd and 3rd grade students. Middle School students also use a supplemental textbook Hye Mshagouyt “Armenian Culture” authored by Vatche Mankerian. Within the umbrella of Armenian Language Arts, each student is assessed on Vocabulary/Spelling, Reading & Listening Comprehension, Speech/Performance, Writing, and Grammar.
Since the school has a number of families that struggle with the Armenian language, the Education Committee finds it apropos to offer Armenian as Second Language (ASL). Within the K-5 grades, an aide assists the Armenian teacher in the classroom if there are students that need additional support. The middle school students have a separate ASL classroom with a teacher that caters to the individual student’s need. At various academic years, the school has offered remedial and advanced Armenian classes for middle school students. This department also relies extensively on the practices of Los Angeles Writing Project and the National Writing Project. Furthermore, all K-8 students participate in the annual writing assessment that provides each student a wide range of writing prompts that promotes grade-level genres and forms. Depending on grade level, students are permitted up to 120 minutes to respond to one of the prompts.
Based on the Expected Schoolwide Learning Results, the Armenian department celebrates and empowers K-8 students to appreciate Armenian cultural traditions, heritage, and language. Thus, Armenian department teachers actively engage K-8 students during important Armenian cultural events; they prepare public celebrations to commemorate special events. These programs involve each grade level with recitations, orations, songs, musical numbers, and theatrical performances.
Also, every academic year, each grade level takes frequent field trips that promote some aspect of the Armenian culture and language (e.g., theatrical productions, film presentations, dance and musical events, etc.). The school’s Armenian department also invites local authors, theatrical companies, filmmakers, musical groups, political leaders, philanthropic groups to address the students about their Armenian heritage.
Finally, students are encouraged to participate in various academic and writing competitions (e.g., the Armenian Timeline Competition, the Armenian Allied Arts Association’s Annual Competitions, Diocesan Essay Competition, and the Armenian Relief Society’s Writing Competition. Every semester both the English and Armenian Language Arts department publishes Illumination, a literary journal celebrating student writing at its best.