GLENDALE, CA–On December 11, the Glendale Unified School District (GUSD) and the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) teamed up to bring together Armenian students from both public and private high schools in a unique workshop tailored specifically for student leaders.
Held at the the GUSD Development Center, the workshop gave participants not only the opportunity to interact and connect with one another, but also to attain the skills necessary to lead their campus club activities more effectively.
“This workshop is one of the many steps we intend to take to reach out to Armenian students in local high schools and build stronger ties with Armenian clubs,” said David Arakelyan, a member of the AYF Central Executive and a key organizer of the event. “Projects like this help us emphasize the importance of working together with various community organizations for the benefit of our youth and people at large.”
Over 8 high schools throughout Southern California showed up for the early Saturday morning event. Both Armenian Club executives from public high schools and student government members from private Armenian high schools took part in the numerous presentations and exercises aimed at strengthening the skills they would need in guiding their activities.
The program began with students being divided into groups and connecting with their peers from other high schools. They were then given an interactive presentation by Kathy Fundukian Thorossian, Assistant Superintendent at GUSD, which focused on developing clear leadership goals and objectives. Methods for best implementing a vision were also offered, as Thorossian connected these techniques with those of inspirational figures such as Nelson Mandela.
“This was a great opportunity to bring together the Armenian American students from public and private schools in a workshop to strengthen our communication and leadership skills,” said Greg Krikorian, GUSD Board Member and one of the presenters at the event. “It is vital that we equip our youth with the tools and the understanding to strive for not only justice and education, but also fighting denial and assimilation.” Krikorian’s presentation touched on many of these issues as he discussed the importance of achieving goals without straying away from larger social and community responsibilities.
AYF Alumnus and longtime community activist Aram Kaloustian also delivered a presentation, wherein he discussed the characteristics that make a good leader. He was followed by Arek Santikian, AYF Chairman Arek Santikian, who talked about concrete strategies for how to strengthen an organization, offering many of his own personal experiences as a member of the AYF.
“This leadership workshop—and hopefully more such workshops to come in the future—are very important for our community’s youth in so many ways,” stated Kaloustian following the program. “The attendees themselves benefit from the desire to better themselves as individuals,” he explained, pointing out that investing their own time on an early Saturday morning to learn such skills was itself a demonstration of their commitment. “But beyond that, beyond the individual gain, accomplishment, and activism, there is also an important community-wide component. Not only the Armenian Community (which is the common denominator in this case), but also every community that was represented (Glendale, Burbank, Montebello, Pasadena, La Cresenta, Los Angeles, etc.).”
Between presentations, students were also given the opportunity to socialize in an ice breaker, during which they exchanged ideas about their different experiences in the schools they attend and the organizations they engage with. Since the participants of the workshop were broken up into groups, they were able to reach beyond their own campus circles and discover common interests with students of other high schools.
“I really enjoyed being a part of this workshop, not only because I learned about what a great leader possesses, but because I met new friends that had similar interests as me,” said Rose and Alex Pilibos high school student Taron Torossian. “There were many speakers that not only taught me what a good leader is but inspired to be an influential one as well.”
“I think those that attended and are running a club on their campus really learned a lot,” added Ani Nazaryan of Clark Magnet High School. “We should have more events like this in the future. It really motivated me into taking the extra step forward to becoming a better leader.”