VAN NUYS–Students at Grant High School–scene of long-running tensions between Armenian and Latino students–signed a peace treaty Thursday during a gathering attended by classmates–school administrators–area politicians and community representatives.
The event–organized by Grant High School and in consultation with various community organizations–among them the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region–attracted several high-level local and state officials who turned out to express support for the peace initiative.
Problems escalated in October when a fight broke out between Latino and Armenian students–prompting school officials to suspend several students and begin a community outreach program.
"It’s not about me–it’s not about the politicians–it’s not about anyone but the students at Grant High School," principal Joe Walker told the assembly.
Also present to express encouragement to the students were Rep. Howard Berman and California Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante who talked about the importance of respecting diversity. Also participating in the event were Arsine Hovannisian–representing the Committee for Armenian Students in Public Schools–Zaven Sinanian–Armenian community Liaison for California Attorney General Bill Lockyer and Paul Krekorian–candidate for the 43rd Assembly District.
One representatives from each third-period class at the 3,500-student school attended the ceremony and each was mandated to return Friday with a copy of the agreement for their classmates’ signatures.
Armenian Club president Asmik Tantoushian was among the students who signed the cooperative agreement–which pledges the students’ support for multi-ethnic activities at the school aimed at improving race relations.
"I believe that the signing of this agreement is a positive step in easing the tensions at Grant High School," said ANCA-WR Board member Souzi Zerounian-Khanzadian–adding that "the agreement could serve as a model for other schools experiencing similar issues."
ANCA-WR representatives held a separate meeting with the Grant High School Armenian Club following the assembly to further discuss racial cooperation and tolerance.