Pasadena Unified to Offer Armenian Dual Language Immersion Program in 2020-2021

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PASADENA, Calif. (Pasadena Unified School District) – In response to community interest, the Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) Board of Education has approved a new Armenian Dual Language Immersion high school program for the 2020-2021 school year. The 9-12th grade program will be located at Blair School, home of the District’s  International Baccalaureate (IB) secondary school programs; students will have access to IB courses. Blair serves students in middle and high school and is composed of three adjacent campuses. Registration for the Armenian Dual Language Immersion Program begins April 6, 2020, at openenrollment.info

“This is a unique opportunity to expand PUSD’s bilingual and biliteracy academic options that now include our district’s first high school Armenian Dual Language Immersion Program,” said Superintendent Brian McDonald.  “The commitment that the parents and community have demonstrated by establishing a program that encourages families to remain in PUSD is remarkable, and I am pleased to welcome them to PUSD.”

PUSD currently offers Dual Language Immersion Programs in French, Mandarin, and Spanish.

To register, current PUSD students must submit an application between April 6 – 20, 2020, to enroll in the program. New-to-PUSD resident students and out-of-district students may apply online between April 6 through August 6, 2020.  Additional details are posted on PUSD’s Open Enrollment website at openenrollment.info 

Classes, including language immersion, will be taught by fully-credentialed bilingual teachers who have additional preparation and expertise in teaching Armenian. The program will be located at Blair School, which serves students in grades 6-12 and has vibrant International Baccalaureate programmes, an International Academy, a Health Careers Academy, and a Spanish Dual Language program.

Armenian DLIP will be open for students in grades 9-12. The model would be consistent with other DLIP high school programs in PUSD by offering one class per grade level when fully implemented at the high school level. The instructional model will follow the Guiding Principles for Dual Language Education. Staff will conduct additional planning and outreach to determine the selected program model for possible middle school and elementary school options, should the program expand in future years.

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The new Armenian Immersion Program will offer the following classes in 2020-21: Armenian I, Armenian II, Armenian III, and Armenian IV (subject to minimum student enrollment). As the program expands, PUSD plans to offer additional courses including Armenian Literature and Armenian History and Culture.

Language course placement will be determined by the student’s ability in the target language as well as prior course completion.

“This was the finest example of collaboration and partnership between the Armenian community and the Pasadena Unified School District,” said Maro Yacoubian, a community member who advocated for the creation of the program. “With the unwavering commitment from parents and community members, we have not only filled a void in the community but have also created a groundbreaking educational opportunity.”

“By establishing this academy, PUSD will have the distinct honor of having created the first Armenian Dual language, history/culture, with IB program in the nation,” said community member Goldie Gastjan. “This unique program will present the opportunity for students beyond Pasadena to attend this school. Our community families are anxiously waiting, and we see a very bright future.”

“I am thrilled with the Pasadena Unified School District’s vote of approval to establish an Armenian Dual Language Immersion program at Blair School, the first of its kind in the U.S.” said Arsine Shirvanian, a community member who advocated for the program.

A welcome and program event will be planned once schools reopen. The first day of school for PUSD students is August 17, 2020.

The approval is conditional upon enrollment in the program of 150 students who are new to PUSD and is expected to draw interest from Pasadena-area families, including students who were previously enrolled at a soon-to-close private high school. The program will be capped at 250 students in the first year. If the program does not meet enrollment projections, course offerings and the program location are subject to change.

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