Blair Dance Group at Armenian Academy (Photo – PUSD)

Pasadena Unified’s Armenian Academy First of Its Kind


PASADENA, Calif. ( —The Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) is not only celebrating Armenian independence this week [third week of September], they are celebrating the creation of exemplary Armenian world language programs.

It has been only two years since PUSD took a chance on creating the Armenian Academy at Blair High School, an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School. This program is the first of its kind in the world, attracting students throughout Pasadena and beyond. What has happened during those two years has been nothing less than outstanding, as students from 17 different cities have flocked to the innovative and tuition-free program, growing the enrollment at an impressive pace.

David Ibarra, former principal of Blair, an IB World School, who welcomed the incorporation of the Armenian Academy and who now serves as the district coordinator for Dual Language and International Baccalaureate programs, couldn’t be more pleased with the success.

“It has been extremely rewarding to see the Academy grow and expand so quickly. The Armenian Academy fits perfectly with Blair because of the International Baccalaureate program and alignment with the world school focus. I’m proud to say that the Armenian Academy is a staple of the fabric at Blair High School.”

PUSD Superintendent, Dr. Brian McDonald, visiting Webster Elementary (Photo – PUSD)

Armenian Academy Advisory Board Chair Maro Yacoubian, who worked closely with the district to help create the program, sees a bright future for the community and Blair: “Our team, from the first day, was striving to reach lofty goals while others were paralyzed by the pandemic. We set our sights on creating the first International Baccalaureate Course in Armenian Literature in the world outside of Armenia and we did it. This past May, our IB diploma candidates tested and scored very well, including one a student with a perfect exam result.”

Norayr Daduryan, the lead teacher for the Armenian Academy, was instrumental in establishing the IB Armenian Literature Course. He worked to develop the curriculum and secure approval from the International Baccalaureate Organization and the University of California.

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“The IB Armenian course has been a crossroads of cultures and places in two dynamic ways: the students study world classics (English, Spanish, Persian, French literature) in the Armenian language, and also assess and analyze pieces of Armenian literature from the perspective of global themes. The IB Armenian course has started to bring distant geographies and cultures together in Pasadena,” Daduryan explained.

Webster Elementary is now offering the very first elementary Armenian world language program in PUSD. It provides one daily Armenian Language Arts class per grade level and the remainder of the student’s instructional day will include classes conducted in English. All language immersion classes will be taught by fully-credentialed bilingual teachers who have additional preparation and expertise in teaching Armenian.

“We are excited about the possibilities for the program in serving not only the students of Armenian descent but students from different cultural backgrounds as well,” stated PUSD Superintendent Brian McDonald.

He added: “I was heartened to see students of different ethnicities and backgrounds in our first cohort at Webster and the enthusiasm they displayed for learning the Armenian language. I am truly grateful to the administrators, teachers, and staff and to parent leaders such as Maro Yacoubian who have worked tirelessly to make this program a reality.”

Families interested in learning more about the Armenian Academy (6th-12th) and joining a tour can fill out an application for the 2023-2024 school year at Students from any city are welcome.

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