To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, eighth-graders and first-graders at Vahan & Anoush Chamlian Armenian School planted 100 forget-me-not flowers in garden beds on the La Crescenta campus, Glendale News-Press reports.
Thirteen-year-old Ara Yacoubian, student council president at the K-8 school, said the eighth-graders wanted to involve the first-graders in planting the flowers so the younger students can watch the plants grow as time goes by.
The flower is also a universal symbol this year among those living around the world who are part of the Armenian diaspora to commemorate the genocide where 1.5 million Armenians were massacred by the Ottoman Turks, beginning in 1915.
Chamlian’s eighth-graders are also preparing to travel to Armenia next week.
While Yacoubian traveled to Armenia as a small boy, he anticipates that returning this year will bring an entirely new perspective, especially after studying Armenian culture at Chamlian and graduating during the centennial year of the genocide.
He said the lessons he’s learned in school have been valuable.
“We’ve been taught about our stories, our writers, our songs,” Yacoubian said.
He added that going to Armenia means he’s doing a small part to commemorate the genocide, but he’s also part of a huge movement.
“It means, to me, that we have made a difference… us as eighth graders make a difference going to Armenia to pay homage to all our Armenian heroes, soldiers, really gives us a feeling of such pride, a wonderful feeling to know I had a part in this.”
Principal Talin Kargodorian also got her hands dirty Tuesday afternoon and planted flowers alongside the students.
“We really want to empower students to honor their past and, at the same time, we’re preparing them to be responsible and active members of their community,” she said. “Planting these flowers [is] wonderful [and] in remembrance of all their ancestors that passed away in the genocide. At the same time, [the first-graders] will be able for the next seven, eight years, to watch [the flowers] blossom, just as they will as Armenian Americans.”
Also on Tuesday, a group of fathers of Chamlian students announced their upcoming 3,000-mile endeavor to run and bike across the United States from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C.
They will begin the relay marathon in L.A. on April 24, and plan to arrive at the capital on May 7. Along the way, they hope to drum up awareness of the Armenian Genocide and other genocides that have occurred around the globe.
The idea for a cross-country trip came from Michael Markarian, who was inspired by the school’s annual walk/run to commemorate the genocide as parents and students go from Chamlian to St. Mary’s Armenian Apostolic Church.
“While I was running, I thought to myself, rather than concentrating on the Armenian community, why not educate the United States?” he told students on Tuesday. “And I thought… why not have a marathon relay starting in L.A. and ending up in D.C., and the whole point of it was to create some awareness outside of the Armenian community so that the American public knows what genocide is and allow them to be the judge and jury of what happened.”