Above, from left, Local District Northeast Superintendent Linda Del Cueto, Mexican Consul Press Attache Sergio Tovar, Armenian Consul Armella Shakaryan, Interim Superintendent Vivian Ekchian, School Board Member Scott Schmerelson, Mexican Consul Andrés Webster and Grant High Principal Vicky Damonte.
Top dignitaries from the Mexican and Armenian consulates joined Thursday with L.A. Unified leaders in celebrating their rich and varied cultures during student assemblies that celebrated the growing bond between the two communities.
Musicians and dancers performed at Grant High School in Van Nuys, where about 900 of the 2,000 students are Latino and 700 are Armenian. Students also heard from Armenian Consul Armella Shakaryan and Mexican Consul Andrés Webster, who encouraged them to focus on the similarities rather than the differences of their cultures.
“We are coming here to this school to see how our communities can develop, and that having a proud culture is how human beings can be better,” Webster said.
Shakaryan urged students to be open to working together to collectively solve challenges that may arise when cultures clash or conflicts arise.
“Put your best effort into everything you do,” she said. “Make us all proud. Commit yourself to tolerance.”
Thursday’s assemblies at Grant and similar events planned Friday at Madison Middle School in North Hollywood are among the events planned by the consulates during Mexican-Armenian Cultural Week.
School Board Member Scott Schmerelson welcomed the kids in both Spanish and Armenian, and then encouraged them to expose themselves to all possible cultures, explaining that the experience will enrich them the rest of their lives.
Interim Superintendent Vivian Ekchian, who is of Armenian heritage, welcomed the dignitaries, noting that the event joining the Latino and Armenian communities was the first that she had experienced in her 32 years with the District. She also spoke to the students about the the importance of communication in resolving conflict.
“The immense responsibility is yours to bring your personal best to school every day,” she said. “Your personal best means that you have to include yourself and empathize with everyone in every situation … You have to use communication to overcome any kind of obstacle or barrier that exists at the school site or outside of school.”