<< Back to results

AGBU Manoogian - Demirdjian School 
Institution name:
Address: 6844 Oakdale Avenue
Canoga Park, CA 91306
Telephone: (818) 883-8353
Web address: http://www.agbumds.org/index.jsp
Name: Hagop Hagopian
Title: Principal
Address: 6844 Oakdale Avenue
Canoga ParkCA  91306
Email: hhagopian@agbumds.org
Telephone: (818) 883-8353
Purposes and goals of the program:
The Manoogian-Demirdjian School's mission is to prepare students to succeed in the 21st century by offering a rigorous, comprehensive, college-preparatory curriculum and a variety of co-educational and extra-curricular programs that fulfill the needs of all students; to foster the skills, attitudes, and character traits essential for life-long learners in a technological, multicultural, global society; and to preserve the 3,000 year-old culture and identity of the Armenian people by teaching the Armenian language, literature, and history. Through the open interaction between the school and home, students are supported, challenged, and encouraged to achieve their highest potential, and to become responsible citizens and productive members of society.

AGBU Manoogian-Demirdjian School is owned and operated by the Armenian
General Benevolent Union, the largest Armenian philanthropic organization in the diaspora, operating 22 educational institutions in Armenian communities around the world. It offers a strong college preparatory program to all students, and core subjects are taught every year and enriched by a wide range of specialty subjects, electives and extracurricular classes. Honors and Advanced Placement courses are available for qualified students who may enroll in up to 13 Advanced Placement, college-level courses  throughout high school. Armenian language, culture and history constitute an integral part of the school curriculum. For high school students, Armenian language fulfills the foreign language requirement for college admission. Moreover, the school offers a preschool program for 2- 5 year old children. The interactive and hands-on learning experiences promote growth and development of social, emotional, cognitive and physical skills of youngchildren. The enriched bilingual curriculum enables them to acquire the knowledge and skills required to enter kindergarten.
Program origin:
Since its founding in 1906, the Armenian General Benevolent Union has recognized the vital role of education in the self-preservation and sustenance of the Armenian people and the Armenian cultural heritage establishing, funding and operating hundreds of schools in historic Armenia in the pre-1915 period and in the Diaspora after the 1920’s. As the Armenian community increased in southern California during the quarter century after World War II, so did the need for Armenian schools. In 1975, then AGBU Life President Mr. Alex Manoogian approved the proposal to establish an AGBU-sponsored school in southern California. A group of dedicated individuals representing the AGBU and St. Peter Armenian Apostolic Church formed an exploratory committee to lay the foundations of the new school, which opened its doors on the grounds of St. Peter Church in February 1976 with an enrollment of nineteen students and three teachers.

As enrollment continued to increase, reaching 300 students in 1985, the
search for a permanent school facility was initiated, once again enjoying the encouragement of Mr. Alex Manoogian. It was not an easy task to find a suitable location that would be geographically central as well as meet the present and future needs of the fledgling school. Fortunately, a closed-down public school in Canoga Park with a more centrally-located location was available for sale in early 1986 with a purchase price of three million dollars.   The prospect of a large, AGBU-owned school facility generated a great deal
of excitement in the community. Mr. Alex Manoogian added to the momentum by pledging two million dollars, provided the remaining one million would be raised by the community. The School Board, PTO and the
community mobilized their energies to achieve this great objective. Finally, the dream became reality with the purchase of the 6.3 acre school complex, located at 6844 Oakdale Avenue, Canoga Park, and the school moved to its permanent campus on July 1, 1986.

Noted philanthropists Mr. & Mrs. Sarkis and Seta Demirdjian of Lebanon
made a major donation of $1.25 million which, when added to the original
construction fund capital of $2.5 million donated by Mr. Alex Manoogian, was sufficient to bring the high school and parking phase of the expansion project to completion before school reopened in September, 1992. In recognition of the magnanimous donation of the Demirdjians, the middle and upper school division was renamed as Sarkis and Seta Demirdjian High School.

More information can be found at http://www.agbumds.org/apps/pages/index.jsp?uREC_ID=143136&type=d
Program funding:
Private donations, student tuition, support from the Armenian General Benevolent Union
Languages/dialects taught:
  • Armenian
  • Program type:  School-Based
         Grades taught: K-6
         Grades taught: 7-12
    Average enrollment:
    Total contact hours per week:
    Times per week classes meet:
    When meetings take place:
    Where meetings take place:
    Parents' or guardians' expectations of the program:
    Parents' or guardians' involvement in the program:
    Parents have the opportunity to join the Booster Club, the PTO, and a parent-student-teacher exhibition called Paradon, meant to showcase students' talents and Armenian heritage.
    Instructors' expectations of the program:
    Number of instructors in the program
    Full-time instructors: 72
    Part-time instructors:
    Volunteer instructors:
    Languages in which instructors are proficient:
    Armenian, English
    Educational backgrounds and credentials of instructors
    (e.g., diploma, bachelor's, master's, doctorate, certificate):

    BS/BA, MS/MA, PhD
    Professional development opportunities instructors have:
    Professional development opportunities instructors need:
    Students' expectations of the program:
    Student background
    First-generation immigrants:
    Second-generation immigrants:
    Third-generation immigrants:
    Children of interethnic marriages:
    Children of interethnic adoption:
    Indigenous students:
    Students' countries of origin:
    While the overwhelming majority of the students are from the USA and are the children of immigrants who arrived in the 70s and 80s, others are from Armenia and from countries with a strong Armenian presence (Lebanon, Iran, Turkey, Cyprus, Syria, Egypt, etc).  
    How the program identifies heritage language speakers:
    Parents enroll their students as heritage speakers.
    Average enrollment: 764
    Approximate percentage of students who complete the program:
    Approximate percentage of students who continue to study the heritage language after completing the program:
    Possible reasons that students continue to study the heritage language after completing the program:
    Total contact hours per week: 9
    Times per week: 5
    Student grouping (e.g., proficiency level, grade, age):
    By grade
    Language skills taught in the program (e.g., reading, writing, speaking, and listening):
    Reading, writing, speaking, and listening comprehension. Pre-schoolers acquire pre-reading skills in both English and in Armenian so they can begin to properly express themselves in both languages. Pre-schoolers have 10 hours of Armenian exposure per week, and kindergartners have 8 hours per week. Middle- and high-school students have 45 minutes of Armenian language classes 5 days a week (there is also a 45 minute culture class taught 5 days a week in the Armenian language).
    Aspects of culture included in the program (e.g., history, literature, traditions):
    Elementary and high-school students study history, literature, folklore, culture/tradition, ethics/religion, music as cultural components to the Armenian program. In 11th grade, students have an opportunity to take a field trip to Armenia, and in 12th grade, students have a mandatory Armenian history class (before 12th grade, this class period is devoted to overall studies in Armenian culture). Before 12th grade, students spend this period learning about Armenian culture (in the Armenian language, thereby increasing the number of contact hours per week to 9).
    Other content taught in the program:
    The school, which is a college preparatory institution, also offers core subjects (including honors and AP-level classes), electives, and extracurricular activities (e.g. sports teams, art classes, journalism and yearbook classes, Model UN, etc).
    Instructional methodologies used in the program:
    Levels of language proficiency reached by the end of the program (e.g., ACTFL proficiency levels, language tasks able to perform):
    It is hoped that students achieve at least a conversational level of Armenian and feel comfortable discussing literature and thinking critically in the language. Listening comprehension, speaking, and analytical thinking are the cruxes of the school's Armenian language component.
    "Our Language" (Merlezon)
    Manuals and workbooks:
    Self-designed materials:
    Films, videos, and DVDs:
    Standardized tests used:
    SAT Reasoning
    SAT Subject Tests
    Other assessments used:
    Report cards and evaluations based on the results of tests and quizzes, homework, classroom participation and cooperation, effort, and other pertinent factors.
    Connections with local schools or other organizations:
    Supported by the Armenian General Benevolent Union
    Credit received from formal education system:
    Students receive credit that goes toward meeting requirements for entry into college.
    Types of support received (e.g., financial, time from parents or volunteers):
    Financial support from the Armenian General Benevolent Union / donations / tuition, in-kind support from parents' volunteering efforts
    Additional support desired:
    Challenges faced by the program:
    As the majority of the students are American-born, the most eminent challenge is to reinforce a sense of belonging with Armenian culture among students and to adapt this culture, which several students view as 'old world,' to the everyday existence with which they are most familiar.
    Profile created by Evan Alterman on July 17, 2012.