• mother daughter and dad smiling

      Sousse (Mom), Solange (Blair 9th grader), Mike (Dad) (Photo – Hanhans)

      The Armenian Academy at Blair is now in its third year, how time flies! With PUSD’s Enrollment season upon us, I thought I would share with the public some of the perspectives of those in this Academy.

      By Scott Phelps

      Maro Yacoubian, the founder of the Academy and chair of the Academy’s Advisory Board, connected me with a family who had a rare story about their daughter’s enrollment in the Academy.

      The Hanhan family had been living in Fontana, and Sousse, the mom, worked in Glendale. They were always looking for a place for her daughter, Solange, to get some Armenian culture. For many years they had wanted to get her into a school that taught Armenian, but they were so expensive and far away. Sousse is Armenian from Lebanon, and her husband Mike is Palestinian from Jordan. One day she saw an ad on Facebook. She saw this ad after years of looking and was ecstatic!  She sent a message on Facebook to the Armenian Academy at Blair. Maro Yacoubian called her right away. Maro explained the program in detail. Sousse was very excited. She set up an appointment and met with Maro. She helped her with the orientation. She met Mr. Dadourian. He was very nice like all the teachers are. They joined right away which required them to go through the process of taking Solange out of the Etiwanda school district. Maro and the community assistant Taleen guided her through it.


      Commuting to Blair required Solange to get up really early, at 5 or 6 am, to go with mom on the at least 2 hr. drive to Pasadena from Fontana. Solange would ride in with mom who worked in Glendale and ride home with her. They did that for the 2021-22 year, Solange’s first year in the Academy, which was her 7th grade year. Every single day waking up very early was very hard for Solange, and she was also staying late for Academy activities like the Armenian dance and choir clubs and Blair water polo. She would get home very late after the long commute back to Fontana, but she was in honors classes and got straight A’s! She was enjoying the school a lot. Sousse and her husband Mike were shocked at how dedicated Solange was. She didn’t miss much school. She did all her projects, and her homework was accelerating. Mike had been questioning whether she could do it. “Are you sure Sousse?”

      Armenian language

      Solange made it; she passed her tests and did her projects. Last year she really liked math, so that was her favorite subject. Mr. Glenn didn’t give up on students; he was very patient with them. If they didn’t understand he wouldn’t yell, and he would explain it again. Prior to her first year at Blair, Dad had helped her with her homework until 10 pm. Math was very hard from 3rd to 6th grade; it took her a long time to do any assignment. Last year, with the online (Paper) tutoring provided by PUSD and helpful teachers, he didn’t have to help her with math homework. Her second favorite class was beginning Armenian language because it was a challenge. It was a challenge because you had to read it, write it, and translate it, instead of just speaking it with mom and grandma.

      Solange loves to be challenged. For example she loves investigation shows to try and figure them out. A challenge is very enjoyable. When she came to Blair her mind opened up. She changed. Solange said that the International Baccalaureate (IB) school is a challenge which is good for her. She told her Dad that’s why she was doing better in school. When she saw her child sleeping both ways in the car, this encouraged Sousse on the very long drives.

      Moving closer to Blair

      This program was such a good change for Solange that they decided to sell their home and move closer to Blair. Sousse had been doing the commute from Fontana to Glendale and back for more than ten years so it was great for her too. During the move this past summer, Solange started going to a PCC business class at Muir. Her counselor asked her what she wanted to do in the summer. She said she wanted to eventually go into business like her Dad and real estate like her cousin. So the counselor put her in a PCC summer class at John Muir, Business 101, and she got an A+. She told her friends not to make fun of her as she would graduate before them.

      Sousse can’t say enough about how her daughter has developed and evolved, in one year! Right before school started this past August, the Armenian Academy had a “meet and greet” in the park. The Academy had been a new environment, and her daughter had been scared, as she didn’t speak much Armenian. This child had opened up and wanted to be in every club or educational opportunity—music, dance, anything at the school. She is an only child, and this was her playground. Sousse appreciated Blair and the small community. Although it is a public school, it is small and unlike big schools where you can get lost.

      Solange is now in 8th grade, so the classes are harder. She has Math, Science, History Honors, English Honors, Armenian 2 and PE.

      She is looking forward to taking another PCC class this coming summer. She may try an art class, too, in addition to business.

      She has made friends from the Armenian dance and choir and regular Armenian clubs. She met them last year.  She only sees her Armenian friends during Armenian class and in PE. She has made friends outside of the Armenian group and is on the phone all the time to them according to Dad.

      Solange has recommended this program to her cousin and to friends. Mom and Dad think it is a great program! If families are interested, they can access an application at armenianacademy.org. Apply today!

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      1. David Rivera says:

        How proud Mike and Sousse must be of Solange and also Grandma. It is also a wonderful thing to see young ones excel so much in this day and age. This world need more young people like Solange. WTG!! Solange.

      2. LiL Coubi says:

        This is so amazing!! Wow the dedication of the parents is wonderful. Proud to hear a fellow Armenian wanting to get colder to there culture.

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