Genocide Education Engulfs Newton South

NEWTON, Mass.—Students and faculty members at Newton South High School are getting a stern lesson in genocide education throughout April.

Sona Petrossian of the Newton Human Rights Commission is joined by Dro Kanayan, chairman of the Armenian Genocide Curriculum Committee of Merrimack Valley, at Newton South High School, where a compelling exhibit on genocide fills the library throughout April.
Sona Petrossian of the Newton Human Rights Commission is joined by Dro Kanayan, chairman of the Armenian Genocide Curriculum Committee of Merrimack Valley, at Newton South High School, where a compelling exhibit on genocide fills the library throughout April.

A stirring exhibit occupies the library walls, complemented by appearances from outside guests, including members of the Armenian Genocide Curriculum Committee of Merrimack Valley.

Attyorney Anthony Barsamian recently spoke on legislative issues regarding the “Armenian Question” before catching a flight to Washington, D.C., to meet with top officials.

In addressing the students, he brought out the failure of our American government to properly recognize the genocide and called for justice to be served. Also involved in the discussion was Dro Kanayan, the chairman of the Merrimack Valley committee, who repeated the need for affirmative action.

It was all part of a weeklong remembrance symposium that saw students spending their own time planning and executing a lecture series on genocide that joined Armenia with the Jewish Holocaust, Irish Potato Famine, Rwanda, Bosnia and Sudan/Darfur.

One Armenian speaker made a profound statement—that a simple act of bullying can be at the very root of genocide. Issues not only involved the past but current initiatives meant to curb violence in our society.

Joined at the organizing end was Sona Petrossian, a Newton human rights commissioner, who commended the outside support from her community.

“We maintain a positive relationship with teachers, administrators, students, and parents to support diversity programs in Newton schools,” said Petrossian. “For over 10 years, we’ve welcomed student participation from both our high schools to maintain ongoing dialogue regarding human rights issues and other similar activities.”

A portable exhibit catches the immediate eye as people gather in the library. Many were seen reading the various poster messages, some containing graphic accounts of horrific events throughout history.

“It’s a unique experience where students can gain tremendous insight into history from experts in the field,” she added. “By heightening awareness, we can bring about a society that fosters peace and harmony throughout our various communities.”

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Tom Vartabedian

Tom Vartabedian is a retired journalist with the Haverhill Gazette, where he spent 40 years as an award-winning writer and photographer. He has volunteered his services for the past 46 years as a columnist and correspondent with the Armenian Weekly, where his pet project was the publication of a special issue of the AYF Olympics each September.
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