The Armenian school is the most important institution for the survival of the Armenian community and church in the diaspora. The origin of Armenia was in the sixth century B.C. Armenian culture is older than European culture. Armenia became the first Christian nation in the world in 301 A.D.
Armenians understood that they had to work to preserve their identity. To emphasize that, the church was named the Armenian Apostolic Church whose mission would be to teach Armenian identity along with Christianity. In the beginning, church services were in the Greek and Syriac languages. Mesrob Mashtots invented the Armenian Alphabet in 405 A.D. in order to preserve the Armenian language. The new alphabet inspired the translation of the Bible to Armenian in 411 A.D. Mesrob Mashtots opened the first Armenian School in order to preserve Armenian identity.
History shows that Armenian communities in foreign countries that built churches without schools eventually disappeared. The first Armenian school in the US opened in 1964 in California 50 years after the Genocide. A generation was lost in between, not learning about their identity. The Prelacy was established in the US in 1957. Thirty churches were built in four years, but no Armenian day schools.
In order to survive, we must follow the example of the Jewish people who survived thousands of years without a country. The secret of their success was that they always taught Jewish identity. There are more than seven million Jews in the US. They have 861 day schools with 250,000 students. We number more than half a million in the US and have only 21 Armenian day schools. If we don’t follow the example of the Jewish people, we don’t have any chance to survive after being the first Christian nation. It will be very helpful as a first step to start teaching Armenian language and history, along with Christianity, in Sunday schools. We should also start fundraising with telethons for Armenian day schools.