Local Armenian Community School Receives $25,000 Donation

Armenian teachers preparing lesson plans for their students. (Photo courtesy of Curtis Shamlin)

Charlie Keyan Armenain Community is a private school located on Villa Ave between Sierra and Herndon Avenues in Clovis. The school ranges from Pre-K to sixth grade. Just recently, the school received a $25,000 donation from the Barigian Family Foundation.

The Barigian Family Foundation is a Fresno-based nonprofit established by survivors of the Armenian Genocide.

This donation will go directly towards the teachers who teach the Armenian language. Classes are instructed in English but students are taught the Armenian language and culture each day for 45 minutes to an hour.

In the past the Armenian teachers taught in the school library. You had one teacher teaching Western Armenian while the other taught Eastern Armenian. Being in one room, students of all grades were also being taught the language at the same pace which conflicted with beginner, intermediate, and advanced students.

Curtis Shamlin serves as principal and superintendent of the school and for the last three years helped pave the way to have a new library built. The old library has been divided into two separate classrooms. 

“What this money will help do, is support those classrooms,” Shamlin said. “We basically turned it into an Armenian wing, so now there is an Eastern classroom and a Western classroom and they [students and teachers] don’t have to travel anywhere.”

This also was able to advance the program into dividing up classes into levels. So now beginner, intermediate, and advanced students are all taught separately.

“We had to spend a little more money to have that happen,” Shamlin said. “We need people like this to help support those programs if we want to continue what we’re doing.”

Charlie Keyan is the only Armenian school between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The nonprofit school has been in Clovis for over 12 years. The school is named after Charlie Keyan, a Fresno native, who donated the funds for construction of a new permanent campus.