By Tommy Chan
The Mirror Staff
By Ezra Kim
The Mirror Staff
“The society that we will live in is very family oriented. I believe that families are the cells of society and that we must start building up from the foundation in order to influence the whole.”
“When I see parents grow from the knowledge I built for many years, it is a big relief and satisfaction. Seeing their success makes me feel motivated to help the community even more.”
Seeking to Strengthen Student-Parent Ties
FEATURE: The Van Nuys High School Parent Center works to strengthen family relationships as well as assist the school and local communities.
PHOTO BY SHIMLA RAHMAN MIRROR STAFF
Building up the Van Nuys High School community behind the scenes is the Parent Center, run by family educator and community representative Mrs. Rose Avetisyan.
Their main goal is to aid and strengthen family ties between parent and student in order to create productive citizens for our society.
“The society that we will live in is very family oriented,” said Mrs. Avetisyan. “I believe that families are the cells of society and that we must start building up from the foundation in order to influence the whole.”
When parents and students arrive at the Parent Center located in Room 423, they are greeted by an organized and comfortable environment that aims to put them at ease—just like their home.
“I want to emphasize the fact that they will be welcomed here anytime; as the saying goes, ‘mi casa es tu casa’.”
The Parent Center includes a small library of children’s books to encourage parents to read with their young children, a computer lab, study areas, and a small play area to occupy the children during the parent workshops.
Mrs. Avetisyan believes that the connection between a child and his or her parents is of utmost importance, which she stresses through a series of activities aimed at improving this relationship.
One activity called “Hand Values” involves parents drawing a hand and writing family-essential values on it that they would like to pass on to their children. The most important value is written in the center of the hand while other the others are listed on the fingers and thumb.
This activity emphasizes positive activities and experiences with the child. It requires the parents to ask themselves, “What can I do to develop this value in my child?”
Another family activity that is often done to strengthen their bonds is flower drawing, which delineates positive activities done with the child in the center of the flower and negative activities on the petals. Each drawing is unique and features varying amounts of positive and negative activities.
“This activity is to teach the parents that the negative activities learned during their children’s youth is carried throughout their lives,” said Mrs. Avetisyan. “This is analogous with the water cycle. When a child is hurt, the hurt stays and is emitted into the environment. If we were to have positive experiences with them, we are raising productive citizens for our society.”
Along with bonding activities, Mrs. Avetisyan holds Parenting and Parent Empowerment Workshops every Wednesday and Thursday at 9:00 a.m., as well as English classes at 8:15 a.m.
Some of the topics that the Parenting and Parent Empowerment Workshops cover include Anger Management, Motivating your Teen, A-G Requirements, and Restorative Justice Discipline Policy.
“This educational curriculum focuses on providing families with the knowledge, tools and inspiration to help their children succeed in school and in life.”
Each lesson begins with an ice breaker to encourage teamwork and different perspectives. One such activity is the facial illusion of a young and old women; while some only see an elder women, others see a young lady.
“This specific ice breaker is to help parents understand that each person sees life through different eyes and that we must respect each others’ opinions,” said Mrs. Avetisyan.
The Parent Center aids and builds up the community in more ways than one.
Along with providing resources for parents and building up their relationship with their children, they also collect donations such as clothing for the needy and gather the leftover Breakfast in Classroom (BIC) food so none of it goes to waste.
All the leftover milk, juice, fruit, and other foods are sent to the Parent Center after BIC, and then donated to a local church, which distributes them to the needy in Van Nuys.
The Parent Center is also responsible for organizing a variety of programs that reward the hardworking personnel at Van Nuys High.
The Angel of the Year Award honors those who display exemplary abilities and qualities that benefit the community. Principal Yolanda Gardea was awarded Angel of the Year in 2015 for her personality and attitude towards the community.
The 101 Flowers event also offers respect to the principal for her service to the school. Each year, parents collect flowers from their gardens to present to Ms. Gardea.
The Van Nuys community benefits from Mrs. Avetisyan’s wide variety of experiences and her professionalism.
As a California State Credentialed Family Educator, Mrs. Avetisyan has worked for LAUSD since 1993 and has been a part of the Van Nuys High School community for four years.
The success of the Parent Center motivates her to continue her hard work.
“When I see parents grow from the knowledge I built for many years, it is a big relief and satisfaction. Seeing their success makes me feel motivated to help the community even more,” she said.
The Parent Center is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m to 3 p.m. Mrs. Avetisyan and other volunteers are available to help in any situation, offer valuable information, or just have a nice conversation.