Watertown HS struggles to preserve Armenian language instruction

An interesting and somewhat sad article from the Sunday Globe about Watertown’s struggle to preserve a four-decade old Armenian language course at Watertown High School. The article, written by my dear Wellesley High ’88 classmate Erica Noonan, depicts a community in transition. Though Watertown has the third largest Armenian immigrant population in the country, Armenian-Americans still only made up 9 percent of the town’s population in 2000 census. Students are under pressure to take advanced coursework and to master less obscure languages, the article points out. Add to that the retirement of the program’s founder and leading light, Anahid Yacoubian, who came to WHS in 1970, and prospects for the program look dim. Finding qualified teachers is difficult (though certainly easier in Watertown than in most other places), but there’s no certification for Armenian instructors and teaching materials are hard to come by. Still, Watertown High has found a replacement teacher for this year and hopes to preserve the program. At one time, Watertown, Belmont and Arlington all offered Armenian as a foreign language (maybe some of my readers remember when Belmont did?), but the language has long since been dropped from the course offerings in both towns.