It was a dream, dear to many, to have an Armenian Evangelical school in the United States. It endured in the hearts and minds of so many individuals for so long, that it could no longer be ignored, and a drive to make it a reality began. In the 1970’s, similar efforts were spurred on by repeated requests from new Armenian arrivals, which only intensified the efforts to bring such endeavors to fruition. In response to the overwhelming interest, a committee was formed to investigate the variety of issues associated with the establishment of a school. After much investigation, the committee confirmed its need and feasibility. After various potential sites were identified, the School was incorporated and bylaws were prepared. A Board of Directors was appointed comprised of three representatives each from the AEUNA and AMAA, along with one representative from each of the local Armenian Evangelical churches. With the legal organization complete and the administrative posts filled, the board and its standing committees then turned their attention to completing the requirements to start a new school.
By the summer of 1982, curriculum and personnel were in place. The AMAA provided “seed money” for the initial financial needs. The School opened its doors in the Sunday School classrooms of the United Armenian Congregational Church on September 13, 1982 with thirteen students, and a staff of four. By the end of the year, the student population had swelled to twenty-eight students with a long list of students planning to register for the following year.
During the 1983-1984 academic year, the school expanded into Kindergarten through 4th grade at the Presbyterian Church on Colfax Ave in North Hollywood. The Parent-Teacher Organization was formed during the same academic year. The current campus was purchased before the start of the 1986-87 academic year. The School received a sizeable donation from Miss Elise Merdinian, a supporter of the AMAA. In appreciation for her generosity, the Board agreed to name the school the Charlotte (her late sister) and Elise Merdinian Armenian Evangelical School. During the 1993-1994 academic year, the adjacent property was purchased doubling the physical size of the school.
During the 2013-2014 academic year, the School renovated the hall through a generous donation by Mrs. Anahis Derian Boolghoorjian. The hall was officially named The Aram and Anahis D. Boolghoorjian Hall. Other renovations included a new basketball court and a revamped Computer Lab as well as document cameras and digital projectors in the classrooms to facilitate teaching and learning. A significant accomplishment in 2014 was a substantial increase in the preschool license from 36 to 57 students. A ground breaking ceremony was held on July 8th, 2015 to launch construction of the new Bezjian Building. This state-of-the-art, 6,840 square foot structure, designed by architect, Harma Maghakian, replaced the old administrative building. It features a library, science laboratory, art room, several classrooms, and other facilities to serve the ongoing needs of the student population. The project was made possible through the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Albert and Terry Bezjian of Los Angeles, founders of Indo-European Foods of Glendale, who donated one million dollars to the school.
The C. & E. Merdinian Armenian Evangelical School is committed to providing an academically and spiritually invigorating education for its entire preschool through 8th grade student body in a safe, caring, and nurturing environment. Its strong academic program is validated by the remarkable achievements of its students. The school prepares its graduates to become responsible American citizens and future leaders of the community, firm in their Christian beliefs and proud of their Armenian heritage.
Merdinian School has been fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) since 1999. Mrs. Emily Shoemaker, leader of the WASC accreditation team and a veteran WASC accreditation team leader, said the following about Merdinian School in an email to Principal Lina Arslanian: “I can honestly say to you that Merdinian is the single best school I’ve ever known, and you and the entire staff are extraordinary educators. I congratulate you all for your sincere commitment to your students and their success.”