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Mark Keppel High School is a four-year California Distinguished School located in the city of Alhambra, California in the Alhambra Unified School District. The school is on the southern edge of Alhambra, adjacent to the City of Monterey Park, and borders the Interstate 10 Freeway. Mark Keppel serves students from portions of Alhambra, Monterey Park, and Rosemead.
Mark Keppel High School is named for Dr. Mark Keppel, Superintendent of Los Angeles County Schools from 1902 to 1928. Since its inception, Mark Keppel High has been involved in a heated interscholastic rivalry with cross-town rival Alhambra High School.
The redrawing of the feeder-school lines has had a profound effect on Mark Keppel High School; the elementary school students of the Highlands area of Monterey Park were re-routed from Alhambra High to Mark Keppel High. Some concerned parents banded together and formed the Mark Keppel High School Alliance to lobby the Alhambra School District to improve conditions, renovate the aging campus, and to advocate for the school community.
Throughout the 1940s, the white and Hispanic students got along harmoniously and conflicts were few. The 1944 Aztec Varsity Football team, under the command of head coach Eddie Wagner, beat the Pasadena High School Bulldogs 19-13 for the CIF-SS Championship at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Aztec alumni served gallantly in various branches of the military in World War II; Aztecs who remained on the home front reminded students to conserve valuable resources, while others volunteered at area USO’s.
Student participation in activities and school spirit soared throughout the 1950s as the Mark Keppel Aztecs-Alhambra Moors rivalry kicked into high gear. Football games became so popular that they had to be held in the Rose Bowl to accommodate the crowds, and the rivalry became so intense that it soon expanded beyond the football stadium and into other extracurricular activities.
The 1960s began deceptively peacefully, but then the 1967/68 school year saw a radical cultural shift. School spirit and participation in school activities waned as the sixties counterculture found its place on the campus; ASB became to be perceived as an exclusive clique whose activities only inflated their own egos; anti-war sentiment over the Vietnam War became widespread; ethnic activism spurred students to protest. The school dress code was seldom enforced as boys began sporting mop top haircuts, and girls began wearing pants to school unchallenged. Meanwhile, racial tensions emerged as whites moved out and more Hispanics moved in from East Los Angeles, making Mark Keppel High a school “made up of strangers.”
An attempt to unify Monterey Park schools with the city boundaries, which was an attempt to isolate its largely white student body (from the largely Hispanic student body coming from Garvey Junior High in neighboring Rosemead), failed in an election in 1970.
Even though there was a brief period of racial tensions between the white "Surfers" and the Hispanic "gang bangers", this was generally a very mellow campus with European Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Asian Americans, and immigrants of vast cultural diversity getting along very well, with a progressive academic curriculum on the horizon.
In 1944 the Mark Keppel varsity football team won the CIF championship. Mark Keppel also had an outstanding tennis program during the 1970s.
But as the 1970s drew to a close, the predominantly white and Hispanic student population of Mark Keppel High slowly shifted as larger numbers of Taiwanese immigrated to United States. Monterey Park became a haven for Asian immigrants because of its proximity to downtown Los Angeles and magazines and advertisements that reached all the way to Hong Kong. High-density housing and shopping developments along Garfield Avenue were marketed to these new residents, and stories of home buyers riding bicycles with grocery sacks full of cash (and offering top-dollar purchases) were circulated.
In spite of editorials in the "Monterey Park Progress" newspaper (which urged residents to invite newcomers into their social groups and to encourage them to adopt American culture), the emerging sea of Chinese-language storefront signs on Garvey, Garfield and Atlantic Boulevards changed the perception of Monterey Park to the “Chinese Beverly Hills.” Participation in school activities and school spirit continued to wane, but did so because of immigrant students’ unfamiliarity with American high school culture rather than with the prevailing counterculture and disillusionment of the times.
The 1990s seemed to be a return to happy times as the younger immigrants became acclimated to American culture while in elementary school and made their way into Mark Keppel High. Student interest was reborn and new clubs formed with more emphasis on the stewardship of the environment and social consciousness. The nineties became a veritable Renaissance of fresh optimism, exemplary academic achievement, exceptional student participation in school activities, and history-making success in athletics.
Mark Keppel has an active local campus chapter of the San Gabriel Valley Habitat for Humanity. Mark Keppel High School is one of the top schools in the Alhambra Unified School District.
In the 2006–2007 school year, the student body was 70% Asian, 23% Hispanic or Latino, and 2% White; the remaining 4% consisted of Filipino, African-American and Pacific Islander students, with the addition of those who had no response. The predominant languages spoken at students' homes are Cantonese, Mandarin and Spanish. Approximately 60% of the student population participates in a free or reduced lunch program, while 25% of the students are English language learners.
Construction of Mark Keppel High School started December 19, 1938, three days after the ground-breaking ceremonies. The school was just one of thousands of projects built by the Public Works Administration during the Great Depression, but this was one that the cities of Monterey Park, Alhambra, the Alhambra High School District, and the unincorporated Wilmar section of Los Angeles County would be proud to call their own. Renovations and construction of new buildings has recently begun.
As of May 10, 2010, the new Science/Social Science building has been opened and the teachers are currently in the process of moving in.
Administration Building Dedication Plaque
Industrial Arts Building Dedication Plaque
Physical Education Building Dedication Plaque
Administration Dedication Plaque
In 2007, band and orchestra teacher Dr. Carla Bartlett won the Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County's Bravo Award as an in the Arts Specialist division, one of the highlights of her career. Leading the District Band along with rival Alhambra High's Mark Trulson and San Gabriel's Tammy Cognetta, Dr. Bartlett and her marching band qualified to enter the 2009 Tournament of Roses Parade.
Mark Keppel has established itself as one of the premier co-ed Badminton school in Southern California in the late 80's and throughout 90's. Under the direction of coach Harold George, the Aztec badminton team has won CIF-SS championships in 1987 (3-A), 1990 (3-A), 1991 (3-A), 1992 (3-A), 1993 (I), 1994 (I), 1996 (I), 1997 (I), 1998 (I), 2010 (I) and was CIF-SS runner-ups in 1995 (I), 2002 (I), 2003 (I), 2004 (I), & 2009 (I).
Both the Aztec Boys and Girls Varsity swim teams won back-to-back CIF-SS Division IV championships in the 2007 and 2008 season. The Girls Varsity swim and dive team won the CIF-SS Division III championships in the 2010 season. It is the girl's third title in four years.
The boys Varsity soccer team of 1979 won the CIF-SS Division III championship by beating Orange County's University High School by the score of 4-2. This was the first CIF title for the school in any sport during the previous 25 years.
The boys Varsity basketball team achieved great accomplishments in 2010, advancing to the CIF-SS Division 2A semifinals. The team is coached currently by Hung Duong. Advancing to the semifinals was never accomplished in Keppel history.
The girls Varsity basketball team were Almont League champions for 8 years, from 2002-2009.
The girls Varsity tennis team has been Almont League champs for several years. And once again were League champs in 2009/10.
Mark Keppel High School's journalism class, headed by Cynthia Bradley, runs the school newspaper, issued tri-weekly.
The organization sells copies of its magazine each year during or near the time of the Festival of Learning. Released only once a year, the IDEA Magazine is an annual compilation of Mark Keppel students' achievements in literature and art.
The student-run yearbook committee compiles each year's most memorable events into the annual, known as Teocalli. It is also run by Cynthia Bradley with the help of her 6th period Yearbook class. The name pays homage to the temple of religious ritual that once served as the crux of Aztecan worship.
Mark Keppel High School is designed in the Streamline Moderne architectural style, a variant of the Art Deco, and a product of the Great Depression. While the Art Deco celebrated the mechanization of the Jazz Age with big, bold, vertical designs, exotic materials, and elaborate decorations, the Streamline Moderne was a more reserved and utilitarian style. The Streamline Moderne mimicked the fast, dynamic look of machines with sleek, aerodynamic and nautical forms, low horizontal designs, rounded corners, and shiny materials.
The architecture of Mark Keppel High School features rounded corners in and outside the auditorium, on the staircase leading up to the front entrance, and in all the interior stairwells. Incised horizontal lines cut through the brick stringcourse which wraps the lower part of the building and the brick pillars between the windows. The stucco texture coat of the facade features designs that emphasize horizontal shapes; blocks between the windows on both floors and along the top of the building contribute to the geometric, yet sleek look of the building. The uppermost block is bounded by a horizontal brick band, and the building is crowned with a small inset ledge. Extra handrails are found in front of the windows in the second floor hallways, in front of the display cases around the administration offices, and on the north wing exterior staircase.
Auditorium & Main Entrance
Industrial Arts Building
Physical Education Building
Mark Keppel High School features three bas relief murals made by native Southern California artist, Millard Sheets.
The three enamel on stainless steel murals entitled "Early California" decorate the exterior of the auditorium, and depict the founding of California as well as the regional features of Los Angeles County.
The largest mural crowns the entrance to the auditorium and depicts the three main groups that colonized and populated California: the Spanish Conquistadors, the Catholic Missionaries, and American Pioneers. The mural features a golden California on a backdrop of green mountain ranges, dotted with golden Redwood trees, and capped with a large reflective stainless steel sun wrapped with a sunburst decoration. On the left, the Conquistador goes before his ship, claiming the new land in the name of Spain. In the center, a Missionary kneels down, gingerly placing a mission in Southern California. On the right, a Miner 49’er pans for gold while his wife holds their child and rifle, their covered wagons behind them.
The two smaller murals are located on the southern facade of the auditorium, facing toward Hellman Ave. The mural on the left depicts early Los Angeles County with the San Gabriel Mountains to the north, the San Gabriel Mission surrounded by orange groves in the center, a dairy farm with Cowboy below, and the Long Beach Harbor in the south.
The mural on the right showcases the entire state of California. From north to south: a lumberjack cuts down a Redwood tree, two miners pan for gold, and a farmer harvests oranges from his orange grove. A cowboy gallops in on a white horse from the east, while a large ship sails in majestically from the west.
Mural above Auditorium entrance
Southern face of Auditorium
Los Angeles County Mural
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