Mark Keppel High School

Mark Keppel High School
Established1938
TypePublic Secondary
PrincipalRussell Yamanaka
Students2466
Grades9–12
LocationAlhambra, California, USA
ColorsCardinal and White
MascotAztecs
NewspaperThe Aztec
WebsiteMKHS.org


Mark Keppel High School is a California Distinguished School in the Alhambra Unified School District, located at 501 E. Hellman Ave., Alhambra, California, 91801.

History

Mark Keppel High School is named for Dr. Mark Keppel, Superintendent of Los Angeles County Schools from 1902 to 1928.

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.

The Mark Keppel student body has long been characterized as a harmonious, hard working group of multi-cultural and multi-racial students from the surrounding communities. Since its inception, Mark Keppel High has been in competition with cross-town rival Alhambra High, which always seemed to enjoy “favorite-son” status with the Alhambra community and school district.

Mark Keppel High has been through it all: the austerity and uncertainty of the Great Depression and World War II, the prosperity, hot rods and slicked back hair of the 1950s, the civil unrest and Counterculture of the 1960s, the globalization and self-absorption of the 1970s, the White Flight in the 1980s, and a redrawing of the feeder-school lines in the mid-1990s.

The redrawing of the feeder-school lines has had a profound effect on MKHS; 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.


Administration Building Dedication Plaque

Industrial Arts Building Dedication Plaque

Physical Education Building Dedication Plaque

Administration Dedication Plaque


Architecture

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

Main Building

Industrial Arts Building

Physical Education Building


Murals

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

California Mural


Student Body

The students of Mark Keppel High always reflect the time periods, and the surroundings in which they live.

Throughout the 1940s the White and Hispanic students got along harmoniously and conflicts were few. 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-Alhambra rivalry (the oldest inter-school rivalry in the California Interscholastic Federation) 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.

The 1970s proved a volatile decade as the issues of the previous era remained unresolved. Youth received extracurricular input, from cultural programs at Barnes Park and local establishments like Ed Kretz's motorcycle shop, the guitar and record stores on Garvey, rock radio like KHJ-AM and KKDJ-FM, and contemporary programming shown on broadcast TV. But many long-time faculty at Mark Keppel stuck with an "assembly-line" approach to education, based on a largely irrelevant curriculum (with "answers" found in teacher's guides of outdated textbooks), and became discouraged and distant from increasingly rebellious students. In response to this disconnection between the educational program and 1970s realities, students who had their own vehicles drove off-campus, and used drugs and alcohol during the unrestricted hour-long "open campus" lunchtimes. Younger students started informal parties at the nearby "smoker's alley" under the Almansor bridge at the I-10 freeway, and academic and athletic achievement suffered. A perception of school identity was particularly affected by use of a "split schedule," where neighboring Alhambra High School was used in afternoons as a temporary replacement for Mark Keppel High, during extensive building renovations in 1974-1975.

Racial tensions continued, as longer-haired sandal-wearing skateboard-riding white students called "surfers" felt targeted with intimidation and gang violence by groups of hispanic gang members called "cholos" (and their girlfriends called "cholas") who were then living a "la vida loca" lifestyle. Although second-generation Japanese-American students largely intermixed socially and academically with whites in the 1970s, local Hispanics dropped out in large numbers (including "Lomas" gang members of the Rosemead/South San Gabriel areas who spent daytimes marking neighborhoods with spray-painted graffiti, and spent nighttimes engaging in violent turf battles with the nearby San Gabriel-based "Sangra" gang). To prevent fights at the school, students served as volunteer hall monitors during classtimes, and a hallway-pass system was enforced. But this couldn't prevent activities occurring off the campus, and as in one example, pregnancies became common among underage 14 to 17 year-old Hispanic girls of the area.

News accounts of the 1970s covered numerous drive-by murders by gangs in nearby South San Gabriel, described arrests of local Vietnam veterans for marijuana and heroin, and robberies of retail stores like the local "Stop N' Go" were also frequent occurrences. A memorial page in the Keppel 1977 high school annual featured a freshman called "Angel," who drowned in 2 feet of water in nearby Legg Lake, while under the influence of PCP ("angel dust"). Local police at the time could be more easily located at the parking lots of the "Tiki's" nightclub (on Potrero Grande) and at the "Other Ball" strip club (on Garvey in San Gabriel), than patrolling their assigned areas. In response to this community decline, many white and Asian parents transferred their children to alternate middle schools like El Repetto (to avoid gang violence at Garvey Junior High) and to alternate high schools like Alhambra (to avoid some of the violent graduates of Garvey Junior High) in the later 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.” (The derogatory term "FOB" meaning "Fresh Off (the) Boat," was sometimes heard, althought true refugee Cambodian and Vietnemese "boat people" didn't arrive until later in the 1980s). Another common saying was "Will the last American to leave Monterey Park, please remember to bring the flag?". 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.

Today Mark Keppel High marches proudly and confidently into the new millennium, continually raising the bar for academic achievement, school club participation, sports records, and school reputation.

Mark Keppel has an active local campus chapter of San Gabriel Valley Habitat for Humanity.[1]

Alma Mater

Enlarge picture
Alma Mater
Mark Keppel High we hail thee.
With honors true and bright.
The heaven's beauties hail thee.
With thy Red and White.
Our Alma Mater true.
Thy fame has long been made.
We sing a joyful praise anew.
Thy memories shall not fade.

Mascot

Mark Keppel High School's official symbol and mascot is the Aztec.

Enlarge picture
Keppel's Four Flags

Awards and Accreditations

Notable Alumni

External Links and Sources

19th century - 20th century - 21st century
1900s  1910s  1920s  - 1930s -  1940s  1950s  1960s
1935 1936 1937 - 1938 - 1939 1940 1941

Year 1938 (MCMXXXVIII
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A principal is generally the chief administrator of an elementary school, middle school, or high school.
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City of Alhambra, California

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Location of Alhambra within Los Angeles County, California.
Coordinates:
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Motto
"In God We Trust"   (since 1956)
"E Pluribus Unum"   ("From Many, One"; Latin, traditional)
Anthem
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School colors are the colors chosen by a school to represent it on uniforms and other items of identification. Most schools have two colors, which are usually chosen to avoid conflicts with other schools with which the school competes in sports and other activities.
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mascot – originally a term for any person, animal, or object thought to bring luck – now includes anything used to represent a group with a common public identity, such as a school, professional sports team, society, military unit, or brand name.
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The Aztec world
Aztec society
Nahuatl language
Aztec calendar
Aztec religion
Aztec mythology
Human sacrifice in Aztec culture
Aztec history
Aztln
Aztec codices
Aztec warfare
Aztec Triple Alliance
Spanish conquest of Mexico
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A California Distinguished School is an award given by the California State Board of Education to public schools within the state that best represent exemplary and quality educational programs.
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The Alhambra Unified School District is a school district based in Alhambra, California, United States.

AUSD serves the City of Alhambra, most of the City of Monterey Park, and parts of the Cities of San Gabriel and Rosemead.
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City of Alhambra, California

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Location of Alhambra within Los Angeles County, California.
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Dr. Mark Keppel served as County Superintendent of Schools of Los Angeles County from 1902 to 1928.

Life and Times

Born on April 11, 1867, in Butte County, California, Mark Keppel grew up in a strictly religious, pioneer family.
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The Public Works Administration of 1933 (PWA) was a part of the first New Deal agency that made contracts with private firms for construction of public works. It was headed by Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes.
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Monterey Park, California
Cascades Waterfall on Atlantic Boulevard

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City of Alhambra, California

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Wilmar was the former name of a then-unincorporated district of the San Gabriel Valley, about eight miles east of the center of Los Angeles. Wilmar was combined with the unincorporated communities of Garvey (to the east of Wilmar) and Potrero Heights (to the south of Wilmar) to
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Los Angeles County is a county in California and is by far the most populous county in the United States. Figures from the U.S. Census Bureau give an estimated 2006 population of 9,948,081 residents, [1] while the California State government's population bureau
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worldwide view.


2nd millennium
Centuries: 19th century - 20th century - 21st century

1920s 1930s 1940s - 1950s - 1960s 1970s 1980s
1950 1951 1952 1953 1954
1955 1956 1957 1958 1959

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1930s 1940s 1950s - 1960s - 1970s 1980s 1990s
1960 1961 1962 1963 1964
1965 1966 1967 1968 1969

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1940s 1950s 1960s - 1970s - 1980s 1990s 2000s
1970 1971 1972 1973 1974
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White flight is a term for the demographic trend where working- and middle-class white people move away from increasingly racial-minority inner-city neighborhoods to white suburbs and exurbs.
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