Mark Keppel High School

Mark Keppel High School
The Aztec.jpg
Established 1938
Type Public Secondary
Principal Ms. Grace Love
Students 2466
Grades 9–12
Location 501 East Hellman Avenue,
Alhambra, California, USA
Coordinates 34°04′12″N 118°06′59″W / 34.069996°N 118.116524°W / 34.069996; -118.116524Coordinates: 34°04′12″N 118°06′59″W / 34.069996°N 118.116524°W / 34.069996; -118.116524
Colors Cardinal and White
Mascot Aztecs
Rival Alhambra High School[1]
Newspaper 'The Aztec'

Mark Keppel High School is a four-year California Distinguished School located in the city of Alhambra, California in the Alhambra Unified School District.[2] 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.[3]



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 an interscholastic rivalry with cross-town rival Alhambra High School.

Construction of Mark Keppel High School started December 19, 1938, three days after the ground-breaking ceremonies. The school was one of the thousands of projects built by the Public Works Administration during the Great Depression, but this was one that the PWAs of Monterey Park, Alhambra, and the unincorporated Wilmar section of Los Angeles County would be proud of.

The 1944 Aztec Varsity Football team, under the command of head coach Eddie Wagner, and with Bill Martin, CIF-SS Football Player of the Year 1944, leading the team, beat the Pasadena High School Bulldogs 19–13 for the CIF-SS Championship at the Los Angeles Coliseum.[4]

Student participation in activities and school spirit peaked during the 1950s as the Mark Keppel Aztecs-Alhambra Moors rivalry increased. Football games became so popular that they had to be held in the Rose Bowl to accommodate the crowds. Rivalry exacerbated and began to extend beyond the football field and into other extracurricular and social activities.

Keppel's Four Flags

During the early sixties, there was a period of minor cultural tension between the predominately white "Surfers" and the "Chicanos". The 1967–68 school year was the beginning of a significant cultural shift. School spirit and participation in school activities waned as the sixties counterculture found its way onto the campus. ASB came to be perceived by much of the student body as an exclusive social clique. Anti-war sentiment over the Vietnam War accelerated and political activism encouraged students to protest. The school dress code was no longer enforced as boys began sporting longer hair, and girls began wearing trousers to school. Racial tensions increased as whites relocated and the Hispanic population increased.[citation needed]

In an attempt to "unify" Monterey Park schools within the city boundaries, a measure was proposed which was purportedly an attempt to segregate its largely White student body from the largely Hispanic student body coming from Garvey Junior High in neighboring Rosemead, a part of Alhambra School District.[citation needed] The measure failed to pass in an election in 1970.

But as the 1970s drew to a close, the predominance of the 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. 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 were circulated.[citation needed]

In spite of editorials in the Monterey Park Progress newspaper which urged residents to invite newcomers into their social groups, the emergence of Chinese-language storefront signs on Garvey, Garfield and Atlantic Boulevards changed the perception of Monterey Park to the “Chinese Beverly Hills”.[citation needed] 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.


In the 1990s 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 "Renaissance" of fresh optimism, exemplary academic achievement, excellent student participation in school activities, and great success in athletics.[citation needed]


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.[citation needed]

Awards and accreditations


In 2007, the student body was 90% Asian American, 23% Hispanic or Latino, and 3% Caucasian, the remaining 4% consisted of Filipino, African-American, Native American and Pacific Islander students. 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 participate in ESL [5]

Alma Mater

Extracurricular activities

Visual and performing arts

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.[6] Leading the District Band along with rival Alhambra High's Mark Trulson and San Gabriel's Tammy Cognetta, Dr. Bartlett and the marching band qualified to participate in the 2009 Tournament of Roses Parade.


The Varsity football team, under coach Eddie Wagner, beat Pasadena High School 19-13 for the 1944 CIF-SS Championship at the Los Angeles Coliseum.[7]

Mark Keppel has established itself as one of the premier co-ed Badminton school in Southern California in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s. 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.[8][9] The Girls Varsity swim and dive team won the CIF-SS Division III championships in the 2010 season.[10] In addition, the Aztecs have captured the Division 3 CIF-SS championship 2011 in both Boys and Girls. It is the girl's fourth title in five years. It is also the boy's third title in five years.[citation needed]They are also undefeated in Almont League for 7 years in the running.

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 girls Varsity Cross Country team has been League Champions since 2009 to present.

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.


The Aztec

Mark Keppel High School's journalism class, headed by Cynthia Bradley, runs the school newspaper, issued tri-weekly.

IDEA Magazine

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. The name pays homage to the temple of religious ritual that once served as the crux of Aztecan worship.[citation needed]


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.


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 second image show the placement of the two smaller murals on the auditorium.

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 in the center right 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.

Notable alumni


External links

Portal icon Los Angeles portal
Portal icon Schools portal

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