History » 1990's

1990's

As Mark Keppel High School entered the last decade of the century, signs began to appear that those hopes would be fulfilled. Students from immigrant families, first-generation American elementary schooled, began enrolling in Keppel, students raised as Americans and familiar with the American values of the mainstream culture. These students were proud to be American and proud of their Asian heritage. Hispanics, too, found that they could operate in a bilingual world both at home and at school. Lunch-time festivals took on a truly international flavor as all students eagerly sampled delicacies from a score of national cuisines. When the board of education mandated that district campuses be closed, students adjusted-if grudgingly-extremely well.

The 90's kinder, gentler times came to Keppel. Renewed student interest, echoing the nature movement of the 70's but more politically and socially aware, gave birth to new clubs that emphasized stewardship of the environment and social consciousness. If the romance of the 50's gave way to the idealism of the 60's and then the cynicism of the 70's, the solipsistic self-absorption of the 80's had likewise given way to a proactive optimism in the 90's.

1995 saw a decline in enrollment at Keppel for the first time in decades. The new Gabrielino High School in neighboring San Gabriel siphoned off a large percentage of San Gabriel High School students, resulting in boundary changes to spread the high school district population equitably. Although Keppel lost a segment of students from the Rosemead area, it gained students from Monterey Park.

Frustrated by years of seeming neglect from the board of education-most pointedly exemplified by the failure of the district to renovate the oldest school plant while the younger Alhambra High and San Gabriel High campuses were extensively upgraded-Keppel found new, enthusiastic allies in the parents of new Keppel students. The Mark Keppel Alliance was born in 1996 to both lobby for improved care and maintenance of Keppel and participate fully in the life of the school. Alliance members-student, teachers, parents, and school administrators-rolled up their sleeves and what they didn't fund, they fixed, painted, or provided.

The 90's made the turn towards the second millennium buoyed by fresh optimism, exemplary academic achievement, exceptional student participation in school activities, and history-making success in the athletic program. Keppel led the district in the percentage of students passing the national Advanced Placement examinations. Keppel was the only school of the three district mainstream high schools awarded a 6-year WASC accreditation. Keppel was recognized nationally for the excellence of its student leadership and its associated student body-sponsored activities. Aztec badminton teams made CIF history by earning CIF Southern Section crowns and dominating CIF badminton nine of ten years while building a won-lost record that may never be equaled. The girls' basketball teams, having waited patiently for their development system to mature, participated in CIF playoffs two years in a row and promise to become a dominant force in girls' athletics. The 1998 Varsity football team rose to the occasion against an Alhambra High team with history-it's centennial homecoming-the crowd, the odds, and the score on its side to upset the favored Moors-arguably the greatest victory in Aztec football history, inarguably the greatest in this venerable rivalry.