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Diversity of History in Arcadia High

History is a part of our lives, and paves the paths for our futures.

Emily Zheng, a junior at Arcadia High School

However, amidst challenging college-level courses and extracurricular activities, the average high school student must find a way to balance their school lives with their social lives among their priorities. Yet, many students in Arcadia High School have a passion for history, and apply this interest by joining organizations such as Academic Decathlon, History Bowl, and Student Council Historical Commission. These students share why they love history and what they do in and out of school to learn more about the subject they love.

(This blog also appears as an article in this month’s Caminos Newsletter for members of the Arcadia Historical Society.)

ACADEMIC DECATHLON Ten subjects. One historical theme. Academic Decathlon, commonly known as Acadeca, is an academic team that covers subjects such as science, social science, music, art, literature, economics, interview, and essay, all of which center on history with the exception of math and often times, science, says Goldie Shen, one of next year’s co-captains.

The Academic Decathlon team during one of their tournaments! Shreya Udani, second from left; Goldie Shen, far right.

The Academic Decathlon team during one of their tournaments! Shreya Udani, second from left; Goldie Shen, far right.

“Every year we are given an historic theme which the ten subjects revolve around; this year it is World War 1, and previous examples include Imperialism, the Great Depression, and the French Revolution,” explains Shreya Udani, also a co-captain. “We compete against other local schools in our annual regional competition in multiple choice test format for the 7 objectives [such as science, music, and economics].” Both captains enjoy history-related hobbies in their free time. Shen blogs about art history and enjoys historical fiction, movies, and older music. Udani collects souvenir cups during her travels to new states and new countries, and has collected around twenty so far.

Emma Li!

Emma Li!

“I have always admired history’s ability to relate the past and present and predict the future,” remarks Udani. “History has been a great quencher for my thirst for knowledge. To me, history is more than a bunch of dates and names; it is the study of humans from the beginning to now, the analysis of our progression and adaptation to our world.” Shen agrees, adding, “Just take any random object and phenomenon and you can hook a “history” onto the end of it. It’s documentation, and most of all, a story (after all, histoire is story in French). It’s good to remember that everybody will be a part of history, so they should strive to leave a positive legacy. On the other hand, in a purely aesthetic sense, there’s a lot about the past and its immutability that’s grand and romantic. Quite often, I have nostalgia for years that I didn’t even exist in just by viewing artifacts, listening to a song, or reading a book.”


Andrew Leung with his National History Bowl Junior Varsity Quarterfinalist plaque from the 2013 National History Bowl Championships.

Andrew Leung with National History Bowl Junior Varsity Quarterfinalist plaque.

One of the newest organizations on campus, History Bowl is a “buzzer-based academic quiz tournament competition whose fundamental gameplay is somewhat similar to Jeopardy,” says Yuqiao Zhao, one of next year’s co-captains. However, the questions are much more detailed and focus only on history. Two teams of four play against each other, with about seven games per tournament. Founded only two years ago, Arcadia High School’s History Bowl team has been undefeated in California and ranked 17th in the nation this year. “[History Bowl] fosters an interest in the study of history among students by creating a sense of achievement that can be associated with the study of history,” says Zhao.

Many of its members are very enthusiastic about the learning of history, such as Andrew Leung, the most decorated player in Arcadia’s History Bowl. “History is fun in the sense that it’s just stories, but with real people. As the famous philosopher Santayana once said, ‘Those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it.'”

This is during one of their practice scrims at Nationals. On the table are buzzers that are used during the tournament. (right Andrew, left Yuqiao).

Buzzers for Practice scrim at Nationals. (right Andrew, left Yuqiao).

History also allows incoming sophomore Joshua Jen, who played in Nationals this year, to “connect to the past and learn about so many different cultures and people” and to ” learn about my Asian background by studying all the Chinese dynasties and the emperors.”

This interest in history does not only apply in school related activities, however. “I used to read historical fictions and books on warfare for fun when I was a child,” says Leung, who now studies college level history and frequently visits Wikipedia. Jen enjoys traveling through Asia to “relive the history in real life,” in addition to reading about history online. Zhao chose to spend a part of his summer this year at Stanford University, where he is doing research on the Chinese Revolution of 1911. “The study of history is routinely overlooked in society in favor of something more ‘marketable’ like science or engineering,” remarks Zhao.

“The study of history allows us to realize how we got here and why we got here, and it is this process alone that allows us to truly understand our surroundings, and come up with a vision for the future.”

STUDENT COUNCIL HISTORICAL COMMISSION A part of Arcadia High School’s Student Council, the Student Council Historical Commission (SCHC) is dedicated to documenting and recording the history of Arcadia High School. Emma Li, one of SCHC’s members, helps to achieve this goal through interviews with alumni, former teachers, and current teachers.


Nationals team at Washington Monument.

“SCHC’s mission is to document the history of Arcadia High School, but the history of Arcadia High is often influenced by decisions regarding the city, and vice versa,” says Li. “Thus, in essence, a secondary goal of SCHC would also be to record some of the Arcadia’s history.” But history is not only a school activity for Li. She also volunteers at the Gilb Museum of Arcadia Heritage, where she helps expose children to history through the Hands on History program. She will be learning to organize and preserve the museum’s artifacts and collections in another year. “To me, history is a part of our identity. It has helped define society, which in turn, has influenced how each of us has developed as a person.”

Thank you to all the students for sharing your experiences! Best of luck to all of you and your organizations.

— By Emily Zheng


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