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     Dr. Richard W. Cordano





I had the pleasure of being your Principal for several years and was witness to many changes at AHS. I know that you will enjoy looking through all that this website has to offer, recalling memorable events, pep rallies, music concerts, sports activities, old friends and meeting new friends.

I came to Arcadia from John Muir High in Pasadena, where I had been Assistant Principal. I’ve always considered myself to be quite lucky to have had the opportunity to have worked with and known so many wonderful students, staff and families through the years. After I retired as Principal, I went to work with the California State Lottery as a Sales Supervisor for 13 years. I still have frequent contact with most of the AHS teachers as we hold an annual reunion of all the staff. Arcadia High will always hold special memories for me, as I know it does for all of you.



As many of you know, Arcadia was once a part of the Spanish, and later Mexican, empire and a part of a 21 square mile area called Rancho Santa Anita. In 1845, a Scottish settler, Hugo Reid, purchased Rancho Santa Anita from Governor Pio Pico. Through the years, five owners occupied Rancho Santa Anita until 1875 when Elias “Lucky” Baldwin bought the land. The future of the city of Arcadia was interwoven with the fortunes of Baldwin, who increased his land holdings to some 50,000 acres in the San Gabriel Valley. The Arcadia School District came into existence simultaneously with the incorporation of Arcadia as a city in 1903.

In the very early 1950’s, all high school students of Arcadia, Monrovia and Duarte attended the same high school, Monrovia Arcadia Duarte High School, more commonly called MAD High. In 1951, with a burgeoning population, Arcadia residents were asked to approve a bond measure that called for the construction on a new high school in Arcadia. After passage, construction began and Arcadia High welcomed its first freshman and sophomore classes in the fall of 1952. However, many students were “housed” at First Avenue, the oldest school in Arcadia, having been built in 1903. Gradually, new buildings went up and by the 1954/55-school year, all high school students in Arcadia were attending Arcadia High.

One of the first decisions to be made was the naming of a school mascot. In a citywide contest, the landslide winner was Apaches. With the selection of that name came the fighting spirit, the singleness of purpose and the tenets, which have grown with the school from the very beginning. 

Senior Square and Class Signatures were started in 1958. The “Big A”, that sits atop the school gym and announces school victories, was erected in 1965. The tory gate, a symbol of entrance to the campus was dedicated in 1967.  

Students through the years have changed, but are still, and always will be, the cornerstone of Arcadia High. With the 1960’s, the country was still in a state of shock following the assassination of President Kennedy, we saw the first changes surface; poetry readings in the cafeteria, a desire to do away with the dress code and longer hair on the boys. In addition, students first wanted to do away with the closed campus policy. 

In the mid-1970’s the dress code and closed campus policies were both dropped. Much of the change we witnessed was brought about by the U.S. Supreme Court decision stating, “A student doesn’t shed his rights at the school house door.” At this time, the student population of Arcadia High peaked at about 3,300 students. Students also, for the first time, received representation on the School Board. They had a right to elect a representative to attend School Board meetings and represent students. The Student Council had practically full control over the student body budget.

By the time the mid-1980’s arrived, enrollment had dropped substantially to about 2,200 students, due to an aging population in Arcadia. Due to changing population demographics since then, enrollment has dramatically increased in the 1990’s.

The most notable changes that I’ve witnessed is that many things that they do things now in High School, that used to be done in college and Junior High students are now doing what used to be High School level work. They are more mature and more knowledgeable of the contemporary world than they used to be. By 1975, calculators and computers had begun to invade the classroom and that trend has not stopped. Due to this and the widespread use of media, the methods of presenting information to students had totally changed.

Arcadia High has enjoyed more than its share of awards and recognition through the years. The Apache Marching Band has won more than 30 major championships and has been honored to march in the Tournament of Roses Parade four times. AHS athletics are among the best in Southern California in all sports for boys and girls on all levels. Most importantly, Arcadia High ranks, scholastically, in the 99th percentile of all California High Schools.

Tens of thousands have graduated from Arcadia High School throughout the past 50 years and have made it the great institution it is today.


Teaching children is a very rewarding career. A person gets back emotionally twice what they give. It is a long-term commitment that becomes even more fulfilling the longer one stays in the profession. It is truly “a never a dull moment” type of career with great highs and very few lows.

The best way to get the most out of education is to apply oneself to everything that is presented to them.  Parents play a pivotal role in providing an educational environment for their children; a place to study, interest in school, support of the educational program of the district. Children should endeavor to gain additional educational experiences through extra activities, band, athletics, clubs and volunteerism in the community.




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