High was a fantastic high school with great students and staff,
and I feel quite honored to have been a part of it. Here are
some of my remembrances of Arcadia High School past:
One of the most important remembrances that come to mind was
the introduction of the Musicals to Arcadia High School. This
was meant to be full productions, handled as completely as
possible by the entire school. In all we were able to produce
eight before calling it quits.
Our first attempt at the musical theater was with “L’il Abner”.
This was accomplished by our Drama teacher, Mr. Richard Wilson.
I would say that this came as a complete shock to him as he
had never done any musicals before. Too, he was just returning
from a one-year stint in the reserves. But the production
went forward. We knew very little about productions of this
magnitude that we went everywhere looking for answers and
When the day finally arrived, we were ready. Our performances
were staged at Monrovia High School auditorium and, even though
there were many hang-ups, the show was a big success. Because
of this success, it was decided that we would try another,
but not until we had time to recuperate from the first. So,
the faculty and administration that we would wait a year before
In 1966, two years later, and another Drama teacher, Mr. Marvin
Kirshman replacing Mr. Wilson, we began production on “Oklahoma”.
Again we attempted to make this an all school effort, but
some things even then were not to be. Mr. Kirshman did not
like the way the women P.E. teachers taught dance, so he went
to Melvin Kaiser’s Dance Studio on First Avenue and hired
them to teach the boys to dance. This was an enormous step
forward as it had been like pulling teeth to get the boys
to dance, much less trying to get them on stage to dance before
an audience of their peers. But the show must go on, and the
boys did such a fabulous job of dancing that at each performance
they were given a standing ovation by the audience that they
were given time each night to do an “encore”.
With the close of school that
year Mr. Kirshman informed the staff that he had been hired
by a college in Florida
and would be leaving us. But we did have two years to re-group.
Mr. Tom Payne
was then brought up from Dana and said he looked forward to
continuing the musicals, for which we were grateful. So in
1968, with the exception of a few backdrops, we went into
full production for our next production. Everything was done
by the high school classes; Shop helped build the stage sets,
Drama and Art classes did the painting of props and scenery,
Home Ec classes produced the costumes, Music classes produced
a wonderful orchestra and all the music, Student Body handled
ticket sales, Journalism and Student Body classes handled
the publicity, Girls’ Gym teachers and students handled the
dance instruction, Volunteers from other classes handled the
stage and any and all other things that needed to be done.
In this manner the stage sets were built in the Little Theater,
broken down and transported over to the Gym for rehearsals,
then broken down again and transported over to the San Gabriel
Civic Auditorium for the productions. Under Mr. Payne, Arcadia
High School produced the following:
“The Music Man"
1970 “How To Succeed
1972 “My Fair Lady”
1976 “George M”
“Fiddler On The Roof”
By the time the school
had reached the production of “Fiddler On The Roof”, many
members of the community were getting involved. At this point
there was so much pride in the productions and so much interest,
the community, under the guidance of Mr. Al Coke, put together
an Opening Night Black Tie dinner prior to the first night’s
performance and sold out before the publicity could even hit
By this time
though we had created a “tiger by the tail”. So much effort
had gone into these productions and so much energy had been
spent that we as a staff backed off to take another look at
the monster we had created. It was good experience for the
school and all of the many who participated, but it was beginning
to take its effects out on all of us. Mr. Payne almost had
a nervous breakdown during the rehearsals for “George M” and
in order to make dress rehearsal and opening night, the teachers
who were closely involved (i.e. Mr. Starr, Mrs. Voznick, Mr.
Gex) had to do dress rehearsal without Mr. Payne as the doctor
had ordered him to bed.
Also, the productions were
costing more than the amount of money taken in. With so much
going out for production costs, and the limited amount of
time for the musicals to be performed, it became a wise decision
by our administration that we as a school should put them
on hold. Thus the last musical, “Fiddler On The Roof”, became
our “swan song”.
While it is indeed unfortunate
that Arcadia High had to discontinue these wonderful musical
productions, AHS has always, and continues to, provide numerous
invaluable extra curricular activities and opportunities for
the thousands of great students that have and will always
pass through her halls and classrooms. I will always recall
with much love and fondness my nearly 30 years with my extended
family of Arcadia High School.