The death of 16-year-old Alice Zhang sent shock waves through Arcadia High School Monday morning as students and teachers arrived back from Spring Break to face the tragic passing of one of their own.
AHS Principal David Vannasdall requested faculty members share the news of Zhang's death with students in their first period classes and a counselor was present in each of Alice's classrooms to support students and staff as they dealt with the shocking loss of a girl remembered for the impact she had both in the classroom and in the community.
“Alice was an excellent student with a 3.91 GPA and very connected to AHS outside of the school day. She was a member of the Track Team and looking forward to representing her school as a member of the prestigious Senior Men and Women next year. AHS will greatly miss Alice and the positive impact she had on the students and staff,” Principal Vannasdall wrote in an e-mail to Patch.
“It was a difficult and sad morning but also one of celebration for a life that has impacted so many people. Alice will be missed.”
According to Vannasdall, Zhang’s AP English teacher Johnny Lee had this to say:
"Alice is determined, friendly and inquisitive. She never wavered in any situation and smiled always. Behind her quiet exterior she is warm and passionate. She is what any person would be lucky to call a friend. She had the special aura that made everyone wish they knew her better. She stood out without needing to ask to standout.”
Zhang's friends, classmates and teammates are doing their part to make sense of the tragedy that took a young life far too soon.
Members of the Physics Team, which Zhang was a member of, are raising funds to help her family pay for her funeral. ”We all remember the moments she has brought for our team and we won't forget all of the fun and knowledge gained throughout the year with her," Arcadia High student and Physics Team member Daniel Liem said.
Arcadia High student Alwyna Lau started a Facebook event page in Zhang's memory. Hundreds of comments, tributes and "R.I.P."s have poured in from Alice’s friends and classmates within the matter of hours since the page's creation.
Students will remember Zhang, who was in her junior year at the school, with a moment of silence led by Arcadia High Student Body President Jon Ma Tuesday morning during a school assembly. Ma wasn’t in school today as he was still traveling due to Spring Break. Nevertheless, he felt the reverberations of Zhang’s death.
“… I got a call from Mr. Vannasdall our principal earlier in the day, and from what I heard it was devastating news. Alice was an accomplished scholar at our school. In fact, she was supposed to compete in the physics bowl competition today… As always we--the community, the school, the staff and students--will have her family in our prayers,” Ma said Monday afternoon.
Zhang was crossing Duarte Road Sunday night when she was struck by a motorist and killed. A 16-year-old Claremont High School student whose name has yet to be released was also hit by the car and suffered serious injuries in the accident. Though police are still investigating the circumstances of the collision, the driver of the vehicle is not being held.
Jennifer Landis, one of Zhang’s track coaches, found out the news by e-mail Monday morning. She gathered the track team at the end of the school day to reflect on Zhang’s death and have a moment of silence.
“It was very hard, and a lot of girls are taking it tough. But the distance girls and the cross-country girls are a very tight knit group… and they view themselves as a family. They’re falling back on that,” Landis said describing the mood of the shaken team.
Landis said the team will wear purple ribbons at Tuesday’s Pacific League track meet to honor their fallen teammate. Purple was Alice’s favorite color.
Landis called Alice the team’s “rock.”
“She was out there every single day doing her best. It was inspirational for the girls who struggle, and everyone struggles.
“… She just represents heart and dedication to everything.”
Patch Sports Editor David Ely contributed to this report.