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Arcadia High Students and Staff Reflect on Tragic Death of Alice Zhang

Late Arcadia High student remembered as ‘determined, friendly and inquisitive."

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.

yaya April 12, 2011 at 05:29 AM
very sad went i heard this news from my boys
Jasmine April 12, 2011 at 06:37 AM
She was one of the sweetest, most intelligent and most of all CARING girls in this world. On sunday, april 10, this earth lost an angel, and i'm PROUD to have known her in what little time she had here. RIP, Alice.
Patty April 12, 2011 at 06:41 AM
Very sad news. That crosswalk is very dangerous because all the cars go fast and try to make the light. Prayers and condolences to her family and friends.
Damon Lieu April 12, 2011 at 10:13 AM
Alice was also a peer tutor in the AHS peer tutoring program, so she definitely gave back to her fellow students. On a separate note, I would consider her high GPA to be one of her accomplishments.
B April 12, 2011 at 06:09 PM
Anonymous124, this isn't the place and time to complain about what they post. Be considerate and take it somewhere else. Nobody needs your negativity. RIP Alice Zhang. I'm praying for you and your family.
Stephanie Huang April 13, 2011 at 06:39 AM
I agree with Damon. Alice's high GPA IS one of her many accomplishments. This is truly a tragic loss. May she rest in peace.
Patty April 14, 2011 at 08:45 PM
As community we need to go to the city council meeting and have them revisit solutions to that crosswalk. If there was another death in Dec. that was hit and run then that is one too many. Senior citizens who also frequently use the crosswalk to go to the shopping center barely make it across the street in time. There must be a better solution either to put a stop sign or a crosswalk with more signs and lights that are visible when someone is crossing. A police officer a few years ago stated to me that the crosswalk was placed because people were jaywalking before. However, either education plus more signals need to be placed to avoid another tragedy.

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