You couldn’t buy an acre of land in Arcadia for $200,000 nowadays but in 1875 one “lucky” man purchased 8,000 acres that included all of what we now know as Arcadia plus parts of what would become Sierra Madre, Monrovia, and other neighboring cities. “Lucky” Baldwin, or Elias J. Baldwin, bought that 8,000 acres of fertile land for a mere $200,000 from Harris Newmark, land that when he first saw it caused him to famously exclaim, “By Gads! This is paradise!”
More than a century later, the city he named Arcadia seems to remain a paradise. From its successful local businesses to its excellent education system, Arcadia may just be a perfect community. But underlying the opulent mansions and the popular race track, there exists a problem that not many address: civic activism, primarily among the youth.
The lack of civic engagement stems primarily from the academic and social environment in Arcadia schools — particularly at Arcadia High School. With 3,600 students, almost all fighting to be admitted to an Ivy League university, there is both academic excellence and heavy involvement in a plethora of extra-curricular activities. While admirable, this energy should also be put into the community. After all, this very community has given students the opportunities and resources they heavily rely on to pursue their individual goals.
Additionally, as members of a democratic society who will soon be allowed to vote and contribute to our nation, there is a civic responsibility to a country that has “had a sharp decline in civic engagement” (Robert Putnam, Political Scientist).
As eight students of Arcadia High School, we recognize this issue and hope to combat it. Together, we have formed the Arcadia Civic Youth Council to promote civic virtue and active community involvement within the youth, thereby bridging the gap between Arcadia’s young citizens and their community. As the future leaders of this country, it is our responsibility to collectively engage with the community. Indeed, Mr. Baldwin may say that “this is paradise,” but it is our paradise — it is our duty to maintain it.
Editor’s note: Student members of the newly-formed Arcadia Civic Youth Council, under the umbella of the non-profit Arcadia’s Best Foundation community events organization, are Jacy Duan, Will Han, Kelsea Jeon, Diana Lam, Soham Patel, Donna Sayphraraj, and Arianna Togelang, and Emily Zheng.
If you are interested in joining us, then please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, “like” us on Facebook at Arcadia Civic Youth Council, and watch out for our blog posts on this ArcadiasBest.com blog. Together, we can restore our paradise.