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Home / Neighborhood / San Gabriel Valley / Arcadia Weekly / K-pop star, Arcadia High alumnus Mark Tuan gives back to alma mater

K-pop star, Arcadia High alumnus Mark Tuan gives back to alma mater

by Guest Contributor
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By AUSD Digital Communications Intern Claire Li

“It was funny to watch students sprint to the ASB Office for a Mark Tuan hoodie right when the bell rang,” exclaimed Arcadia High Senior Michelle Chan. “It reminded me of the daily race to the school lunch line—something straight out of Hunger Games.”

Eager to purchase one of the 85 new Arcadia Country Club hoodies created by Arcadia High alumnus and K-pop star Mark Tuan, over 300 students at Arcadia High School dashed to line up after school at the Arcadia High ASB Office on Thursday, Jan. 12.

First discovered by a talent scout on Arcadia High’s campus, Mark Tuan is a rapper, singer, songwriter, and model who rose to fame as a member of GOT7, a South Korean boy band. Tuan was born in Los Angeles, spent time in countries like Paraguay and Brazil during his childhood, and returned to California, where he attended Dana Middle School and Arcadia High School

Mark Tuan (leftmost in the white suit) rose to fame as part of the Korean Boy Band GOT7. | Photo Courtesy of JYP Entertainment

As a member of GOT7, Tuan had multiple albums rise to number one in several countries, such as Japan, South Korea, the United States, Thailand, and more. The group recently decided to dedicate time to furthering their solo careers. Tuan’s debut solo album, “the other side,” details his personal journey and the darkness that accompanies being under the spotlight. 

“The whole album is very personal to me, simply because pretty much everything was from my experiences in Korea—be it the lonely times, hard times, the times I felt homesick or just stuff like that,” Tuan shared with Bandwagon. With songs like “far away,” which amassed over six million streams on Spotify, Tuan aims to let his audience know they are not alone.

In 2021, Tuan, in collaboration with merchandise brand Represent, released his streetwear brand XC3. XC3 is a twist on Tuan’s birth year, 1993, and ties Tuan’s personal touch to his love for streetwear and fashion. Next up, in 2022, Tuan founded a new clothing line: Arcadia Country Club. This latest line was inspired by Tuan’s time in Arcadia.

Accordingly, Tuan and his team wanted to shoot promotional pictures for the new Arcadia Country Club line at Tuan’s alma mater, Arcadia High School. Arcadia High was also the birthplace of Tuan’s professional career. During lunch one fateful school day, JYP Entertainment, one of the top three largest entertainment companies in South Korea that manages bands like Twice and Stray Kids, hosted an informational table on campus and discovered Tuan.

Though he was not initially vying for a career as a musician, with encouragement from friends and family, Tuan auditioned to be a trainee at JYP and passed performing acclaimed rapper Eminem’s song, “When I’m Gone.” After attending Arcadia High School until his sophomore year, Tuan moved across the globe to launch his entertainment career in South Korea.

Notable Arcadia High locations where Tuan’s newest collection was shot include the Arcadia High Snack Shack, track, tennis courts, and lunch tables. In a Twitch stream, Tuan shared that he and his team, many of whom are also Arcadia High alumni, wanted to take photos for the collection by the original lunch table where he was scouted; however, that exact area was changed when the school was remodeled.

Photo taken at the Arcadia High Snack Shack. | Photo courtesy of @dnaofficial on Twitter

Since the pandemic, this photoshoot was also the first to take place at Arcadia High.

“It’s always inspiring to see the amazing work of our Arcadia High alumni,” said Arcadia Unified Chief Communications Officer Ryan Foran.

“We very were happy to welcome Mark back to his old high school campus to help inspire a new generation of students and professionals and help them imagine a successful future for themselves.”

Foran worked alongside Arcadia Unified Public Information Officer Amber Nuuvali to coordinate the on-site photoshoot with Tuan and his team.

“Mark and his team reaching out to us for this photo shoot is a great example of how Arcadia Unified schools make a positive and profound impact in students’ lives, which keeps them connected to and inspired by this community long after they graduate,” Nuuvali said.

Tuan and his team kindly allowed students in Arcadia Unified’s Digital Communications Internship to follow along the professional photo shoot and made time for question-and-answer sessions with the models, photographers, Tuan’s professional team (many of whom are also Arcadia High alumni), and Tuan himself.

“It was a true win-win for everyone involved, and we are grateful for the experience for our students–current and past,” Foran said.

Arcadia Unified Digital Communications Interns with Mark Tuan after shadowing the Arcadia Country Club photoshoot. | Photo courtesy of AUSD

Apart from shooting photos of the clothing line at Arcadia High, Tuan also donated 85 hoodies to the school, allowing it to keep all proceeds for its Associated Student Body (ASB). ASB organizes and coordinates all student activities on campus, such as Homecoming, school assemblies, and numerous bonding events. Sales at Arcadia High took place on Thursday, Jan. 12 after school and was initially planned to operate on a first come, first served basis.

“Not even 20 minutes into sixth period [roughly an hour before school ended], you could see a huge line by the ASB Office,” Arcadia High senior Jacob Buan remarked.

Arcadia High Activities Director Peter Vo estimated at least 100 students were already waiting outside.

“At that point, we decided that to be fair to everybody that wants a chance to get the sweater, we would hold a raffle instead, so the students who did not have a free sixth period had an opportunity to actually join the raffle as well,” Vo explained.

Working on the fly with extra raffle tickets in storage, Vo noted, “Luckily, we had [ASB Accountant] Elias Chavez and [Activities Assistant] Shelly Aspeitia to help with that change of plans as well as some of the ASB students to help with the distribution.”

For Buan, the most stressful part of the experience was getting in line for a raffle ticket. “I left my AP Environmental Science class as soon as the bell rang and ran for the line.”

After that came the waiting.

“The rally court ended up being extremely crowded, but it was exciting to feel everyone’s collective anticipation and excitement for the raffle drawing,” Chan shared.

Junior Aileen Santoso added, “There were a lot of people screaming with excitement, including myself.”

“My heart kept jumping every time I heard the first three digits of my ticket. Just before I lost all hope, my number got pulled,” Buan recounted.

Senior Jacob Buan smiles with the Arcadia Country Club Hoodie after his raffle ticket was called. | Photo courtesy of Arcadia Unified School District Digital Communications Intern Ashley Chen

Like Tuan’s gesture, an air of giving back permeated the event. Both Buan and Chan stood in line for a raffle ticket not to win a hoodie for themselves but to give them to their friends.

Equally important is the connection between the Arcadia High K-pop idol and the current students. Vo emphasized appreciation for Tuan and his team for providing the school with an opportunity to raise money.

Santoso added, “I have been a fan of Mark Tuan for a few years, so being able to buy and win the raffle felt surreal.”

“Mark Tuan giving back to the school is amazing,” Buan reflected. “It just goes to show that this school and its environment really leaves a mark on people.”

The Arcadia Country Club Limited Edition Collection will be available until February and can be purchased by visiting xc3.co. A portion of the proceeds from the red and yellow Arcadia High colorway will be donated to the school. For more information about Arcadia High school, visit ahs.ausd.net.

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