From American Heritage Travel Clubs to the
Larry Wong American Heritage Foundation
The founding of the American Heritage Club dates back to the fall of 1980 at Norwalk High School. Three outstanding Americans, Shirley Wong, Senior Class President, Connie Spears, A.S.B. President, and Alejandra Menendez, Treasurer, were instrumental in the formation of this travel study group. Shirley Wong was as determined to charter this club as she was to make it to our nation's capital. Along with key members of the Class of 1980, Shirley labored long hours to charter this club and engineered a historic-making Washington, DC trip in May of 1980. The interest generated at Norwalk High School eventually spread to other schools in the district. The achievement of this group, well labeled by their advisor as the "blood, sweat, and tears" gang, will long be remembered.
The rebirth of the American Heritage Clubs began to take root at Neff High School under the encouraging administrative leadership of Les Billinger, principal on campus. Billinger then gave unprecedented support to Larry Wong, former teacher at Norwalk High who was transferred to Neff because of declining enrollment in the district. The spirit of Washington, DC began to spread on the Neff campus but school closures affected Neff High. This did not discourage students from implementing fundraisers to start on their historic journey to the nation's capital. By the summer of 1981, the combined students of Neff and LaMirada High worked diligently to reach their goal of visiting historic sites in the Washington, DC, Virginia, and Philadelphia area.
After conducting more than twenty-five educational tours to visit our nation's capital and devoting three decades to the students of the Norwalk-LaMirada Unified School District, Larry Wong retired from a most exciting and rewarding career. The ending of a teaching profession did not mean kicking back and watching the world go by. It became an opportunity to fulfill that dream by perpetuating the educational field trips to our nation's capital. So in December, 1997 the Larry Wong American Heritage Foundation was organized.
Mr. Wong continued perpetuating heritage tours with his efforts of acquiring corporate donations and organizing various fundraisers with students participating in the trip until his passing in 2007. Mr. Wong's legacy continues to live on with the support from many volunteers and in-kind donations.