Jack Hill, North High’s first principal, opened North High in the fall of 1953 with freshmen and sophomores. From the beginning, he realized that athletics complemented academics and was a very important part of the overall school curriculum.
Jack had been the principal at Shafter High School since 1942 and had built a very strong and dedicated faculty at that school. He brought many of his first faculty from Shafter and they filled many of the important positions at North. He paid special attention to athletics. Two of North’s first coaches who were hired by Jack are being honored tonight: Dick Heber and Jordan Eliades.
Jack had an outstanding sports background in his own right. An all-sport performer at Pomona High School in Southern California, some of his records still stand to this day – 90 years after his high school career.
After high school, he went to the University of California at Berkeley where he pitched and played outfield for the Golden Bears. In 1927 he was part of the Golden Bear team that traveled to Japan to teach the Japanese people about the sport of baseball.
In 1929, he signed with the Cincinnati Reds and was thought to be one of three (3) “can’t miss” players in the National League.
As sometimes happens, fate took a turn that would change the course of Jack Hill’s life that fall when his father died of a sudden unexpected heart attack. Jack quickly left the Reds to return home for the funeral and to help his brother with the family business. He was never able to go back to Cincinnati.
Jack and his brother tried in vain to keep the family business going, but, it finally went under during the height of the Great Depression in 1933. At that point Jack figured that the baseball career was over and he went back to finish his degree at Fresno State and also get a teaching credential.
His first teaching job was at Vineland School locally and then he was in the group that started East High in 1938. In the meantime he had married the love of his life, Blanche Cook in 1934 and Jack and Blanche started a family in 1940.
Jack taught history and economics at East High and was an assistance football coach and varsity baseball coach. He was promoted to be principal at Shafter High in 1942 and stayed there until North High opened.
Jack’s stay at North High was cut short in May of 1955 by a sudden and fatal heart attack at the age of 48. Although Jack died way before he was able to see the full greatness of North, Blanche carried on his legacy raising two sons before she went to be with Jack in 2003 at the age of 96.