Jack Hilton was a 1934 graduate of Bakersfield High School who, after attending college and serving in the armed forces, came back to Bakersfield for a career in the Bakersfield high school system which led to his becoming a very important part of the inception of North High.
He started out at North when the school opened in 1953 as the Vice Principal and Director of Athletics. After the untimely death of the first Principal Jack Hill, he became the school’s Principal in July of 1965. He stayed in that position until 1969 when he became the District Director of General Services before retiring in 1973.
He had an outstanding football career at BHS (then Kern County Union High School) where he played for a couple of coaching legends, Jack Frost (JV) and “Goldie” Griffith (Varsity). His teams went 3 years without a loss as he starred as a running back.
After High school, he enrolled at Washington State on a football scholarship, but the cold weather drove him home. In 1935, after enrolling at San Jose State, he played safety and left half back on the football team and quickly earned the nickname “snakehips” for his running ability. In his senior year, he received an award for “Superior Skill and Sportsmanship.” In addition, he was the junior class President and later the Student Body President.
His first teaching/coaching job came in 1939 at East High where he became a Physical Education Teacher and assistant Varsity Football coach. In 1942, he enrolled in the Army Air Force as a 2nd Lieutenant and was stationed in Houston, Texas where he became Director of Physical Education. After returning to Bakersfield, he joined the staff of BHS as Dean of Students and was the Driller’s backfield coach from 1948-1953.
In 1953, Jack was given the opportunity for—what was probably the high point of his career—to participate in the opening of a new high school—North High! He told his daughter that joining the staff of a new high school was one of the best experiences an educator could have. His guiding hand in coordinating and developing the athletics program along with the coaches and students was a real highlight. He also believed that athletics was very important to the overall high school experience, fostering leadership, sportsmanship, teamwork and honesty–qualities that would develop contributing members of society.
Jack Hilton was all about doing things the right way, working hard, keeping his word and interfacing with students and staff. He believed in giving people additional chances to be successful, particularly young people. He had a great belief in the goodness of people and worked hard to bring out that goodness.
To quote his daughter Janet, “He had many wonderful experiences in his life, and being instrumental in the development of North High along with its athletic program was undoubtedly one his greatest memories.”