In 1897, the year Placer High School was established with only 17 students, William McKinley was inaugurated as the 25th president of the United States. Fifteen men competed in the first Boston Marathon. The Library of Congress Building opened in Washington, DC. The Klondike gold rush began. And several renowned Americans were born, including aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart, Nobel Prize winning author William Faulkner, and baseball player Lefty O’Doul.
For more than 125 years, Placer High has stood on the hill as witness to modern history. From the horrors of war to the promise of peace…economic depressions to dot-com booms… horse drawn carriages to space travel… and everything in between, Placer
graduates have been an integral part of local and world history. Graduates have gone on to serve in congress, as WWII aces, cutting-edge scientists, distinguished judges, professional athletes, media stars, business leaders, and so much more.
The Engle Era
Dr. John F. Engle became principal of Placer High School in 1906 and began a long and illustrious 30-year career in which the school expanded from five teachers in one rickety wooden building to an 800-student faculty boasting five buildings and the creation of a junior college. At the same time the high school developed a reputation throughout the state as one of the finest secondary institutions of the Placer High School District which extended from Loomis to Lake Tahoe.
Several landmark buildings were added during Engle’s stay as principal. During the 1906-07 school years the original Sierra College wooden building was torn down and replaced
1906 Upper Campus Building
by a $40,000 building. The new building was a substantial brick structure consisting of 22 rooms on four levels, including a basement, and a large tin dome. Heating was by an automatic system which regulated both temperature and ventilation in every room. Within a few years statuary, pictures, and potted plants were added to beatify the interior of the school. The library was considered one of the finest in Northern California and the collection of American history in the History department was the best in Northern California.
In 1909 shower baths and lockers for the Athletes were installed downstairs in the new building. In the next few years tennis courts were finished on the site of the old wooden building and a football field and track were installed. By 1918 the school showcased a large wooden gymnasium with sideline seating and a stage. The year 1926, however marked the beginning of a new era for Placer when the music/auditorium and science wings were added and the brick building was plastered over to match the architectural style of the two new wings. The auto shop and bus shed building along Agard Street were also constructed at this time. Ten years later, building began on Placer Junior College buildings, gym and athletic field during the final year of Engle’s administration, 1936.
Athletics began to have an impact on the school during Engle’s tenure as well. In addition of a young coach from the University of California, Earl Crabbe, enabled the girls’ and boys’ basketball teams to create a dynasties of legendary significance. Between 1916 and 1920 his girls’ basketball team went 41-1 winning 37 games in succession at one point, compiling four straight undefeated seasons. Beginning in 1923 his boys’ basket ball teams won 16 out of 17 league championships, including 12 in a row. Crabbe also coached his men to eight Central California titles in 13 appearances.
Engle was at the helm as a student endured the tragedy of World War I when a junior Red Cross Club was organized on campus with girls learning to make surgical dressings and the entire school donating over $500 to a war drive. The Engle years also saw the formation of the first high school cadet corps in the State of California under the direction of Captain Fred S. Roumage, a National Guard officer and later captain in France in World War I.
The year 1914 marked the birth of the Placer High School district, thus again changing the names of the school to Placer High School. That same year college level classes were revived after having disappeared several years earlier. However, due to the enrollment drain caused by World War I, the junior college was abandoned by 1920.
Certain ceremonies were now becoming traditional such as the Freshman Reception, the Christmas Jinx, the Junior Prom, the Senior Ball, Senior Picnic, and the Graduation and Alumni Dance. Participation in clubs and organization also grew, beginning with the Agricultural Science Organization which became the Future Farmers of America, the oldest club in existence. During the period of time the Placer Band came into prominence under the guidance of Otto Fox, entertaining the school and the community at various concerts and public performances.
Academics also took on prominence during the Engle principalship. A four year curriculum became the norm with students tracked into Classical, Scientific, or Commercial fields of study. All paths were stiffly challenging with semester finals a dreaded period of time for the students. Miscreant students were dealt with severely and Detention became an unwelcome punishment. Still, Engle and his vice-Principal E.F. Waldo were highly respected by the students and could be seen attending various cultural, social and Athletic events at the school.
FOUNDATION FOUCS: OUR IMPACT AREAS
We empower students, faculty, and staff for enhanced learning through grants, tech initiatives, and scholarships, propelling them into a successful future beyond high school.
Hillmen Foundation fuels athletic achievements through grants, enhancing safety, facilities, and community fitness.
We foster holistic education by supporting diverse activities through grants, enriching students' experiences beyond the classroom.
Placer High's rich history shines through alumni activities, fostering a strong network connecting generations and the community.
Placer High's prime Auburn location fuels community growth, enhancing facilities and programs through strategic grants.
Students, faculty and staff apply for and receive educational grants for a wide range of needs that are typically not covered by state funding. Every year, thousands of dollars are granted to enrich academics, athletics and activities that directly benefit students, our feeder schools, and community. Examples of these grants include support for:
Grants for alumni programs help highlight distinguished graduates and their impact in the community and world, as well as connect Hillmen of all ages to their alma mater. These grants include:
- Alumni Bricks Courtyard
- Alumni Center
- All Class Reunion
- Centennial Celebration
- Placer Hall of Fame
- Athletic Hall of Fame
- Central Square Tiles in Memory of our Founder Jug Covich and Long-time Board member/Distinguished Alumni Ty Rowe
SPECIAL CAPITAL PROJECTS & INITIATIVES
Special grants for capital improvements or other major initiatives that enhance both the school and community are a significant hallmark of the Foundation’s work over the past three decades. Here are examples:
- Campus Gateway Centennial Arch
- Iron Hillmen Sculpture Base
- Athletic Complex Campaign
- All Weather Track
- Stadium Scoreboard
- Stadium Sound System & Speakers
- Stadium Lights
- Stadium Snack bar Roof
- Sherbina Water Fountain Restoration
- Press Box Renovation
- Track Walkway
- Earl Crabbe Gym Snack Shack
The Hillmen Foundation strives to connect our alumni with their classmates and the school that launched the lives of generations of Auburn teens.
● The new Alumni Center in the Earl Crabbe Gym reminds visitors of the Hillmen legacy of achievement in our community and world.
● We are proud supporters of the Placer Hall of Fame and the Placer Athletic Hall of Fame, honoring distinguished graduates, faculty, staff, and coaches.
● Grants to the widely-attended All-Class Reunions and Centennial Celebration united Hillmen of all ages and brought economic benefit to the entire community.
Clarence "Bud" Anderson and Dean "Diz" Laird
● Our special events, such as the popular Hillmen Tailgater in Central Square, have honored Hillmen Heroes like WWII fighter aces Clarence “Bud” Anderson and Dean “Diz” Laird (both class of 1939), and served as a mini-reunion for graduates and friends.
● Individual class reunions are also supported by The Hillmen Foundation, including maintaining a master list of graduates by class.
WE CANNOT DO IT WITHOUT YOU!
YOUR FINANCIAL IMPACT
Every donation, regardless of size, will positively impact Placer High students, our community, and life on the Hill. All contributions to
the Hillmen Foundation are tax deductible in accordance with state and federal tax laws.
In the best of times, in the worst of times, at all times… It’s great to be a Hillman!
The purpose of the Hillmen Foundation is to support Placer High School in the areas of academics, student activities, and athletics, including the staff, students, and alumni endeavors of the school; to stimulate gifts of service, endowments, and bequests; and to maintain an association of persons interested in Placer High School.
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P.O. Box 6115 Auburn, CA 95604
Tax ID #68-0168995
Copyright ©2023 All rights reserved
NEWS AND EVENTS
Fresh Updates Await Your DISCOVERY
Explore Placer High School's vibrant academics, activities, and athletics, keeping you connected to the staff, students, and valued alumni, uniting a passionate community supporting the school.
Embarking on a new era, Placer High School welcomes Jaime Jackson as its first female Principal in 126 years. With 17 years of teaching experience and a commitment to student success, Jaime, a devoted... ...more
Shana Fain McDonald ,Placer High School
November 22, 2023•1 min read
Placer High, a community pillar for 126 years, thrives with the Hillmen Foundation. Since 1989, this nonprofit unites alumni and community to boost academics, athletics, and student activities. With $... ...more
Hillmen Foundation ,Shana Fain McDonald
November 22, 2023•4 min read
Join us in celebrating 35 years of the Hillmen Foundation's impactful journey with Placer High School. From overcoming funding cuts to enriching education, we've shaped a legacy that endures. ...more
Bob Burge ,Hillmen Foundation
November 16, 2023•6 min read