San Benito County has seen its share of divisive issues in
recent years, what with Measure G, the Independence Day Motorcycle
Rally and more recently the future site of a local Gavilan College
Hollister – San Benito County has seen its share of divisive issues in recent years, what with Measure G, the Independence Day Motorcycle Rally and more recently the future site of a local Gavilan College campus.

Now another issue is brewing that could polarize Hollister once again, as a movement to change the name of San Benito High School to Hollister High is swiftly gaining momentum among both students and the community at large.

“I wouldn’t say we’re trying to change the name,” said Bill Johnson, SBHS science teacher and alum. “We’re just trying to make official that which has always been.”

Though the school has never been officially named Hollister High – it was founded as San Benito Joint Union High School, and the Joint Union was dropped in the 1980s – students and alumni alike have often referred to their school as such for various reasons.

“It just sounds better,” said Stephanie James, ASB spokesperson. “The Hollister Haybalers, that’s how everyone knows us.”

Until recently, SBHS was effectively the only high school in the county, so whatever name individuals chose to use was of little consequence. Many of the athletic uniforms even feature the letter “H” for Hollister.

“Whenever I see the letters SB creeping into the new athletic uniforms, it makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up,” Johnson said. “Ask any of the athletes who they play for and they’ll tell you Hollister, not San Benito.”

“I think it gets confusing when our athletes travel to other schools,” James said. “The uniforms say they’re from Hollister, but they go to San Benito, and it would just be easier if it was all the same name.”

With the advent of San Andreas School and Anzar High School in San Juan, however, many feel that the current name is increasingly becoming a misnomer.

“It’s becoming pretty obvious that soon we’re going to need more than one high school here in town,” Johnson said. “No one wants to change the name of the district, but a lot of us old-timers would much rather see this campus stay Hollister High and we can worry about whatever we’re going to name the other school later.”

The student council voted in early February to explore the possibility of a name change, and will be distributing surveys to the student body and attempt to gauge the community’s feelings on the issue. So far, student response has been largely in favor of a name change, says James.

“Everybody thinks it’s a good idea,” she said. “It has a better ring to it and it captures the history of the school better.”

Should the student council decide to support a name change, the matter will go before members of the Board of Trustees, who will make their own efforts in determining the community’s wishes. However, trustees and administrators are cautious of the hidden work and financial implications a name-change might entail. Assistant Principal Duane Morgan said the process is “a paperwork and bureaucratic nightmare.”

“I think we need to look at this very carefully, you don’t just want people going back and forth changing the name every few years,” said trustee Evelyn Muro. “You’d have to change the signs, the marquis, the letterhead, there’s some expense involved.” No timeline for discussing the matter officially has been established by the board.

Advocates of the change, however, believe that creative solutions can be thought up to work around any costs incurred.

“If you need to change the letterhead, you can just use what you have until it’s gone and order new ones down the road,” Johnson said. “And the main building is still the district office. No one needs to buy any new signs. You just have to chisel the word ‘District’ into the sign out front.”

While even the staunchest proponents of the proposed change to Hollister High admit that not everyone may be too worried about the name of the local high school, for long-time ‘Balers, the change is a long time coming.

“I support Bill Johnson’s efforts 100 percent,” said Sheriff Curtis Hill, an SBHS alum. “When we heard about it, my wife and I both said ‘Good, it’s about time.’ We’re the Hollister High Haybalers, and that’s just how it should be.”

Danielle Smith covers education for the Free Lance. Reach her at 637-5566, ext. 336 or [email protected]

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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