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EHHS Introduces Three Newest Distinguished Alumnus

FORT WORTH, TEXAS (Oct. 8, 2016) – Eastern Hills High School, a tradition-rich, 56-year-old Fort Worth ISD school located in east Fort Worth, introduced the three new members to its prestigious Distinguished Alumnus Hall of Fame.  The accolades were presented during the EHHS-Dunbar H.S. football game at Clark Stadium during the first annual Eastside Family Unity game created by the Eastside Alliance Community Partnership and the Historic Stop Six Initiative to display eastside pride and illustrate how each school is focused on creating a positive atmosphere for success in college, career and community leadership.

The EHHS Distinguished Alumnus honorees included Jane Hampton Cook, an illustrious author, media personality and former White House staff member who was unable to travel from her home on the East Coast; Lieutenant Colonel John D. Martinko, who is a prominent senior United States Marine Corp officer; and John Sparks, an award-winning broadcast journalist. They join the ranks of 28 other Distinguished Alumnus whose ranks include Pulitzer Prize winners, Super Bowl players, and leaders in business, medicine, politics, law, public service, entertainment, sports and philanthropy.

“We are blessed to have numerous alums who have gone on from Eastern Hills to create amazing career success impacting the lives of countless other people,” said Principal Chad McCarty, who is also an EHHS graduate. “Our 2016 inductees are exceptional role models for today’s students and clearly illustrate that the pursuit of excellence and service is something each and every one of us is capable of achieving. In fact, Mr. Sparks lectured to our journalism class just yesterday, and we are working on bringing back other distinguished alums as often as possible to show today’s students how hard work and dedication pay off.”

Lieutenant Colonel John D. Martinko, Class of 1988 

John Martinko Lieutenant Colonel John D. Martinko is also a 1988 graduate of EHHS.  He attended Texas A&M University and graduated in 1993 with a BS in Engineering Technology with Mechanical Specialty. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in May 1993 in the United States Marine Corps. 

Lieutenant Colonel Martinko has had a long and distinguished military career serving the United States and its allies.  His assignments in the Operating Forces include: Engineer Bridge Platoon Commander, Alpha Company Commander, and 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit Engineer Detachment Commander where he supported Operation SOUTHERN WATCH (1993-1998); 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion Logistics Officer, Bravo Company Commander, Operations Officer, and Assistant Operations Officer where he deployed in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM and Operation IRAQI FREEDOM (2000-2003); Executive Officer of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit where he supported Operation CARING RESPONSE (2007-2008); 1st Marine Logistics Group Assistant Operations Officer and military planner (2008-2009); I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) and NATO Regional Command (South West) Current Operations Officer in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM in Afghanistan (2009-2011); Marine Forces Command Force Engineer Officer (2011-2012); 7th Engineer Support Battalion  Commanding Officer (2012-2014); and I Marine Expeditionary Force Engineer Officer (2015-2017).

Other assignments include:  Minefield Maintenance Section Officer In Charge at Guantanamo Bay Cuba where the section was responsible for removing all remaining known mines, clearing all unknown mines, and verifying the 453 acres of minefields that encompassed the Guantanamo Naval Base (1998-2000); and Senior Marine Officer Instructor at Texas A&M University (2003-2006) where he taught leadership, management, and military tactic classes to all collegiate levels. 

In addition to The Basic School and the Engineer Officers Course, Lieutenant Colonel Martinko is a graduate of the Army’s Engineer Captains Career Course in Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.; the Army’s Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kan.; and The National War College in Washington D.C.  He has earned a Master of Science Degree in Engineer Management from the University of Missouri, Rolla and a Master of Science Degree in National Security Strategy from National Defense University.

Lieutenant Colonel Martinko is married to the former Catherine Palmer, who he met while attending college, and they have three children. During his time in the military, Lieutenant Colonel Martinko has lived in two foreign countries and seven different states, and his duties have taken him to over 24 different countries of the world.  He will retire from the United States Marine Corps in 2017 with more than 24 years of active duty service and return to Texas.


John Sparks, Class of 1965

John Sparks John Sparks is a 1965 graduate of EHHS.  After departing the Hills, Sparks went on to earn a BS with honors in Radio-TV-Film from the University of Texas in Austin and then his master of arts in journalism from North Texas State University.

His life-long career in broadcast journalism started at WFAA-TV (ABC) in Dallas where he spent more than a decade in such positions as election and political producer, executive news producer and executive sports director. After a brief stop as managing editor at KDFW-TV, he became the managing editor and director of new media development for KXAS-TV in Fort Worth.  His talents then led him to serve in various producer and assignments roles for such media outlets as A.H. Belo Corp., ARD German Television, WNBC-TV (NBC) in New York, and a seven year stint as the executive producer of investigations and political coverage at KTVT-TV in Dallas-Fort Worth.

In recent years, Sparks has served as a lecturer for the Mayborn School of Journalism at the University of North Texas, co-host of the Texas Daily on KTXD-TV in Dallas-Fort Worth, and senior editor of “Pebbles and Pundits” for the Marist Poll-Marist Institute for Public Opinion.

Sparks’ list of awards and recognitions places him among the best-of-the-best of the nation’s broadcast journalists.  He is a recipient of the University of Southern California Annenberg-Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Broadcast TV Political Journalist; the George Foster Peabody Award; the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalist; the Northeastern University Award for Excellence in Sports Journalism; and the Emmy Award from the New York Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for Outstanding Investigative Journalism.

In addition, Sparks has produced or assisted with production of television coverage of the John F. Kennedy assassination, the World Trade Center attack, and local, state and national political coverage.  One noteworthy highlight came when he broke the story of continued payments to Southern Methodist University football players in the 1970s and ‘80s that resulted in the NCAA’s first, and only “death penalty” for a college violating rules and regulations. The cheating revelations resulted in widespread reform within all NCAA institutions and is often pointed to as a watershed moment for amateur collegiate athletics.


Jane Hampton Cook, Class of 1988

Jane Hampton Cook Jane Hampton Cook is a 1988 graduate of EHHS, and she was previously recognized by the Fort Worth ISD as a member of its Wall of Fame celebrating the success of alums from throughout the District.  She is a national media commentator, columnist and award-winning author. She is known for bringing history and biographies to life, making them memorable and relevant to today’s news, current events, politics, issues of faith, and modern-day life. She is the author of seven books, including her newest two books, America's Star-Spangled Story (June 14, 2014, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas) and American Phoenix (May 7, 2013, Thomas Nelson).

Cook served former President George W. Bush for five years, including three in the Texas governor’s office and two years in the White House as deputy director of Internet news services. Her enthusiasm for history skyrocketed when she discovered that writing historical stories for were among the site’s most popular pages. The experience cemented her decision to passionately pursue U.S. history topics as an author. 

She is frequent guest on the Fox News Channel and numerous other television, radio, online, and print outlets. The National Press Club member has appeared in several historical documentaries and hosted an online documentary. As a public speaker, she focuses on topics that transcend generations, such as courage, freedom, founding principles, patriotism, leadership, communication, and womanhood. She has spoken at the White House, Pentagon, Heritage Foundation, Texas Book Festival, and many universities, professional organizations, and non-profit groups.  

Cook received a fellowship from the Organization of American Historians and the White House Historical Association in 2003 to conduct historical research on the White House, presidents, and first ladies. She can both "Sic'em" and "Gig'em," receiving a bachelor's degree from Baylor University and a master's degree in higher education administration from Texas A&M University.  Today Cook resides in Fairfax, Va., with her husband and three sons.