The Humanities and International Studies Program (HISP), the brainchild of former Principal Bill Morgan, was initially discussed in the fall of 1984 as a means to increase enrollment at C.K. McClatchy High School. A committee of eight CKM teachers looked at a variety of programs throughout the state and decided to institute a four-year liberal arts magnet that emphasized international studies and included reading, writing, and critical thinking skills as part of the core curriculum.

HISP was developed one year at a time with the first 120 students enrolled in the fall of 1985. The sophomore year was discussed and developed throughout the first year and the staff created two-hour blocks of English and social science in four areas: Africa, Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East. Teachers with interests in these areas were recruited for the second year. The sophomore year has proved to be truly unique and unlike any other magnet program in California.

The junior and senior years were initially developed so that students could take AP tests in U.S. History, U.S. Government, American Literature, and World Literature. The senior government class for spring was designed to emphasize international relations, and the World Literature class challenged seniors to read and analyze college-level literature.

The first class graduated in the spring of 1989. Approximately 70 of the remaining 90 students were accepted into four-year colleges and universities, where most graduated within four years. The program has since grown to over 550 students and virtually all graduates are accepted to four-year colleges and universities, many to the best institutions of higher learning in the country.

In the fall of 2010, HISP will celebrate its 25th anniversary. Over 2,500 students have graduated from the program and gone on to make their mark on the world.