On behalf of Milton Hershey School, I am proud to share this Brown and Gold report as insight into the many successes our MHS community has achieved during the 2016-17 school year. The year began with the Opening of School Assembly—a celebratory event with the entire MHS community that inspired our more than 2,000 students to dream and pursue those dreams without hesitation.
For students, staff, alumni, parents, and sponsors, our school is a place of life-changing opportunity. With an unwavering commitment to our founders’ timeless vision, we prepare students to succeed at levels they never imagined possible. Our whole child approach to education empowers students to overcome obstacles that stem from poverty. We not only encourage them to set goals—we teach them how to reach their goals through individualized attention and award-winning programs that develop leadership, character, and a growth mindset. During the last year, our Career and Technical Education program received national attention for its rigorous academic coursework and work-based learning experiences that promote career exploration.
In this report, you will learn about the excellent education and nurturing environment our school provides as well as our committed staff members who have made it their lives’ work to help our students realize their full potential. We are proud to know our employees find their work fulfilling, voting us one of the Best Places to Work in PA for the third consecutive year.
As MHS President, I am honored to lead our home and school as we further our mission to improve the lives of children in need. As work continues on our Legacy Campus to grow enrollment to 2,300 children, we are filled with excitement about providing life-changing opportunities to more students than ever before.
Peter G. Gurt ’85
Milton Hershey School began as a dream and vision shared by Hershey Chocolate Company founder Milton S. Hershey and his wife Catherine. Unable to have children of their own, Milton and Catherine used their wealth to create a home and school for orphaned boys in 1909. Following Mrs. Hershey’s death, Mr. Hershey donated his personal fortune to establish the Milton Hershey School Trust to ensure the school would serve children in financial and social need in perpetuity—as he and Catherine intended.
Mr. Hershey was quoted as saying, “If we had helped 100 children, it would have all been worthwhile.” Today, Milton Hershey School is a cost-free, private, coeducational school for more than 2,000 children from families of lower income. The Hersheys’ generosity has changed the lives of more than 10,000 alumni—leaving behind an inspirational legacy of what one can achieve with the drive and passion to pursue a dream.
Since its creation 108 years ago, Milton Hershey School has used its holistic approach to education to help students overcome barriers that stem from poverty. MHS offers children from financially disadvantaged backgrounds a path to a brighter future with an excellent education, nurturing home life, comprehensive health and wellness care, and college and career readiness support.
Every student’s MHS story begins with their parent’s or sponsor’s decision to enroll them. For many that decision is both the hardest and greatest decision they will ever make for their child.
For Tammie Aaron-Barrada, mother of two MHS graduates, that decision came after the heartbreaking loss of her husband and their third child. Struggling financially, Tammie enrolled her children Omar and Laila and today credits MHS with giving them the life-changing opportunity to realize their full potential.
During the 2016-17 school year, MHS reached an enrollment of 2,018 students, including the greatest number of elementary and middle school students ever to attend the school. The school also achieved a retention rate of 90.7 percent—exceeding the average retention rate of 89.6 percent for other independent schools across the country.
While the Federal Poverty Guideline for a family of four stood at $24,600 for 2017, the average family income for students enrolled in 2016-17 was $21,361, 15 percent below the guideline.
Poverty creates complex, multi-layered obstacles to students’ success. Many experience a combination of homelessness, family member incarceration, hunger, and neighborhood violence. Fifty percent of our students have experienced family substance abuse.
By using a whole child approach to educate and care for children, our school enables students to break the cycle of poverty and harness the power of life-changing opportunity.
Recent graduate Eli Conniff ’17 believes the school saved his life. Before enrolling in fourth grade, Eli knew how it felt to go hungry. At MHS, Eli caught up on his academics while being able to be a kid. He didn’t have to worry about having a warm meal on the table, clothing, or the hardships caused by poverty and his parents’ drug and alcohol issues. In the fall of 2017, Eli began his freshman year in the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.
Milton Hershey School is not just a school. For more than 2,000 young people, it also is a home.
Our MHS community includes children and adults whose diversity and personal experiences help create a warm, accepting community. We promote a culture of inclusiveness that is rooted in our Sacred Values of integrity, positive spirit, commitment to mission, and mutual respect.
Students live and learn in classrooms and student homes led by highly trained professionals who celebrate the unique talents of each individual. Clubs and programs like the Viva Diversity Club and Multicultural and Global Education program demonstrate the school’s commitment to helping students immerse themselves in other cultures and explore other ways of life.
At MHS, students experience a supportive and nurturing environment and are free to develop physically, intellectually, spiritually, and socially.
<1% Native American
Our highly-trained, qualified teachers, dedicated houseparents, and adult mentors not only teach students why it’s important to do their best, they teach them how to be successful.
Designed to prepare each student for the rigors of postsecondary education, the world of work, and personal excellence, our academic program incorporates experiential learning, hands-on experience, career readiness, and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math). Students are exposed to real-world, project-based learning that empowers them to apply their knowledge, take on new challenges, and achieve postsecondary success.
State-of-the-art facilities and technology in the classroom create student-centered learning environments that are rich in problem-solving, critical thinking, and creativity.
For the last eight years, 100% of graduating seniors earned at least one industry recognized certification in their career field of study.
100% of 2015, 2016, and 2017 graduates earned at least two industry-recognized certifications.
Our award-winning Career and Technical Education (CTE) program encourages students to explore career options by giving them tailor-made instruction in their chosen career paths. The CTE program also provides students with authentic work experiences through internships that match their chosen career pathways.
MHS student Nate Gourley’s internship with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission gave him the hands-on learning and real-life experience he needs to reach his goal of becoming a wildlife biologist.
In the spring of 2017, our school’s Law, Public Safety, and Security career pathway was awarded the Excellence in Action Award from Advance CTE, an organization that advocates for high-quality career and technical education programs throughout the nation. The honor recognizes our CTE program’s track record of providing clear pathways into college and careers, rigorous academic and hands-on coursework, strong partnerships, and impactful work-based learning experiences that promote career exploration.
MHS students gain insight into college by taking actual college courses—earning credits from Temple University, Lebanon Valley College, Elizabethtown College, and Harrisburg Area Community College, all before receiving their high school diploma.
Students scoring proficient or above on PSSA (grades 3-8) and Keystone (high school) exams.
ED – Economically Disadvantaged
Source: Spring 2017 Pennsylvania Keystone
Exams State Content Area Summary Report
Our Year-Round Experiences (YRE) program provides students from at-risk home environments with a safe and nurturing home on campus where they can explore their interests and build on their classroom learning. During the 2016-17 school year, 71 percent of all MHS students participated in YRE. During the summer of 2017, average weekly YRE attendance was 523, or 27 percent of the student body.
Percentage of students who participated in a significant skill-building activity scheduled during summer or holiday breaks.
Giving students a better understanding of themselves, different cultures, and the systems in which they live—helping them build the mindset needed to operate in today's global workplace.
Today’s MHS students are tomorrow’s leaders.
Our character and leadership development program, The Compass Project, reaches students both inside and outside the classroom to create a strong sense of character, leadership skills, and teamwork.
Students also grow their leadership abilities through athletics, visual and performing arts, scouting, and student government—giving them the opportunity to positively influence others and improve their community.
Children who grow up in poverty—with little or no access to health and wellness services or even basic necessities like food—have difficulty concentrating in class and achieving their goals.
Percentage of students measuring in the healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) range.
MHS students receive high quality, evidence-based care at a student-to-health professional ratio of 19:1—far greater individualized attention than public and residential schools across the country. MHS provides medical, dental, psychological, behavioral, and social work services, as well as clothing for students at no cost to their families.
Students learn to form healthy eating and exercise habits, reduce screen time, and set goals to get better rest and remain properly hydrated. They also are taught well-being techniques so they can adapt and overcome emotional and personal challenges—part of our commitment in preparing students to live long, happy, and healthy lives.
MHS staff members have the unique opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of thousands of children each day.
President Gurt’s 2020 Vision calls upon employees to build meaningful connections with students and pursue continuous professional growth that equips them to provide the best possible care for our students. Each year, employees undergo extensive professional development and mandatory training to enhance their expertise.
During the 2016-17 school year, staff answered President Gurt’s call to action by going above and beyond to make sure students received the nurturing support they need to achieve their goals and feel part of the MHS family. Staff members volunteered as mentors, attended sporting events and performances, served as chaperones, and much more.
For the 194 students who crossed the stage at Commencement to become our newest alumni, MHS will forever be known as the place that shaped their lives and served as the springboard for their postsecondary goals.
Commencement speaker Alondra Isidro ’17 reminded her fellow graduates that it is never too late to be the kind of person you want to be—encouraging them to embrace their mistakes and use failure as motivation, just as founder Milton Hershey did when starting his chocolate company.
In its second year, the Graduate Programs for Success (GPS) Division continues to provide students and alumni with a multi-tiered system of support that addresses their individual needs while fostering independence.
Career counselors, teachers, and transition specialists support students and alumni beginning in middle school and continuing through college, technical programs, the workforce, or the military. Many members of the Class of 2017 are the first generation of college goers in their families—making this proactive assistance instrumental to their success.
It was the advice and mentoring Tiffany Chang Lawson ’07 received from her MHS teachers, houseparents, and counselors that inspired her to embrace every opportunity at the school and pursue her postsecondary goals. Today, the MHS and Dickinson College graduate is creating life-changing opportunities for others as the executive director of the Pennsylvania Governor’s Advisory Committee on Asian Pacific American Affairs.
Thanks to this built-in support, MHS graduates go on to higher education at significantly higher percentages than the national average.
Over the past 10 years, 77 to 94 percent of MHS graduates attended a postsecondary institution compared to the national average of 66 to 70 percent.
The Milton Hershey community is unlike any other in the world. We are a home and a school, but also a family comprised of students, staff, parents/sponsors, and alumni from all corners of the country. Each person has their own story, but together we have a unified goal—expand Milton and Catherine Hershey’s mission and provide life-changing opportunity that lifts children out of the cycle of poverty.
Cultivate Strength of Character and Deliver a Top-Notch Education
Expand Our Mission
Ignite Staff Engagement and Exceptional Performance