As an alumnus, employee, and president of Milton Hershey School, I have long known that our school is unlike any other place in the world.
We are more than a school. We are a home—the starting line to a brighter future and the launching pad for the achievement of thousands of young people’s dreams. What truly sets us apart from other schools, is our unwavering commitment to supporting our students, all who come from backgrounds of financial hardship, in every aspect of their lives.
We are able to do this through the whole child approach to learning that we have developed during the 107 years our school has been working to improve the lives of children in need.
And while our students face challenges that stem from poverty, our school does not allow those factors to control their futures. In this year’s Brown and Gold report, you will learn more about our holistic approach and how it effectively addresses our students’ needs—from the most basic to the most complex—so they can go on to lead happy, healthy, and productive lives.
You also will see how we have been nationally recognized for both our social and emotional learning curriculum and our Career and Technical Education program. All of this is achievable because of the incredible work and dedication of our highly trained teachers, staff, and houseparents. Our employees live and further our school’s mission each and every day, and our students’ success is a direct reflection of their commitment.
As one of the Best Places to Work in PA for the last two years in a row, I am proud to lead our home and school as we fulfill the goals of our 2020 Vision and grow to serve 2,300 students. By providing a top-notch education and nurturing environment to even more children, we are honoring the vision laid out by our founders Milton and Catherine Hershey—to serve as many children as possible and help them create an exceptional life.
Peter G. Gurt ’85
More than 16 million children in the United States, half a million in Pennsylvania, live below the federal poverty level.
Our school and staff believe that a family’s income should not determine a child’s outcome. Milton Hershey School helps children realize their full potential so they can lead fulfilling and productive lives.
In March of 2016, we released our white paper, “How Schools Can Help Break the Cycle of Poverty: A Whole Child Approach,” to share our model for educating the whole child. It’s based on our more than 107 years of experience serving children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
During the 2015-16 school year, MHS reached the highest enrollment in school history with 2,024 students. Our student retention rate of 93.2% was the highest in almost 50 years.
We have created several programs to help students transition to life on campus and minimize the homesickness that is common at residential schools.
New Spartan Academy
Helps students successfully transition to MHS.
Co-Pilot Mentoring program
Supports first-year elementary students with staff mentoring.
Spartan Sponsor Academy
Equips families with tools to support their child at MHS and beyond.
All of our students—not just a percentage—come from lower income households. The average family income for students enrolled in 2015-16 was $18,568, 24% below the Federal Poverty Guideline.
Milton Hershey School goes beyond academic and career development. We address the physical, emotional, and behavioral issues that stem from poverty. MHS offers high quality education, career and technical training, and additional resources to help students thrive.
Underprivileged children have greater difficulty managing their emotions, showing empathy, and creating long-term goals due to the difficulties poverty creates in their lives.
To help students overcome these challenges, MHS established The Compass Project , a character and leadership development program with a focus on social and emotional learning skills.
With these skills, students can better manage their emotions, achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy, maintain positive relationships, and make smart decisions. The Compass Project promotes self discovery, personal responsibility, and learning inside and outside the classroom.
Percentage of students consistently following our code of conduct
The challenges of poverty adversely affect children in the classroom and beyond.
Students cannot learn and grow if they are hungry, tired, in pain, or suffering from anger and trust issues. However, children from disadvantaged backgrounds often have little access to reliable health care and emotional, behavioral, and mental health support.
With our holistic approach, MHS goes beyond traditional education to address students’ physical and mental health needs so they can overcome barriers and lead happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives.
Proper nutrition and sleeping habits, health education, and physical activity are part of our commitment to healthy lifestyles for our students.
When students are physically and mentally healthy, they are better able to achieve their goals and enter adulthood with a solid health and wellness foundation.
Percentage of students measuring in the healthy body mass index (BMI) range
With an emphasis on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) curriculum and project-based learning , students are empowered to harness their curiosity and apply their knowledge to solve problems, take on new challenges, and achieve postsecondary success.
Multicultural and Global Education Program
By traveling outside the United States, MHS students build strong character and increase global awareness.
The Year-Round Experiences program provides students with a safe and nurturing home on campus 365 days a year.
Students scoring proficient or above on the PSSA (grades 3-8) and Keystone (high school) exams. All information based on 2015-16 data, unless otherwise noted.
1 ED – Economically Disadvantaged (Based on 2014-15 data; 2015-16 comparison data not currently available)
2 Source: Spring 2016 Pennsylvania Keystone Exams State Content Area Summary Report
3 ED – Economically Disadvantaged
In addition to a rigorous academic program, MHS prepares every student for college or career upon graduation.
Students are introduced to the 11 pathways of our award-winning Career and Technical Education (CTE) program beginning in elementary school.
In 2015-16, approximately 80 high school students gained real-world experience during internships in their chosen careers.
With 223 students, the Class of 2016 was the largest to graduate from Milton Hershey School. Today, these young men and women are using the top-notch education they received to pursue their long-term goals.
During our 2016 ceremony, the 10,000th MHS graduate crossed the stage to receive a diploma. For a school that began with four students, this is a monumental milestone. Milton Hershey School and its committed staff have changed the lives of more than 10,000 young people for the better.
MHS graduates are making a positive impact on the communities where they live, creating ripple effects for generations to come, and upholding the legacy Milton Hershey and his wife, Catherine, began more than 107 years ago.
MHS is positioning its students to be leaders of their generation. Our Graduate Programs for Success (GPS) division addresses the individual needs of young alumni while encouraging their independence.
The GPS program supports graduates entering college, technical programs, the workforce or the military, as well as current students entering middle and high school.
Following graduation, new graduates are paired with MHS transition specialists and counselors who serve as their postgraduation support system. This way they can overcome difficulties without feeling alone.
Video Graduate Programs for Success
Thousands of MHS alumni are making their own footprints on the world as productive contributors to society. Our graduates serve an important role inside the MHS family as role models for generations to come.
MHS graduates go on to higher education at significantly higher percentages than the national average.
In 2016 81% of MHS Graduates Pursued Postsecondary Education
Far greater than the national average for economically disadvanted students.
The 2015-16 school year marked the beginning of our five-year strategic plan known as the 2020 Vision . President Gurt introduced the 2020 Vision to recommit our school to the mission that Milton and Catherine Hershey generously created to improve the lives of thousands of children.
The framework is in place to nurture and support hundreds of additional children. We’re building 32 new student homes on our Legacy Campus. The expansion is part of a very specific goal of the 2020 Vision—to grow enrollment to 2,300 students to provide a life full of possibilities to more students.
There is nothing more rewarding than supporting the thousands of boys and girls that make Milton Hershey School what it is—a place of hope, renewal, and dreams ready to be reached.
“ They are the future itself, growing up before our eyes. ”