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Milton Hershey School Begins a Breakthrough Year

By Pete Gurt ’85, MHS President

For nearly a decade, our Opening of School Assembly has featured themes that both inspire and challenge the Milton Hershey School community.

Milton Hershey School President Pete Gurt '85 speaks at Opening of School Assembly.

In 2014, we started by recommitting to our founders’ expectations in Renewing our Journey. In 2015 we focused on The Power of One—being the one person to inspire one student. In 2016, we learned the Attributes of a Spartan. One who has determination, courage, loyalty, and resilience. 2017 ignited a Spark that reminded us to make a positive impact.

In 2018, we recognized the importance of giving with gratitude, intent, vision, and enthusiasm with The GIVE. 2019 showed us what it means to Be Golden by living out the Golden Rule. In 2020, Our Future in Focus challenged us during a pandemic to keep looking forward. 2021 inspired us that despite a pandemic we can be Greater Together and in 2022, we won the day by building strong habits through Day 1 … Day WON.


Each one of these lessons, challenges, and values, have led us to our tenth Assembly and this year’s theme of Breakthrough. We are defining Breakthrough as shattering real or perceived barriers to become the very best version of ourselves. A Breakthrough must begin with a change in our beliefs and circumstances.

Breakthrough can happen when we let go. When we let go of old habits, negative attitudes, fears that hold us back, and sometimes it means letting go on people who don’t have our best interests at heart.

But a Breakthrough can also happen by holding on, working hard, and not giving up. We must hold on when challenges present themselves. When we are tired and when we feel a Breakthrough is nowhere in sight.

It takes insight and courage to know when it is time to let go and when it is time to hold on. Small steps toward success are incremental but when a Breakthrough occurs it is transformational.

As the Chinese Proverb says: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

But there is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path. Small steps in the right direction can result in small miracles to see possibilities and not obstacles. Each one of those small steps bring us closer to our Breakthrough.

At MHS, our students and staff are challenged to find their Breakthrough. Our entire mission is to help students and staff define their purpose and to break through real or perceived barriers that prevent you from becoming your greatest self.

Our campus is where dreams, hard work, and opportunity intersect to shatter excuses.

At the entrance to Spartan Commons, at Copenhaver Circle, is the Keyhole to our campus. The Keyhole sculpture symbolizes the opportunity to unlock potential because old keys don’t unlock new doors. Our campus Keyhole sculpture serves to inspire students and staff to break through to future success.

Milton Hershey School's Copenhaver Keyhole sculpture represents the idea that education is the key to the future.

This reminds us of our founder, Milton S. Hershey. After several failures his Breakthrough was achieved, and we continue to reap the benefits of his vision.

Mr. Hershey knew that his businesses, his town, and his school would only operate at their very best with one another. Because of the Mr. and Mrs. Hershey’s generosity each member of the MHS community is afforded the opportunity to Breakthrough.

So, this year, how will you earn your Breakthrough?

Learn More about 2023 Opening of School AssemblyWatch Our Breakthrough Videos

Milton Hershey School does not discriminate in admissions or other programs and services on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, ancestry, sex, religious creed or disability. Read important MHS policies on equal opportunity and diversity, equal employment opportunity, and more.