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My Day 1: A Student at Milton Hershey School

By Avery Hullihen, MHS Senior

My Day 1 at Milton Hershey School was August 1, 2009—13 years ago. I don’t remember exactly what transpired on that day—but I remember the feeling of nervousness and excitement as I prepared to begin a new journey.

Milton Hershey School senior celebrates her Day 1.

For me, attending MHS was a way I could follow in the footsteps of my older sister. What I didn’t know, however, was that I was going to gain so much more than my older sister. When I arrived at my student home, the girls invited me to play dress up with them. In that moment, my houseparent started to capture the moment as it unfolded and I’m so glad she did. It was the first of many moments that I realized that I was exactly where I was meant to be.

Like most kids, I couldn’t wait to pick out my first day of school outfit—because the right attire is important. I remember going to the Clothing Center and being mesmerized by all the clothes on the sky-high shelves. I tried everything on—shirts, pants, coats, shoes, and so much more—because it was all mine now. I was excited and also amazed at everything I had been given.

Milton Hershey School senior celebrates her Day 1.

After I had gotten over my nervousness and had picked out the perfect Day 1 outfit, I was ready to tackle the road ahead. What I didn’t know then at 4-years-old that I know now is that I would make so many life-long friends along the way. These connections, not just with classmates, but houseparents, teachers, and staff, too, have helped me on my hardest days. I carry these first moments of my Day 1 with me—some of them make me smile, some of them make me laugh, and others make me sad, but all of them make me proud.

Since my Day 1, I have grown so much, gained so many skills—such as compassion, inclusivity, having kindness, and always caring for others and learned so many lessons about always being true to myself and others. As I start the last chapter of my journey at MHS, I often reflect on those moments—and on all that I’ve overcome over the past 13 years.

Milton Hershey School senior celebrates her Day 1.

I believe that my Day 1 has prepared me for this year as a senior. It has molded me into the person I am today. It has taught me to care for myself and be loving towards others. My Day 1 and the days that followed were not easy—there were hardships along the way—but it showed me what it means to be an MHS student and has prepared me for a brighter future.

Because of my Day 1, I now know that I was meant to be at MHS—to learn here and ultimately, to grow here.

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