A Community Centered around One Mission
By Milton Hershey School President Pete Gurt ’85 and John Lawn, President & CEO, Hershey Entertainment & Resorts
Exactly 113 years ago, Milton S. Hershey, the world-famous chocolatier and philanthropist, and his wife Catherine signed the Milton Hershey School Deed of Trust. This act allowed thousands of students the opportunity to succeed beyond what they ever thought possible. Every year, the MHS community comes together on Nov. 15 to celebrate Milton and Catherine Hershey’s impact and the way they chose to live their lives—with integrity, commitment to excellence, a positive attitude, and respect for others.
However, when we say MHS community, we are not just talking about MHS students, staff, and alumni. We are referring to all of us who are working to further Mr. Hershey’s legacy. We are a larger family, united in the vision of our shared founder and inspired to carry forward his biggest dream through MHS: nurturing and educating children in social and financial need to lead fulfilling and productive lives.
These countless individuals, businesses, university partners, and friends help MHS students and alumni be their greatest selves by providing resources, opening doors, and sharing unique opportunities. Through their support, our shared mission extends from Hershey, Pennsylvania, across the globe.
As such, Milton Hershey School’s Founders Day truly is a celebration for all of us.
President Pete Gurt ’85, President of Milton Hershey School
For me, this observance is a time to honor the school’s founders and reflect on how far we have come in 113 years. Over the past century, our commitment to the students we serve has been steadfast. We have developed new ways of working amid hard times, expanded student enrollment potential, and continued to develop new partnerships within our local, state, and regional communities to offer more opportunities to students in our care.
None of this, however, can be accomplished alone. The true magic of MHS is only at its best when we center ourselves and our community around one mission: to create a positive impact in Hershey, PA and beyond.
When most people think of our town, they envision the streetlamps shaped like Hershey’s Kisses, Hersheypark roller coasters that adorn the skyline, and the chocolate factory. What many people do not realize is the town’s amazing history centered around one couple’s vision for a thriving community.
Today, that model town strives to be exactly what the founders intended. MHS continues to partner with many local organizations—including Hershey Entertainment & Resorts (HE&R), which owns and operates Hersheypark, The Hotel Hershey, Hershey Country Club, Hershey Lodge, and more.
Founded in 1927 by our mutual founder, Milton S. Hershey, the core purpose of HE&R is not just to bring smiles to families of all ages but to provide value to MHS in its mission. Today, this is happening in many ways, including: providing students with career-focused education and employment opportunities, offering students intentional life and social skills development and mentoring, and supporting students’ growth of project-based problem-solving skills. On the business end of the relationship, our two companies are collaborating on professional development opportunities for our leaders and managers and activating meaningful marketing strategies across HE&R’s properties to support MHS student recruitment and awareness about the school.
This list only scratches the surface. MHS students and staff benefit from the diverse and far-reaching support of HE&R. This Founders Day, I am grateful for all that this partnership is doing to impact lives and carry the Hersheys’ mission forward.
John Lawn, President & CEO, Hershey Entertainment & Resorts
For me, coming to work every day has never been more meaningful. I—and HE&R team members—have the privilege of investing in MHS students through mentorship and career development initiatives, including elementary and middle school career exposure experiences and Spartan Summer Internship, apprenticeship, and co-op opportunities for high school students.
Recently, we expanded our partnership to further share the mission of MHS with even more people. Hershey, PA is a tourist destination, and we are proud to welcome millions of guests to our properties annually. We want them to understand that their visit to Hersheypark, for example, is not just about making family memories—it is a way to make a difference. A portion of every Hersheypark admission, retail item purchased, or family meal enjoyed at any of our dining outlets benefits MHS.
More importantly, we want our guests to recognize the tremendous opportunities for students at MHS. As the school continues to grow, MHS is looking to recruit eligible students interested in a top-tier education with one-of-a-kind opportunities. It is our privilege to help spread that message. On this Founders Day, we are proud to collaborate with MHS in unveiling new signage throughout Hersheypark that shares this message. In the new year, we plan to expand these efforts in new and different ways across our other entertainment venues, Resorts, and restaurants.
This important initiative showcases the spirit of community that exists in this sweet town named after a humble, visionary man and his chocolate bar. I am grateful to honor Mr. and Mrs. Hershey and commemorate MHS Founders Day through our extensive partnership with MHS for such deserving children.
Make a Difference
We hope you will join us by referring a student or houseparent couple to join us in our mission and be part of this amazing gift left by the Hersheys.
Milton Hershey School is one of the world’s best private schools, where qualifying students in pre-K through 12th grade live on campus and receive an exceptional educational experience—with all costs covered. For more information, visit mhskids.org.