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Milton Hershey School Celebrates the “Royal Class” of 2019 at the 85th Commencement Ceremony

This weekend, Milton Hershey School had 216 reasons to celebrate as the Class of 2019 graduated and prepared to begin the next chapter in their lives.

The Class of 2019 commemorated friendships, successes, and years of hard work in front of families, friends, teachers, and staff. Senior Marrika Phillips welcomed guests to Giant Center and reminded her peers of the knowledge they have gained at MHS.

“The legacy given to everyone on this stage is a second chance and we will continue with the awareness that knowledge is OUR power to shape minds, hearts, and the future,” said Marrika.

President Gurt ’85 gave a special Commencement presentation including a “final exam” for the Class of 2019, encouraging them to remember their unique journey at MHS.

“As you walk across the stage to receive your diploma, remember, we have walked in front of you to show you the way,” Gurt said. “We have walked beside you to support you along the way, and now we will walk behind you to follow your success and cheer you on.”

MHS Alumnus of the Year poses for a photo before Commencement begins

After being introduced by Chairman of the Board of Managers Bob Heist ’82, the 2019 Alumnus of the Year William C. B. Harding ’78 charged the audience to give back for all they have been given through Milton and Catherine Hershey’s legacy.

“As MHS slowly restored my faith in myself, showed me that someone believed in me, and provided me with skills and a purpose in life, I realized that nothing could stop me if I put my mind to it,” said Harding.

Senior Janet-Nicole Riddick closed the ceremony by inspiring her classmates to remember the unique moments they lived at MHS and applauded the families and friends in the audience for selflessly enrolling their students at MHS in hopes of a brighter future.

“Regardless of where we came from, richer or poorer, we can only agree that now we now live as the one percent,” said Riddick. “We are Milton Hershey Students, and our opportunities and achievements are nothing but the one percent.”

Commencement weekend started on Friday, June 7, with prom at Hershey Lodge. It continued on Saturday, June 8, with the annual Senior Class Chapel and Ring Ceremony and the annual Senior Class Awards Ceremony. The day included vocal and piano performances, scripture readings, student speakers, and the presentation of the class rings. Students were encouraged to put their rings on with the MHS logo facing them to remind them to look inward and reflect on their MHS experience before receiving their diploma on Sunday. Upon graduating, seniors turn their rings with the logo outward as a demonstration of how the school has prepared them, what it has meant to them, and how it has empowered them.

MHS students in the Class of 2019 proudly show off their class rings.

Graduating seniors also were honored for their accomplishments in the visual and performing arts, athletics, career and technical education, academics, and character and leadership. Thirteen students earned lifer awards to celebrate the years they spent at MHS since enrolling in pre-K, kindergarten, or first-grade.

View a list of award winners.

Congratulations to the Class of 2019 as they join the more than 10,000 graduates who came before them as change-makers!

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.