Erie School Counselor Helps Three Siblings Discover Life-Changing Opportunities at MHS
Riley, Dori and Andrew Hoppe grew up in Crawford County, but in 2017, their family made the life-changing decision to enroll the three siblings into Milton Hershey School (MHS). Dori, a fifth-grader, and Andrew, who is in fourth grade, enrolled at the school first. Shortly after, their older sister Riley approached Craig Heberle, her school counselor at Conneaut Lake Middle School, to begin the process of applying to MHS.
Craig, who was familiar with MHS after attending several informational events with the school’s admissions counselors, supported the Hoppes’ decision.
“One of our faculty members is a graduate of MHS, so I quickly put Riley in contact with her and collaborated on our input to help provide the best recommendation possible for Riley,” Craig said. “I hold Milton Hershey School in high esteem, and I let families know that the opportunities available at the school are incredible.”
After talking with her parents and her counselor, and hearing about her teacher’s experience at MHS, Riley was determined to build a brighter future for herself.
“I wanted to go somewhere where I could get a better education. I wanted to take a step forward and see where I could go,” Riley said. “Everyone in that school [Conneaut Lake Middle School] knew I wanted to come to MHS and helped me with my application process. They were a major support, even when I got scared about making [this decision].”
Riley enrolled at MHS as a high school freshman, joining her siblings and getting the chance to participate in a wide range of extra-curricular activities. At the elementary level, Andrew joined Boy Scouts and plays elementary school dodgeball, and at middle school, Dori enjoys reading and playing outside.
For Riley, the school’s academic opportunities sparked her interest, specifically within the field of law, public safety, and security. Through the MHS Career and Technical Education program, she takes specialized classes and gains hands-on experience with the law and criminal justice to help fulfill her goal of eventually becoming a criminologist.
“Our teacher retired from the PA State Police, so he brings his input and experiences into class. He brings together the textbook with what he experienced,” she said. “We do mock trials and crime scene investigations … yes, it’s hard, but who doesn’t like a challenge? I grasp it.”
As the Hoppe siblings challenge themselves to try new things and create future goals, they’re also gaining an even greater skill—the ability to advocate for themselves and form meaningful connections with their peers.
“I used to be really quiet and only had a few friends,” Riley shared. “At MHS, the school teaches you to speak up for yourself. I’ve learned how to communicate and advocate for myself. Now I have an awesome relationship with my houseparents and the girls in my student home.”
With the support of the Hoppes’ parents—including their mother, Melissa, who has referred two families to MHS in the past year—their children now have the opportunity to dream big and achieve success. While every parent and child defines success differently, Craig continues to support Erie families as a school counselor and encourages them throughout their journeys.
“Helping a student and their family find success through education is the ultimate goal of being a school counselor,” he said. “While success can mean different things to different people, being a part of the encouragement and inspiration for each student is very rewarding.”