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Milton Hershey School Celebrates Graduates at 2024 Commencement Ceremony

On Sunday, June 9, Milton Hershey School graduated 193 seniors during an emotion-filled 2024 Commencement Ceremony at GIANT Center. Parents/sponsors, students, and staff cheered on the graduates as they achieved their educational Breakthrough.

The 90th Commencement Ceremony included student speeches, special video presentations, and personal recognition of each graduating senior.

Susan Kargbo, a member of the Class of 2024 and one of two student speakers, reflected on her mother’s journey from Congo to America. Kargbo praised her mother’s resilience in immigrating to a new country and her willingness to send her daughter to a residential school so she could earn an exceptional education.

“Although all our stories are different, we all took off from our own places, migrating to Milton Hershey School, thanks to our benefactors Milton and Catherine Hershey, to embrace the possibilities of something new,” Kargbo said.

2024 Alumnus of the Year Douglas I. Oliver ’93 reminded the graduates to not forget the lessons Mr. Hershey instilled during the school’s earliest years—be honest, follow the Ten Commandments, train yourself for useful work, and move forward from failure.

“This four-part directive makes plain what his expectations are for us. We don’t have to wonder,” Oliver said. “Be honest, follow God, work hard, and be fearless. It is just that simple.”

MHS President Pete Gurt ’85 praised the graduates for overcoming obstacles to earn their diplomas.

Gurt also reflected on the 2023-24 school year theme, Breakthrough, and told the graduates that if they carry forward the lessons they learned at MHS, they will achieve many more Breakthroughs.

“All Breakthroughs are achieved by looking in first and having the honest conversation with yourself to build the commitment and confidence necessary for success,” Gurt said. “Never hesitate to reach out to your support network to cheer you on.”

To loud cheers, Gurt announced Ember Simmons is the Class of 2024 Valedictorian. Ashley Spence earned the dual honor of Salutatorian and Most Nearly Ideal Senior. The Most Nearly Ideal Senior Award is annually presented to a graduate who highlights the pursuit of excellence in all endeavors while upholding the MHS Sacred Values and serving as a role model for the entire school community.

After the Class of 2024 received their diplomas, while their support systems cheered loudly, graduate Garrett Harden concluded the 2024 Commencement Ceremony with his heartfelt student speech.

Harden reflected on the deaths of his parents and the subsequent struggles he faced. Harden said his life changed the day he received his acceptance letter from MHS.

“I didn’t know it at the time, but that letter was my Breakthrough,” he said. “A Breakthrough from the path I was heading down and a Breakthrough that caused me to redirect from a life riddled with uncertainty, sadness, excuses, and self-pity.”

By the Numbers

The Class of 2024 has demonstrated the school’s four MHS Sacred Values of commitment to mission, mutual respect, positive spirit, and integrity as they navigated their high school career. As a class, these 193 seniors have volunteered more than 5,020 hours toward community service projects. One-hundred and fifty students are graduating with college credits.

This graduating class was involved on campus in several ways. Fifty-four seniors were National Honors Society members. Fifty-five participated in the National Technical Honor Society, 20 participated in the National Art Honor Society, and 12 were members of the National Math Honor Society. To top that, more than 156 members of the Class of 2024 completed internships while at MHS. Nearly 89 seniors also earned a Varsity H Award for their participation in co-curricular activities. Graduates received more than $100,000 in awards for their accomplishments.

After graduation, the Class of 2024 plans to find success in many ways:

  • 64% Four-Year College
  • 18% Two-Year College and Technical program
  • 8% Diploma and Certificate Program
  • 8% Workforce
  • 2% Military
Read More about the MHS Academic Experience

Watch the 2024 Commencement Ceremony

Video Poster

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.