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Then and Now: MHS Founders Week Traditions

When creating the Hershey Industrial School (now Milton Hershey School), Milton and Catherine Hershey knew they wanted to help children and families in need. They communicated their vision for the home and school in the Deed of Trust signed on Nov. 15, 1909. Founders Week has been celebrated at MHS for over 110 years.

Deed of Trust Facts in honor of Founders Week

The Junior-Senior High School (now Catherine Hall) was dedicated on Nov. 15, 1934, in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the school’s founding. One year later, the first official Founders Day was held. In 1937, Milton S. Hershey hosted a special dinner for teachers, administrators, and the Board of Managers in commemoration.

After Milton Hershey passed away on Oct. 13, 1945, an oak tree was planted in his memory. The Class of 1957 was the first senior class to participate in an annual tree planting tradition, which has continued through the present day during Founders Week.

MHS students then and now tree planting ceremony for Founders Week

Left to right: Class of 1970 and Class of 2020 at Senior Tree Planting Ceremony

Fifty years ago, the dedication of Founders Hall on Sept. 13, 1970, created a lasting tribute to the founders and established a new tradition of observing Founders Day with a community-wide event in the auditorium of Founders Hall. The Class of 1971 planted the first oak tree at Founders Hall. Each tree planted there features a bronze plaque with the class year so graduates can visit their tree when they come back to campus.

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has halted in-person events. The Founders Feast, a newer tradition where the MHS family shares a special meal together, will be held safely in student homes this year. The meal will feature Milton Hershey’s favorite foods and include a student activity inviting students to put their futures in focus by setting goals much like the founders did in 1909.

Sneak Peek of Deed of Trust Video Display


The Deed of Trust comes alive in the new Founders Hall Visitor’s Center exhibit with script from the original Deed of Trust, photographs, and moving images that show how Milton and Catherine’s foundational wishes for the school are still true today.

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.