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Opening of School 2020

Welcome to the 2020-21 School Year

MHS usually starts school with a vibrant Opening of School Assembly. For student, staff, and community safety, we shifted to a different format this year. Our Opening of School festivities lasted several weeks and included themed activities for students and staff. We hope everyone had fun…and enjoyed some surprises along the way!

MHS third-grader Chukwudifu Okechukwu celebrates birthday

Focus Fun Continues as Student Home Holds Two Parties in One

MHS recently awarded the winning student homes and Transitional Living (TL) buildings from the Our Future in Focus decoration contest with an ice cream party.

Student home Weiser used the sweet celebration as a dual party for a student’s birthday.

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Opening of School Video Series

Although this is a year like no other, we still believe it can—and will—be our best year yet. The Our Future in Focus theme ignited and inspired the entire MHS community. Watch our recap videos, or view our full Opening of School 2020 video playlist.

Highlights Video - Part 1

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Highlights Video - Part 2

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Back to the Start

MHS decorating contestSince MHS kicked off its progressive Opening of School festivities on Thursday, Aug. 6, there has been no shortage of enjoyable activities to complete and inspirational messages to consume. Take a peek back to see where the celebration started.

Week 3

Saturday, Aug. 22: Fireworks Finale

On Saturday, Aug. 22, as part of the conclusion of Milton Hershey School’s Opening of School festivities, our students, staff, and the entire Hershey, Pennsylvania community got to experience a short fireworks display.

Read the Story Rewatch Facebook Live Coverage

Friday, Aug. 21: "When Future Falls Into Place" Video

On Friday, Aug. 21, MHS released its “When Future Falls Into Place” video. MHS Class of 2013 grad Amanda DuCharme’s future came into focus during college, when she aspired to and now works at MHS. She is able to give back to the community that supported her through one of her hardest times.

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Thursday, Aug. 20: Surprise Box #4 - Scavenger Hunt

MHS students with surprise box #4On Thursday, Aug. 20, MHS students received their fourth surprise box, continuing several weeks’ worth of fun, themed, unity-building activities. Included in the box was a booklet of scavenger hunt challenges to complete as a team and a prize for each student—an Our Future in Focus water bottle.

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Wednesday, Aug. 19: Letters to Their Future Selves

On Wednesday, Aug. 19, MHS students wrote letters to their future selves—setting goals, envisioning what they want to accomplish, and brainstorming ways they can positively influence others. Houseparents and TL staff collected and sealed the letters and placed them back in the third surprise box. Students will re-open the letters in June to see their achievements this school year.

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Tuesday, Aug. 18: Campus Home Decorating Contest

MHS student home decorated for OSAOn Tuesday, Aug. 18, MHS announced the winners of its home decorating contest, following the Our Future in Focus theme. Milton Hershey School student homes and Transition Living (TL) buildings got creative in decking out their outdoor spaces. The winning homes will receive a complimentary ice cream party.

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Tuesday, Aug. 18: MHS Celebrates Spirit Day

On Tuesday, Aug. 18, Milton Hershey School students and staff were encouraged to participate in Spirit Day as part of the Opening of School celebration. All across campus, we saw MHS-branded Spartan gear and teal, navy, and white clothing combinations. Continue to show your MHS pride by sharing your photos or changing your Facebook profile filter to our themed option.

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Monday, Aug. 17: MHS Welcomes First Day of Classes

Elementary Students on First Day of ClassesOn Monday, Aug. 17, MHS students and staff started the 2020-21 school year focused on a bright future ahead. The school day started with an encouragement video from MHS employees to inspire positivity. As students transitioned between classes, a future-themed playlist streamed through the loudspeakers to emphasize the year’s theme.

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Monday, Aug. 17: "Faculty and Staff Share Positive Messages" Video

On Monday, Aug. 17, MHS released its “MHS Faculty and Staff Share Positive Messages for New School Year” video. The video features employees from all departments providing uplifting messages and offering advice. Together, we will overcome the challenges that the year ahead may bring.

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Week 2

Saturday, Aug. 15: Weekend Luminaries Inspire Hope

MHS students holding luminariesOn Saturday, Aug. 15, MHS asked all student homes to light their walkways and driveways with over 2,000 luminaries. Supplies were included in Surprise Box #3, and each student was encouraged to decorate a luminary with messages of hope. This activity symbolized unity and lighting a path for better days ahead.

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Friday, Aug. 14: Students Create Murals

MHS student holding art canvasOn Friday, Aug. 14, MHS students brought creativity, imagination, and artistry to life in a special group project. Each student home and Transitional Living (TL) building decorated a canvas that was combined into art displays on campus. Students painted what they hoped for themselves and the MHS community in the future.

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Friday, Aug. 14: "CTE Teacher Sets Students Up for Success" Video

On Friday, Aug. 14, MHS released its “Construction/Carpentry Teacher Helps Set Students Up for Success” video. The video features MHS teacher Joe Fick reflecting on this year’s Opening of School theme. He talks about his career and his time at MHS—teaching and preparing students to lead their own fulfilling and productive lives.

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Thursday, Aug. 13: Surprise Box #3 - Theme Bracelets

MHS students with box 3On Thursday, Aug. 13, student homes and Transitional Living (TL) buildings received their third surprise box. They were gifted bracelets they can wear throughout the year. The bracelets will remind them to remain focused on their bright futures ahead. The box also contained a group activity.

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Monday, Aug. 10: Surprise Box #2 with S'mores

MHS student enjoy s'mores kitsOn Monday, Aug. 10, students received a second surprise box filled with themed t-shirts and a HERSHEY’s s’mores kit donated by The Hershey Company to celebrate National S’mores Day. Thanks for supporting MHS and its students in so many ways!

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Week 1

Saturday, Aug. 8: Future in Focus Dinner

mhs-students-houseparentOn Saturday, Aug. 8, student homes enjoyed a special themed dinner provided by food services to celebrate the new school year. The meal featured chicken kabobs, shrimp, roasted potatoes, asparagus, and a peanut butter tart for dessert. Each box also included talking points to help generate conversation about building a great future.

Friday, Aug. 7: "Dear Future Me" Video

On Friday, Aug. 7, MHS released its “Dear Future Me” video. The video features ED students writing letters to their future selves and talking about who they want to be when they grow up. This video highlights the “why” of the MHS story, giving children the opportunity to reach their dreams.

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Thursday, Aug. 6: Surprise Box #1 and Theme Unveiling

On Thursday, Aug. 6, MHS students got an early look at the 2020-21 theme as each student home and Transitional Living building received a special delivery. Inside their boxes, they found colorful branded items, fun activities, an Opening of School poster, and the theme unveiling video. One of those activities is an art project that will be combined into displays in Memorial Hall, Catherine Hall, and Copenhaver Center.

See Unveiling Photos on Twitter

Monday, Aug. 3: Pre-Event Welcome Postcards

On Monday, Aug. 3, Milton Hershey School students received welcome back postcards from President Gurt hinting at the 2020-21 school year theme.

Founders Hall Lights Night One

Founders Hall Lights

From Aug. 12-18, Founders Hall was illuminated with a variety of bright teal, blue, and white color combinations to represent the promise of a new school year and the 2020-21 theme, Our Future in Focus. The MHS landmark will serve as a beacon of hope and opportunity as the MHS community focuses on the bright futures of our students.

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MHS student painting during OSC

Share Your Photos

Did you follow along with MHS Opening of School festivities on social media? Use #MHSSpartanStrong all year long to share your own photos and videos!

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Downloadable Theme Assets

Download the MHS theme graphics to carry this year’s Opening of School message with you all school year. Options include:

  • Desktop wallpaper
  • Graphics for social media or email
  • A poster
  • Facebook profile filter
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Annual Theme Reveal

Get the answer to the question you’ve been wondering about all summer—what is the MHS 2020-21 school year theme?

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Middle Division Idea Wall

MHS encourages its students to be active in their school community. Last spring, middle school students brainstormed possible themes for this school year. See how they approached the challenge.


Senior Division Personal Feedback

Senior Division students also were asked to think about relevant and inspiring themes for Milton Hershey School’s Opening of School festivities. This theme is a unifying message that extends across the full school year.

MHS Students in 1930

Through the Years

The start of a new school year at MHS has been a celebration since we welcomed our first group of students back in 1910. Take a walk down memory lane with these first-day-of-school photos.

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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.