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A Profile of the Milton Hershey School

A Sweet Legacy of the Hershey Chocolate Fortune


A Profile of the Milton Hershey School

A man frosting a cupcake

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Enrollment: 1,838 boys and girls from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade

Composition of the student body: 29% African-American, 1% Asian, 12% Hispanic, 44% white, 13% Other.

Residence of students: 30% from Lebanon, Dauphin, and Lancaster Counties in Pennsylvania; 48% from other counties in the state; 21% from 32 other states, including Washington, D.C.

Tuition: Free

School type: Philanthropic boarding school

Website: Milton Hershey School

What the School is Like

The Milton Hershey School is one of the nation's few free private boarding schools. Founded in 1909 as the Hershey Industrial School by chocolate maker Milton Hershey and his wife Catherine as a home for ten orphaned boys, it has grown to provide education, housing, psychological care, and even clothing for 1,800 boys and girls who have financial and social needs. Hershey donated most of his wealth to the school, and he created a trust that now has now grown to $7 billion. Catherine and Milton Hershey did not have children of their own, and they decided to dedicate themselves to helping children of need, thereby creating an incredible legacy.

The school accepts students of all ethnic, racial, and religious backgrounds. The students come from families with an average income of approximately $15,000. In addition, the school looks to accept children with social needs because their families may not be able to care for them. Students often have caretakers at home with physical, psychological, or other problems that affect their ability to care for their child, and the students' caregivers also have limited resources. The students the school accepts are as young as 4 and as old as 15. They can't have emotional, behavioral, or other issues that interfere with their ability to do the work of the school, and they must have been born in the United States. Students come from all over the country, but the admissions process favors students from the local area and from the state of Pennsylvania.

The program at the school involves instruction in both academic and life skills; for example, students take classes in independent living. The program also emphasizes building the students' characters, and the program attends to the students' psychological, medical, and dental health.

From the beginning of the school, it has stressed vocational programs that can lead to careers , in addition to a strong college-prep course taught by highly skilled faculty. For example, the Environmental and Agricultural Program allows students to use the amazing resources of the campus, including an animal center, an environmental center with a fish nursery and wetlands, and a horticultural center, to learn about nature and to acquire career skills. Students in the high school also participate in cooperative and internship programs that allow them to gain work experience in career areas that interest them. Students can work part-time during the school year in Hershey Park and the surrounding area, and they take part in co-ops during their summers. Students can earn credits in high school to apply to college programs.

The office of transition services helps older students enter and stay at college or enter the workforce, and the program guides students for five years following graduation. As part of this program, seniors live in semi-independent transitional housing, and they have to shop for themselves on a budget, clean their rooms, and perform chores.

In their residential houses, students are cared for by houseparents, married couples and supervisors. The children's parents can communicate with the houseparents regularly, and the students can return home for visits through the year. Their parents can also attend events at the school.

Famous alumni of the school include for NFL tight-end Joe Senser (class of '74) and Mary Trinh Pentel, M.D., a well-known dermatologist in Florida (class of '86). The school has made a life-changing difference for thousands of children, and it is one of the sweetest legacies of Milton Hershey's fortune.

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