Terry Alacante will be the first member of his family to attend college and he has been taking an interesting route to get there.
Since sixth grade Alacante has attended the Milton Hershey School (MHS) in Hersey, Pennsylvania, which is a cost-free, private residential school for more than 2,000 lower-income families.
Does Hershey, Pennsylvania ring a bell? It should. It's home to Hersey's Chocolate. The school was actually founded by the chocolate company's founder, Milton Hershey, and his wife Catherine (Kitty). They were unable to have children of their own and decided to create a home and a school for orphaned boys. The school was formed in 1909. Milton actually donated his entire personal fortune in 1918 to establish a trust for the school, which funds it to this day.
The school has gone on to help hundreds of students, boys and girls, from pre-K through 12th grade like Terry, as well as his sister, who is in sixth grade.
Alacante's mother chose to enroll him because she wanted him to have the opportunity to receive a top-notch education that could lead him to college.
“My family enrolled me at MHS to better my education. Before MHS, they enrolled me in other schools. Some were worse than others. Then, I came here and it’s the ultimate experience,” said Terry Alacante. “The main lessons I’ve learned at MHS are how to plan and be disciplined. It all falls in line. There are steps you have to take. Another thing I’ve learned is patience. You need to be patient as you work for what you want.”
At the Milton Hershey School, Terry is taking specialized business, financial management and accounting classes. These classes have fostered a desire to pursue a college degree in business after graduating from high school, which would make him the first member of his family to attend college.
While the school is helping lower-income students thrive in a private residential setting, it also helps the families in a way.
"These families are enabling their children to succeed both academically and as a person. They are able to know their children are in a safe environment. Many parents are able to go back to school or get full-time jobs. This enables both parents and kids to make better lives for themselves,” said Cindy Spinner, an MHS admissions counselor.
And for students like Terry, they get to take advantage of an educational opportunity, which will lead him to college.
“It’s an achievement. I can say I was the first one to do it in my family. People after me in my family can do it, too. It’s a good feeling. I’m helping my family out, and they provide me with the moral support by telling me I can do it,” said Terry.
Milton Hershey School is hosting an upcoming event in Quincy, MA on Sunday, Nov. 18 at 1 pm at Gennaro’s Eatery (12 Blanchard Road, Quincy, MA 02169). Admissions counselors will be sharing more information about the school. More information can be found at mhskids.org.