Making life difference

By on January 1, 2014

“We get experiences that not a lot of other students get. The opportunities to be successful are good because of all the school has to offer you,” said Daniel Tartaglia, who returns to his Ephrata home when on vacation from Milton Hershey School in Hershey.

“What I like most is that Milton Hershey has brought me closer to music. I’m in band and choir and want to go to college for music education,” said Heather Snader, another junior at Milton Hershey whose hometown is Ephrata.

Heather Snader and Daniel Tartaglia, both from Ephrata, are in 11th grade at Milton Hershey School. Heather enrolled in grade seven and Daniel in grade four. Both said their experience “changed their lives.”

Heather Snader and Daniel Tartaglia, both from Ephrata, are in 11th grade at Milton Hershey School. Heather enrolled in grade seven and Daniel in grade four. Both said their experience “changed their lives.”

Both students mentioned how the career technical exploration pathways program helped them find other areas in which they are interested and have a talent.

The exploration program, encompassing 11 different pathways, such as journalism, business/financial management & accounting, health science, engineering and design, computer technology, construction/carpentry and culinary arts/restaurant management, is intended to allow students to focus on different areas or to continue on one pathway and complete an entry-level certification program. Most of the programs allow students to build on them following graduation if they choose.

“So far my favorite area is culinary,” said Snader. “We made seafood wraps with seaweed, seafood, spices and baked them in the oven.”

“I found out in the business/financial management & accounting career exploration pathway that I’m good with money,” said Tartaglia. “The teacher is teaching investment, such as the various ways your money can earn money in the bank.”

“I’d like to go to college at Temple,” said Tartaglia. “I’ve visited the Temple main campus with a relative. The school takes you on college visits.” Tartaglia is eager to see Temple again and learn more about the business and accounting programs.

Snader has her eye on a four-year program in music at Penn State University, and will be visiting that campus on a school trip in the future.

Life is busy at Milton Hershey, and next year both students will be busier as they live in an apartment setting contained on the Milton Hershey School campus.

“When you go to college, there’s no one telling you what to do,” Tartaglia said.

In the apartment setting their senior year, called transitional living, each student will live with others of their own gender. They will be responsible for doing their laundry, planning meals for breakfast and dinner (lunch is served at school), making grocery lists, budgeting finances and purchasing groceries.

Snader, in addition to the daily tasks of transitional living, must budget time for classes, studying, band and choir. Tartaglia plays sports and will need to negotiate how to get everything done in the transitional living setting. Both students must keep up their grades in order to participate in extra-curricular activities, not to mention completing in all the paperwork needed for college applications.

While both students expressed appreciation for the opportunities afforded them by the residential Milton Hershey School, each student said that the adjustment process was not an easy one.

Snader, a student at the school for five years, said the hardest adjustment she had to make was “trying to make new friends.”

“I was shy. My middle school house parents (Kathy and Terry Augustine) helped me a lot and basically are the reason I have stayed at the school,” said Snader.

Home life and school life are intricately connected at Milton Hershey and each one communicates regularly with the other. “House parents” have homework time, chore time, and recreational time daily as well as teach lessons in skills students will need to become independent once they graduate. These life skills are practiced in the student home and then put to the test as seniors in the transitional living arrangement. During that year, students can fine-tune or learn new skills that they find they need.

Targalia, a student at the school for eight years, arrived as a fourth grader.

“For me,” Tartaglia said, “it was kind of tough because I came at a young age. One day you are with your family and the next day you’re with people you don’t know. It was kind of tough,” he added.

“Mr. (Gary) and Mrs. (Lucinda) Hughes, house-parents at Weiser student home, helped me. They put us in groups with others to learn names, favorite things to do, and other things to do inside the student home. We also had intramurals. Soccer’s my favorite,” said Tartaglia.

A favorite school subject is physical education class with Coach Jeff Boger for Targalia and band (with Tim Stephan) and choir (with Cristal Sheaffer) for Snader.

After being at Milton Hershey for several years, each student acknowledged how difficult the decision to give them the opportunities they now enjoy must have been for their families.

“It’s not easy in the beginning” are words which echoed from each student interviewed. Also echoed was the word “appreciation” for the great gift their families gave them by allowing them to flourish socially, emotionally, physically and academically in what was Katherine (affectionately known as “Kitty”) and Milton Hershey’s dream.

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