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The Hill School
The Hill School.png
Whatsoever things are true.
Pottstown, PA, USA
Type Co-ed, Private, Boarding
Religious affiliation None
Established 1851
Headmaster David R. Dougherty
Faculty 89
Enrollment 493
Average class size 12
Student:teacher ratio 7:1
Campus 300 acres (1.21 square km)
Color(s) Confederate Gray, Union Blue
Athletics 28 Interscholastic
The Hill School - Athletics
Mascot Ram
Average SAT scores Middle 50% range Verbal: 560-680
Math: 580-690

The Hill School (a.k.a. The Hill) is an American preparatory boarding school for boys and girls in grades nine through twelve. It provides a post-graduate program for students who graduated from high school.

Founded in 1851, The Hill is located in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, about 35 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

The Hill is part of an organization known as the Ten Schools Admissions Organization. This organization was founded more than forty years ago on the basis of a number of common goals and traditions. Member schools include The Hill, Choate Rosemary Hall, Deerfield Academy, The Lawrenceville School, The Taft School, The Hotchkiss School, St. Paul's School, Loomis Chaffee, Phillips Exeter Academy, and Phillips Academy Andover.

In 2007, The Hill's endowment totaled $145 million.



The Hill School was founded in 1851 by the Rev. Matthew Meigs as the “Family Boarding School for Boys and Young Men.” The School opened on May 1, 1851, enrolling 25 boys for the first year. The Family Boarding School was the first of its kind in America. According to John Chancellor’s The History of The Hill, “He [Meigs] wanted to stress that he was not founding still another academy, but a type of school quite new and rare in America. There is a tendency to think that the boys’ boarding school as we know it existed as long as there have been private schools. It has not. Most of the 12 to 15 schools generally considered the “core” group were established in the last half of the nineteenth century…Of this whole group of schools, The Hill was the first to be founded as a family boarding school." Rev. Meigs' son, John Meigs, became headmaster in 1876 at the age of 24. In the 35 years that followed, the School grew from an institution with two teachers and 20 boys to a school of 40 masters and 375 young men. From 1911 to 1914, Alfred G. Rolfe served as headmaster, succeeded by Dwight R. Meigs, from 1914 to 1922. In 1920, ownership of the School was transferred from the Meigs family to Hill alumni, marking the beginning of a new era of alumni loyalty and service. Headmaster Boyd Edwards led the School from 1922 to 1928. Edwards was followed by James I. Wendell, credited with greatly expanding the physical plant and library resources. At the time of The Hill's centennial celebration, which attracted nationwide attention, Dr. Wendell announced his retirement, closing 24 years of leadership. Edward T. Hall was appointed to fill the void. In his 16-year tenure, Hall raised academic admission qualifications, enhanced scholarships and faculty salaries, and expanded the School's physical facilities. Upon his retirement in 1968, the Trustees appointed Archibald R. Montgomery III, who served until 1973, succeeded by Charles C. Watson.

For nearly its entire history The Hill has maintained 500 students per year from which the school song "A Thousand Hands" is drawn. The Hill was an all-boys institution until 1998. As of 2005, the ratio between boys and girls at the school is 3:2. Legacy students make up roughly one-third of the student body.

Owing to its age, The Hill has a campus rich with historic architecture. The Hill's all wood-paneled Dining Hall houses a valuable collection of paintings by the famous American illustrator N.C. Wyeth, father of the notable American painter Andrew Wyeth. These paintings were a gift from former director of athletics, Michael F. Sweeney. A photo of the Dining Hall interior, taken in 1967 and picturing members of the class of 1971 in the foreground, is the cover of Tobias Wolff's novel, Old School.

School motto

“Whatsoever things are true” is The Hill’s motto, and truth is the School’s highest ideal – truth in the classroom, truth between teacher and student, and truth between the student and his or her peers. Hill curricula, policies, and procedures are predicated on truth, honesty, and trust. "Whatsoever things are true" is an excerpt from St. Paul's letter to the Philippians (Philippians 4:8). In this passage, St. Paul urges his readers to focus their actions virtuously on "whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report ...."

School traditions

  • Unlike many other boarding schools, The Hill continues to maintain its "jacket and tie" dress-code for students, requires all students to attend twice-weekly nondenominational chapel services, and participate in seated family-style meals with faculty in the dining hall.
  • Unlike many other schools where students use grade terminology such as "Freshman" or "Sophomore," The Hill uses the traditional English term "forms":
    • Third Form = 9th Grade / Freshman
    • Fourth Form = 10th Grade / Sophomore
    • Fifth Form = 11th Grade / Junior
    • Sixth Form = 12th Grade / Senior
  • Students at the school enjoy competing in J-Ball, short for "Javelin Ball." J-Ball was created in 1955 by Sidney Wood, a future Wimbledon champion. Similar to baseball, J-Ball is played with a tennis ball and racquet, but only one player on the fielding team is allowed to use a glove. J-Ball is typically played on the Quad and far fields during the second list of the Spring Term.
  • After receiving their diplomas at graduation, Sixth Formers jump into The Dell and swim out to the center fountain; this is the most attended part of the graduation ceremonies. The Dell is a small pond located near the old ice hockey rink and outside of the Center for the Arts where the ceremony takes place.
  • The Hill-Charterhouse Challenge is an academic competition dating from 2004 between Hill and its sister school in the United Kingdom, Charterhouse School. The competition is based on the success of an invention of students' creation. Past examples of the focus of the competition have included the building of catapault, construction of electric generators and the holding of a miniature America's Cup race.


The Hill competes in the Mid-Atlantic Prep League. The Hill's athletic teams are known as the Blues, and a ram serves as a mascot. The Hill's arch-rival is The Lawrenceville School of Lawrenceville, New Jersey. The rivalry is celebrated annually on the first or second weekend of November. The festivities alternate between the two schools each year, and it is the 5th oldest school rivalry, and the 3rd oldest high-school rivalry, in the nation, dating back to 1887.[1] In 2006 the Hill-Lawrenceville rivalry entered into a new era as a combined Hillville soccer team traveled to England and Scotland to compete against Charterhouse School and Eton College defeating both schools on their home pitch.

Besides Hill and Lawrenceville, other schools in the league are Hun School of Princeton in Princeton, New Jersey, Mercersburg Academy of Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, Peddie School in Hightstown, New Jersey, and Blair Academy in Blairstown, New Jersey.

Some of the schools that The Hill also competes against include St. Andrew's School in Middletown, Delaware, Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginia, The Taft School in Watertown, Connecticut, Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut, Deerfield Academy in Deerfield, Massachusetts, Governor Dummer Academy in Byfield, Mass; Westminster School in Simsbury, Connecticut, and Wyoming Seminary College Prep, in Kingston, Pa.

All students are required to participate at some level of athletics, whether it be at the varsity or intramural level. Interscholastic sports include cross country, football, field hockey, soccer, tennis, squash, water polo, swimming, basketball, ice hockey, wrestling, baseball, softball, lacrosse, track, and golf.

Notable alumni


Years not listed

  • Nelson Bunker Hunt Scion of the Hunt Oil Company family. Did not graduate. Donated the costs to renovate his namesake building on campus.
  • Wolcott Gibbs, writer for The New Yorker, class of '20 but did not graduate.
  • Alfred Glancy III. Current Director of Detroit Energy Company, director and chairman of Unico Invesents, former chairman and CEO of MCN Energy Group Inc.
  • William Thomas Quick, Writer, screenwriter, blogger. Class of 1964, but did not graduate.
  • Lane Smith attended in 1955, did not graduate. Character actor
  • Edmund Wilson Writer.
  • Tobias Wolff, writer, novelist, English and writing professor at Stanford. Class of 1964, but did not graduate.
  • Sidney Wood Creator of Hill School tradition, J-Ball, Wimbledon Men's Singles Champion 1931, Davis Cup finalist of 1934.


  • David R. Dougherty, 1993-
  • Charles C. Watson, 1973-1993
  • Archibald R. Montgomery, 1968-1973
  • Edward (Ned) T. Hall, 1952-1968
  • James Wendell, 1928-1952
  • Boyd Edwards, 1922-1928
  • Dwight R. Meigs, 1914-1922
  • Alfred G. Rolfe, 1911-1914
  • John Meigs, 1876-1911
  • Matthew Meigs, 1851-1876


  1. ^ Ross, Rosemarie. "Hill ends season with key victory", Mercury (Pennsylvania), November 13, 2005. Accessed October 31, 2007. "In the game that annually means the most to them, it was near total Blues dominance as visiting Hill routed arch rival Lawrenceville, 41-18, Saturday to take home the silver trophy bowl for the second straight year. This was their 103rd showdown in a rivalry that started in 1887."
  2. ^ JOHN BACKUS: a restless inventor, accessed December 24, 2006
  3. ^ James A. Baker, 3rd, Current Biography, March 2007. Accessed December 25, 2007. "Like his father, Jim Baker, as he prefers to be known, attended the Hill School, a college prep school in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, then enrolled at Princeton University."
  4. ^ Martin, Douglas. "Henry S. Coleman, 79, Dies; Hostage at Columbia in '68", The New York Times, February 4, 2006. Accessed September 12, 2009.
  5. ^ Severo, Richard. "William Proxmire, Maverick Democratic Senator From Wisconsin, Is Dead at 90", The New York Times, December 16, 2005. Accessed October 31, 2007. "The family was well-to-do, and he was sent to the Hill School in Pottstown, Pa., and then to Yale, where he was an English major."

External links

Coordinates: 40°14′42″N 75°37′59″W / 40.2449°N 75.6331°W / 40.2449; -75.6331


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