The Hill School

The Hill School (commonly known as The Hill) is a coeducational preparatory boarding school located on a 200-acre (81 ha) campus.[4] in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, about 35 mi (56 km) northwest of Philadelphia. The Hill is part of the Ten Schools Admissions Organization (TSAO).

The Hill School
The Hill School
The Hill School
United States
TypeIndependent, College-prep, Day & Boarding
MottoWhatsoever things are true.
Religious affiliation(s)Nonsectarian Christian
HeadmasterZachary G. Lehman
Grades9-12 (Post-graduate year offered)
GenderCoeducational as of class of 1999
Enrollment522;[1] 75% boarding, all students must board for one year
Average class size14
Student to teacher ratio7:1
Campus200+ acres
Color(s)Gray & Blue
Athletics29 Interscholastic
Athletics conferenceMAPL
RivalThe Lawrenceville School
Endowment$148 million (as of July 2016)[1]
AffiliationsMiddle States Association of Colleges and Schools[2]
The Ten Schools Admissions Organization[3]
WebsiteOfficial website

The school is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Elementary and Secondary Schools.[2]


The Hill School was founded in 1851 by the Rev. Matthew Meigs as the Family Boarding School for Boys and Young Men. However, it has been known as the Hill School since at least 1874.[5]

The school opened on May 1, 1851, enrolling 25 boys for the first year. According to Paul Chancellor's The History of The Hill School: 1851-1976, “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.... The Hill was the first to be founded as a "family boarding school" (a school where the students lived on campus), as opposed to boarding with families in the town.[6]

In 1998, the school became coeducational, enrolling 88 girls in its first year.[7]

School life

Each grade at The Hill is known as a form, which is consistent with the English schooling term. Ninth grade is called third form, tenth grade is called fourth form, and so forth. The school's academic year is divided into trimesters.

The Hill maintains a formal academic dress code that requires boys to wear a coat and tie and conservative trousers and girls to wear a blazer and appropriate collared dress shirt with trousers or skirt, or a conservative dress during the school day and for special events and activities. Casual academic dress and casual dress codes apply at other times.

Two required nondenominational chapel services are held during the school week. Voluntary worship services are offered each weekend during the school year.


In the early 20th century, The Hill was a feeder school for Princeton University;[8] a prominent "The Hill School Club" operated at Princeton for the benefit of alumni.[9] The prevalence of Hill alumni, as well as those of Lawrenceville, Hotchkiss, Exeter and Phillips Academy at Princeton led F. Scott Fitzgerald to lament that it was those of 'lesser' preparatory schools which were more prepared for the fray.[10] The admissions process was relaxed for Hill School students, with cases including George Garrett, Princeton 1952, who was admitted when he confessed that he liked the striped football uniforms.[11] At one point, Lawrenceville and Hill sent more students to Princeton than all public schools combined[12] Today, Hill alumni attend a wide variety of colleges.[13]

The Hill School offers classes in each of its nine academic departments and offers 28 Advanced Placement courses.[14]

Foreign languages

The Hill School offers classes in Chinese, French, Spanish, Arabic, Latin, and Ancient Greek.

Partner schools

The Hill School has had a relationship with Charterhouse School in the United Kingdom since 1994 that includes instructional trips, along with exchanges of extracurricular programs and teachers.[15] It is linked with the Maru a Pula School in Botswana.[16] As well, the Hill hosts a Thai King's Scholar every year.[17] The Hill School is a participating school in the Naval Academy Foundation Prep Program.[18]


In the early days of the school, boys played shinney, town ball, football and cricket. Matthew Meigs was not an athlete, yet allowed sporting pursuits, unlike his contemporaries such as Samuel Taylor of Phillips Academy. During John Meigs' tenure as headmaster, organized and interscholastic sports began at The Hill. Tennis became the dominant sport during this period, unlike baseball at other schools.[19]

The Hill School is a member of the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL), which the School joined in 1998.[20] The Hill School was a charter member of the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association (PAISAA), which became an officially sanctioned organization in 2011.[21] In 2014, The Hill School received associate membership in the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC).

The Hill School's rivalry with Lawrenceville dates back to 1887, and is the fifth-oldest high school rivalry in the United States.[22] Originally an annual football game, the schools now compete against each other in all of the fall sports on either the first or second weekend in November.

Peddie School also maintains a "Hill Day" during which several teams from Hill and Peddie compete.[23]

Participation in athletics is considered a key part of a Hill education. All third and fourth form students are required to participate in at least two seasons of interscholastic sports, and all fifth and sixth formers must play at least one interscholastic season. Students may fulfill a season requirement by serving as a student athletic trainer or team manager.


The Hill School has been described as different in style and spirit from its counterparts in New England, and has been described as strict and demanding.[24][25] It has also been described as conservative.[26]

Alumnus Oliver Stone described his experience at The Hill School: "I hated the Hill School at the time. It was monastic. Horrible food, no girls. It was truly one of those Charles Dickens’ types of experiences.. And I really hated it. Years later I came to appreciate it. I think the inquiry and above all the discipline, of studying and concentrating and sitting down and doing it."[27] The Hill has been criticized, alongside other East Coast Protestant schools, for promoting "snobbish", undemocratic, and "un-American values".[28][29]

E. Digby Baltzell's book The Protestant Establishment identified the Hill School as one of the "select sixteen" best boarding schools in the United States.[30] In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, two of the 21 richest Nouveau riche families sent their sons to The Hill.[31]


The school was used as a filming location in the 2009 movie The Mighty Macs.[32]

Notable alumni


Headmasters of The Hill School since its founding in 1851:[33]

Matthew Meigs1851–1876Union College, Union Theological SeminaryPresbyterian minister and former President of Delaware College.[34]
John Meigs1876–1911Hill, Lafayette CollegeTook over as headmaster at age 24.[35]
Alfred G. Rolfe1911–1914
Dwight R. Meigs1914–1922Son of John Meigs, who created the current dining room, described by the school as "a pivotal gathering space on The Hill School’s campus".[36]
Dr. Boyd Edwards1922–1928[37]
James Wendell1928–1952WesleyanOlympic silver medalist in 110 m hurdles[38]
Edward (Ned) T. Hall1952–1968Also served as ice hockey coach[39]
Archibald R. Montgomery[40]1968–1973Westminster, PennLeft to become headmaster of St. Stephen's Episcopal School. Former United States Marine.
Charles C. Watson1973–1993Former U.S Navy officer[41]
David R. Dougherty1993–2012Episcopal High School, Washington and Lee UniversityOversaw shift to co-ed school[42]
Zachary G. Lehman2012–Phillips Exeter Academy, Dartmouth College, Harvard Law School[43]


  1. "FAQs about The Hill School". 2012-07-01. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  2. Hill School (The), Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Elementary and Secondary Schools. Accessed January 7, 2018.
  3. "The Hill School". Ten Schools Admission Organization. Retrieved 15 March 2018.
  4. "The Hill School Campus". Retrieved 2017-06-22.
  5. "Hill School History and Trivia". Retrieved July 26, 2017.
  6. Chancellor, Paul (1976). The History of the Hill School:1851-1976.
  7. TheHillSchool1851 (2016-05-10), The Hill School's Historic Move to Coeducation in 1998 (2016), retrieved 2017-06-22
  8. Princeton Alumni Weekly. 12. Princeton Publishing Company. 1911. PRNC:32101077278289.
  9. Princeton Alumni Weekly. 11. Princeton Publishing Company. 1910. PRNC:32101081974675.
  10. "The Complete Works of F. Scott Fitzgerald: Novels, Short Stories, Poetry ... - F. Scott Fitzgerald - Google Books". Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  11. "Princeton Alumni Weekly - Google Books". Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  12. "Lessons from Privilege: The American Prep School Tradition - Arthur G. Powell - Google Books". Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  13. "The Hill School College Matriculation". 2017-06-16. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  14. "Advancement Placement Courses". The Hill School. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  15. "The Hill School, Pottstown, USA", Charterhouse School. Accessed March 13, 2017. "The relationship between Charterhouse and The Hill School, Pottstown, USA started in 1994 and has developed into a strong working partnership that has seen regular science trips (every year for over 10 years), a theatre trip, choir visits, football matches and a teaching exchange."
  16. "Student Exchanges | Maru-a-Pula School". Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  17. "Profile for Colleges" (PDF).
  18. "About Us - ASP Programs". 2001-11-09. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  19. "Muscle and Manliness: The Rise of Sport in American Boarding Schools - Axel Bundgaard - Google Books". Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  20. "Mid-Atlantic Prep League". Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  21. "Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association". Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  22. Seeley, Don. Hill School vs. Lawrenceville more than a rivalry. Pottstown Mercury (Pennsylvania). November 12, 2010. "The fifth-oldest rivalry in all of America is enough to kindle the Rams and the entire Hill School campus."
  23. "Recordings of Hill Day wins for football and field hockey now available | Peddie School". 2014-10-13. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  24. Morrow, Brendan (2016-05-25). "Eric Trump, Donald's Son: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know". Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  25. "Edmund Wilson's America - George H. Douglas - Google Books". 2015-01-13. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  26. "Kingdom: The Story of the Hunt Family of Texas - Jerome Tuccille - Google Books". Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  27. Strauss, Valerie (2010-09-24). "The Answer Sheet - The education of Oliver Stone". Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  28. "The High Status Track: Studies of Elite Schools and Stratification - Paul W. Kingston - Google Books". 1990-03-27. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  29. "Who Was Hobie Weekes?". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  30. (a1) State University of New York (2017-02-24). "Education of an Elite | History of Education Quarterly | Cambridge Core". doi:10.2307/369088. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  31. Levine, Steven B. (1980). "The Rise of American Boarding Schools and the Development of a National Upper Class". Social Problems: 63–94. doi:10.2307/800381. JSTOR 800381.
  32. Fleener, Sarah. "Cameras roll on The Hill for film about unlikely champs", The Mercury (Pennsylvania), June 19, 2007. Accessed March 13, 2017. "The feature film Our Lady of Victory came on location to the Hill School's campus to film a number of scenes in the Gillison Gymnasium, hallways and locker rooms. The independent film, described by the film's writer and director Tim Chambers as 'a true Cinderella story,' captures the 1972 Immaculata College girls basketball team's unlikely rise to the national championships."
  33. Early Hill School History (1851-2012), The Hill School. Accessed January 5, 2018.
  34. A Handbook of the Best Private Schools of the United States and Canada, p. 146. Accessed January 7, 2018. "Established by the Rev. Matthew Meigs in 1851 prospered under its founder but owes its great success to the executive capacity of his son Dr. John Meigs, who reorganized the school in 1876 and to whose genius it remains a lasting monument."
  35. Staff. "Prof. John Meigs Dead.; Principal of the Hill School Was a Prominent Educator.", The New York Times, November 8, 1911. Accessed January 5, 2018.
  36. Seated Meals in the Dining Room, The Hill School. Accessed January 7, 2018. "Constructed in 1914, the present Dining Room was the first distinguished accomplishment of The Hill's third headmaster, Dwight Meigs, grandson of our founder, the Reverend Matthew Meigs."
  37. Staff. "Hill School Gets New Headmaster.", The New York Times, May 21, 1922. Accessed January 5, 2018. "Elaborate ceremonies this afternoon marked the induction into his new position of the Rev. Dr. Boyd Edwards, formerly of Orange, N.J., as headmaster of the Hill School."
  38. Staff. "Dr. James Wendell, Headed Hill School", The New York Times, November 23, 1958. Accessed January 5, 2018.
  39. Strauss, Michael. "Prep School Sports; Hill Headmaster Builds Interest in Hockey Despite Forecast of Warmer Winters", The New York Times, January 5, 1953. Accessed January 7, 2018. "Ned Hall, the new headmaster at The Hill School, came upon a disconcerting item over the holidays. While on a junket through New England and New York, Hall read a report in which a Yale scientist said winters in this hemisphere would be warmer and drier for approximately two centuries."
  40. "Archibald R. Montgomery Iii, Educator".
  41. Staff. "Watson Is Appointed As Hill's Headmaster", The New York Times, June 10, 1973. Accessed January 5, 2018. "Charles Caldwell Watson has been appointed to succeed Archibald R. Montgomery 3d as headmaster of the Hill School, the boy's preparatory school in Pottstown, Pa."
  42. Brandt, Evan. "Hill School headmaster reveals plans to retire", The Mercury (Pennsylvania), May 1, 2011. Accessed January 6, 2018. "David R. Dougherty, the headmaster who oversaw the historic conversion of The Hill School from a boys' college preparatory school to a co-ed facility, has announced he will retire next year, ending a 19-year career at the school."
  43. Brandt, Evan. "Maine educator chosen to lead The Hill School", The Mercury (Pennsylvania), November 14, 2011. Accessed January 6, 2018. "An assistant headmaster at a Maine private school has been selected as the new Hill School headmaster it was announced Monday.Zachary Gimbel Lehman, 38, who has served for six years as the assistant head of school for advancement at Gould Academy in Bethel, Maine, will take over for retiring Headmaster David R. Dougherty, who, with his wife Kay, will retire on June 30, 2012 after 19 years of service to the school."
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