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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 Pottstownmarker, Pennsylvaniamarker, about 35 miles northwest of Philadelphiamarker.

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 Schoolmarker, The Taft School, The Hotchkiss School, St. Paul's Schoolmarker, Loomis Chaffeemarker, Phillips Exeter Academymarker, and Phillips Academy Andovermarker.

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, yea right"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 Wimbledonmarker 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 Kingdommarker, Charterhouse Schoolmarker. 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 Schoolmarker of Lawrenceville, New Jerseymarker. 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.In 2006 the Hill-Lawrenceville rivalry entered into a new era as a combined Hillville soccer team traveled to Englandmarker and Scotlandmarker to compete against Charterhouse Schoolmarker and Eton Collegemarker defeating both schools on their home pitch.

Besides Hill and Lawrenceville, other schools in the league are Hun School of Princetonmarker in Princeton, New Jerseymarker, Mercersburg Academymarker of Mercersburg, Pennsylvaniamarker, Peddie Schoolmarker in Hightstown, New Jerseymarker, and Blair Academymarker in Blairstown, New Jerseymarker.

Some of the schools that The Hill also competes against include St. Andrew's Schoolmarker in Middletown, Delawaremarker, Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginiamarker, The Taft School in Watertown, Connecticutmarker, Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticutmarker, Deerfield Academy in Deerfield, Massachusettsmarker, Governor Dummer Academy in Byfield, Mass; Westminster School in Simsbury, Connecticutmarker, 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 Stanfordmarker. Class of 1964, but did not graduate.
  • Sidney Wood Creator of Hill School tradition, J-Ball, Wimbledonmarker 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


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