Class of 2023 Commencement

Saturday, June 10 at 11:00 a.m.

Seniors will receive their flowers and boutonnieres before sitting for their class picture, so prompt arrival by 10:00 is imperative. A livestream of the ceremony will be made available via our Facebook and YouTube Pages. As it is an outdoor, tented event, there is potential that unsuitable weather (thunder) could postpone the ceremony by several minutes to several hours, as necessary. We understand the impact this can have on your plans for the day, so thank you for your patience should we need to navigate the weather together. Should the weather make an outdoor ceremony impossible, the event would be held in the Field House, with limited seating capacity. 

Disembarkation & Bricklaying


Johnny O'Brien, 2023 Commencement Speaker

John A. “Johnny” O’Brien is the President Emeritus of the Milton Hershey School, Trustee Emeritus of Princeton University and the founder of Renaissance Leadership, Inc.


Johnny O'Brien

John A. “Johnny” O’Brien is the President Emeritus of the Milton Hershey School, Trustee Emeritus of Princeton University and the founder of Renaissance Leadership, Inc. Additionally, he is the author of “Semisweet: An Orphan's Journey through the School the Hersheys Built," a riveting and haunting account of O'Brien's experiences at the school, both as a student and then later, as its President.  

Mr. O’Brien's spent his formative years from age four through 18 as a student at the Milton Hershey School where he emerged as a leader of his Class of 1961 in sports, academics, and student government. He earned degrees in psychology and education at Princeton and Johns Hopkins Universities. Throughout his career, which includes serving as a Princeton University Trustee, he has specialized in education and issues related to leadership. He founded Renaissance Leadership, an executive leadership coaching firm, in 1978. He has been a keynote speaker, seminar leader and high performance coach for more than 50,000 managers and executives at leading American companies including Pfizer, AT&T, and American Express. Johnny writes and resides in Easton, Md and Vero Beach, FL with his wife Gail.

About “Semisweet

The Milton Hershey School is the richest and wealthiest K-12 residential school in the world. Its $12 billion trust fund, financed by sales of the iconic Hershey candy, eclipse that of Cornell, Dartmouth, and Johns Hopkins combined. Even more stunning is that the school for orphans owns The Hershey Company and not the other way around.

As the twentieth-century drew to a close, the School’s Board of Managers creatively interpreted the Founder’s mission and tried to turn the refuge for extremely needy children into more of a middle-class boarding school. The alumni “Homeguys” challenged the Board and, after a decade of legal struggle and national publicity, won the battle to reclaim the soul of the school.

Johnny O’Brien, an orphan who lived at the school growing up, helped to lead the successful alumni protest. In a shocking turn of events, he was then selected to become Milton Hershey School’s eighth president and tasked with restoring the mission, morale, and character-building culture of “the Home.” He would need all his orphan resilience, Princeton and Johns Hopkins wisdom, and his good friends, to transform this unusual and remarkable school.

In a riveting and haunting account, O’Brien tells a universal story about the vulnerability of needy children, describes the madness that consumed his beloved brother, explores the cruelty of bullies—both young and old, exposes the corrupting influence of money, and shows how the Milton Hershey School continues its sacred mission of saving thousands of America’s neediest children.