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[5] 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
860 Beech St


Coordinates40°14′42″N 75°37′59″W / 40.2449°N 75.6331°W / 40.2449; -75.6331Coordinates: 40°14′42″N 75°37′59″W / 40.2449°N 75.6331°W / 40.2449; -75.6331
Other nameThe Hill
Former nameFamily Boarding School for Boys and Young Men (1851-74)
TypeIndependent selective college-preparatory boarding & day high school
MottoWhatsoever things are true
(Philippians 4:8)
Religious affiliation(s)Christianity
Established1851; 172 years ago (1851)
FounderMatthew Meigs
StatusCurrently operational
CEEB code394080
NCES School IDA0902935[1]
ChairJames L. Alexandre '75
ChaplainRev. Khristi Adams
Faculty74.1 (FTE)[1]
Grades9-12, PG
Enrollment529[1] (2019–20)
 • Grade 9108[1]
 • Grade 10126[1]
 • Grade 11142[1]
 • Grade 12153[1]
Average class size10
Student to teacher ratio7.1[1]
Hours in school day7.1[1]
Campus size200 acres (81 ha)
Campus typeSuburban
Color(s)Gray & Blue   
SongA Thousand Hands
Fight songDear Old Hill
Athletics conferenceMAPL
RivalThe Lawrenceville School
Endowment$163 million[3]
Annual tuition$63,870 (boarding)
$44,060 (day)
Revenue$57 million[3]
AffiliationTen Schools Admissions Organization[4]

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


The Hill School campus, facing northeast

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 1874.[6]

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."[7]

In 1998, the school became coeducational, enrolling 88 girls in its first year.[8]


In the early 20th century, The Hill was a feeder school for Princeton University;[9] a prominent "The Hill School Club" operated at Princeton for the benefit of alumni.[10] 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.[11] 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.[12] At one point, Lawrenceville and Hill sent more students to Princeton than all public schools combined.[13] Today, Hill alumni attend a wide variety of colleges.[14]

The Hill School offers classes in each of its nine academic departments and offers 28 Advanced Placement courses.[15]

Foreign languagesEdit

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

Partner schoolsEdit

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.[16] It is linked with the Maru a Pula School in Botswana.[17] As well, the Hill hosts a Thai King's Scholar every year.[18] The Hill School is a participating school in the Naval Academy Foundation Prep Program.[19]


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.[20]

The Hill School is a member of the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL), which the School joined in 1998.[21] The Hill School was a charter member of the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association (PAISAA), which became an officially sanctioned organization in 2011.[22] 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. It is the fifth-oldest high school rivalry in the United States.[23] Originally an annual football game, the schools 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.[24]

Participation in athletics is considered a vital part of a Hill education. All third and fourth form students must 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 Quad, facing west

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.[25][26] It has also been described as conservative.[27]

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."[28] The Hill has been criticized, alongside other East Coast Protestant schools, for promoting "snobbish", undemocratic, and "un-American values".[29][30]

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.[31]

Notable alumniEdit


Headmasters of The Hill School since its founding in 1851:[32]

Name Tenure Education Notes
Matthew Meigs 1851–1876 Union College, Union Theological Seminary Presbyterian minister and former President of Delaware College.[33]
John Meigs 1876–1911 Hill, Lafayette College Took over as headmaster at age 24.[34]
Alfred G. Rolfe 1911–1914
Dwight R. Meigs 1914–1922 Son of John Meigs, who created the current dining room, described by the school as "a pivotal gathering space on The Hill School’s campus."[35]
Dr. Boyd Edwards 1922–1928 [36]
James Wendell 1928–1952 Wesleyan Olympic silver medalist in 110 m hurdles[37]
Edward (Ned) T. Hall 1952–1968 Also served as ice hockey coach[38]
Archibald R. Montgomery[39] 1968–1973 Westminster, Penn Left to become headmaster of St. Stephen's Episcopal School. Former United States Marine.
Charles C. Watson 1973–1993 Former U.S Navy officer[40]
David R. Dougherty 1993–2012 Episcopal High School, Washington and Lee University Oversaw shift to co-ed school[41]
Zachary G. Lehman 2012–2022 Phillips Exeter Academy, Dartmouth College, Harvard Law School [42]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Search for Private Schools – School Detail for The Hill School". National Center for Education Statistics. Institute of Education Sciences. Retrieved 13 December 2022.
  2. ^ a b Hill School (The), Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Elementary and Secondary Schools. Accessed January 7, 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Form 990" (PDF). Internal Revenue Service. 2019. Retrieved 6 February 2022.
  4. ^ "The Hill School". Ten Schools Admission Organization. Retrieved 15 March 2018.
  5. ^ "The Hill School Campus". Retrieved 2017-06-22.
  6. ^ "Hill School History and Trivia". Retrieved July 26, 2017.
  7. ^ Chancellor, Paul (1976). The History of the Hill School:1851-1976.
  8. ^ TheHillSchool1851 (2016-05-10), The Hill School's Historic Move to Coeducation in 1998 (2016), archived from the original on 2017-04-06, retrieved 2017-06-22
  9. ^ Princeton Alumni Weekly. Vol. 12. Princeton Publishing Company. 1911. PRNC:32101077278289.
  10. ^ Princeton Alumni Weekly. Vol. 11. Princeton Publishing Company. 1910. PRNC:32101081974675.
  11. ^ Scott Fitzgerald, F. (2015-06-20). The Complete Works of F. Scott Fitzgerald: Novels, Short Stories, Poetry ... - F. Scott Fitzgerald - Google Books. ISBN 9788026838975. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  12. ^ Williams, Jesse Lynch; Norris, Edwin Mark (1994). "Princeton Alumni Weekly - Google Books". Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  13. ^ Powell, Arthur G. (1996). Lessons from Privilege: The American Prep School Tradition - Arthur G. Powell - Google Books. ISBN 9780674525498. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  14. ^ "The Hill School College Matriculation". 2017-06-16. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  15. ^ "Advancement Placement Courses". The Hill School. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  16. ^ "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 ten years), a theatre trip, choir visits, football matches, and a teaching exchange."
  17. ^ "Student Exchanges | Maru-a-Pula School". Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  18. ^ "Profile for Colleges" (PDF).
  19. ^ "About Us - ASP Programs". 2001-11-09. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  20. ^ Bundgaard, Axel (2005-07-11). Muscle and Manliness: The Rise of Sport in American Boarding Schools - Axel Bundgaard - Google Books. ISBN 9780815630821. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  21. ^ "Mid-Atlantic Prep League". Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  22. ^ "Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association". Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  23. ^ 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."
  24. ^ "Recordings of Hill Day wins for football and field hockey now available | Peddie School". 2014-10-13. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  25. ^ Morrow, Brendan (2016-05-25). "Eric Trump, Donald's Son: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know". Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  26. ^ Douglas, George H. (2015-01-13). Edmund Wilson's America - George H. Douglas - Google Books. ISBN 9780813159232. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  27. ^ Tuccille, Jerome (2003). Kingdom: The Story of the Hunt Family of Texas - Jerome Tuccille - Google Books. ISBN 9781587982262. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  28. ^ Strauss, Valerie (2010-09-24). "The Answer Sheet - The education of Oliver Stone". Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  29. ^ Kingston, Paul W.; Lewis, Lionel Stanley (1990-03-27). The High Status Track: Studies of Elite Schools and Stratification - Paul W. Kingston - Google Books. ISBN 9780791400104. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  30. ^ "Who Was Hobie Weekes?". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  31. ^ (a1) State University of New York (2017-02-24). "Education of an Elite | History of Education Quarterly | Cambridge Core". History of Education Quarterly. 28 (3): 367–386. doi:10.2307/369088. JSTOR 369088. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  32. ^ Early Hill School History (1851-2012), The Hill School. Accessed January 5, 2018.
  33. ^ 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."
  34. ^ 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.
  35. ^ 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."
  36. ^ 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."
  37. ^ Staff. "Dr. James Wendell, Headed Hill School", The New York Times, November 23, 1958. Accessed January 5, 2018.
  38. ^ 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."
  39. ^ "Archibald R. Montgomery Iii, Educator".
  40. ^ 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."
  41. ^ 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."
  42. ^ 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."

External linksEdit