By Karen Blackledge
The Daily Item
HERSHEY — One of the earliest challenges a young Danville woman faced was the death of her father.
Brittany Temple was 11 when her dad died in 2006, she told the other 185 fellow graduates during commencement exercises June 16 at the Milton Hershey School.
“Though my father and I did not have a perfect relationship, I felt like a piece of me was ripped out. I longed for a healthy father/daughter relationship but I could not let the death of my father be the ultimate turning point. I had to keep my head held high and wait for that angel that I had been praying for to come. That angel I later discovered was Milton Hershey School,” said Brittany, who plans to study psychology at Temple University.
Before enrolling at the Hershey school, she said she didn’t care about school, her grades were steadily decreasing and she was hanging out with the wrong crowd.
Her mother, Beth Temple, wanted more for Brittany. Because her cousin graduated from the Hershey school, Beth submitted an application. She sent in applications for four years. Brittany was accepted the summer of seventh grade.
“Life as I knew it was about to change for the better. I was about to become one of those Milton Hershey students who know the definition of perseverance,” she said.
When she arrived on campus, she was amazed by all the compassionate staff welcoming them. “My house parents were strict and I did not appreciate them my first year. Being a rebellious freshman, often times I would bad mouth my house parents because I did not like to listen to people who weren’t my real parents. Little did I know that they would become a very important part of my life and I would build a strong bond with them,” she said.
In closing, she said, “What matters most is we made it. Every mountain we have climbed and tears we have cried have paid off. As many of you go to college, into the work force or a branch of the military, never forget what you’ve learned at Milton Hershey School. Persevere through the challenges life throws at you and you will end up defeating them. They will not defeat you,” she said.
Also graduating from the school from Montour County was Becca James, of Danville, who plans to study elementary education at Millersville University.
Milton Hershey School is a free, private, coeducational school for preschoolers through 12th-graders from families of low income, limited resources and social need. It is funded by a trust established by Milton S. Hershey and his wife, Catherine.