Lo­cal triplets grad­u­ate from Mil­ton Her­shey School

The Community Connection - - LOCAL NEWS - By Mar­ian Den­nis mden­nis@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Mar­i­anDen­nis1 on Twit­ter

POTTSTOWN » As grad­u­a­tion sea­son ap­proaches, there is noth­ing more ex­cit­ing than the an­tic­i­pa­tion of new be­gin­nings.

No one knows that excitement bet­ter than the Oladipo triplets. The high school se­niors — Olayi­wola, Ola­jide and Abi­ola Oladipo — all of Pottstown, credit their school with chang­ing the course of their fu­ture. All three sib­lings will be grad­u­at­ing from The Mil­ton Her­shey School this sum­mer and said they have the school to thank for help­ing them achieve suc­cess that, in the past, they thought was not pos­si­ble.

The Mil­ton Her­shey School is a cost-free, pri­vate home and co-ed­u­ca­tional school for more than 2,000 chil­dren from fam­i­lies of lower in­come. The boys en­tered the school when they were only 2 years old af­ter one of their older sib­lings at­tended.

“My mom heard about the school through a family friend and did some re­search and ap­plied for my sis­ter. At the time, my mother lived in a shel­ter. Even­tu­ally she moved out but when we en­tered the school we were in a shel­ter. She was able to send us here and find a job and even­tu­ally move out of the shel­ter,” ex­plained Abi­ola.

While at the school, stu­dents are cared for by a mar­ried house par­ent cou­ple who have child-care ex­pe­ri­ence and who are there to pro­vide dis­ci­pline, sup­port and guid­ance, an as­pect of the school that the three boys say has helped them tremen­dously in achiev­ing their goals.

“They be­came a sec­ond set of par­ents for me and helped me grow and ma­ture,” Abi­ola said of his house par­ents. “They had two kids, Natalie and David and they be­came like sib­lings to me.”

“We would go home and they would make sure we did our work,” added Ola­jide.

Ac­cord­ing to the school, stu­dents live in ele­men­tary homes and then move to mid­dle di­vi­sion homes. In ninth through 11th grades they move to another set with a house par­ent cou­ple who take care of 8-12 stu­dents of the same gen­der.

But it wasn’t just from their house par­ents that the boys said they re­ceived the help they needed for a bright fu­ture.

“Our teach­ers ex­panded our ideas. I wouldn’t think about the fu­ture. I would tell them I didn’t know. They tried to guide me and put me in that di­rec­tion and ex­plained if you want to go here, that’s what you need to do,” said Ola­jide.

As part of the school’s Grad­u­ate Pro­grams for Suc­cess (GPS) Di­vi­sion, all Mil­ton Her­shey School stu­dents have the op­por­tu­nity to ac­crue up to $87,500 in schol­ar­ship money to con­tinue their ed­u­ca­tion. Based on good be­hav­ior through­out their time at MHS and an ap­proved post-grad­u­a­tion plan — which can in­clude a univer­sity, com­mu­nity col­lege or trade school — stu­dents re­ceive their schol­ar­ship funds af­ter they grad­u­ate. The school also offers guid­ance and sup­port af­ter grad­u­a­tion by pair­ing stu­dents with sup­port spe­cial­ists who as­sist with ques­tions about aca­demic, fi­nan­cial, so­cial and emo­tional de­ci­sions.

With the school’s help, the Oladipo triplets will be join­ing the 66 per­cent of their school’s grad­u­at­ing class in head­ing to a four-year col­lege af­ter their grad­u­a­tion on June 10. Olayi­wola and Ola­jide will be at­tend­ing Vil­lanova Univer­sity next year while Abi­ola will be­gin his post-high school ca­reer at Le­high Univer­sity.

The three also have big plans for be­yond col­lege, in­clud­ing a de­sire to give back to the school and take their ca­reers to new lev­els.

“I want to come back and be a part of the school’s board. I want to help with the school’s en­dow­ment and mis­sion to reach out to more kids and help them fo­cus on how to achieve their own goals,” said Olayi­wola, who will be study­ing fi­nance and ac­count­ing.

“I want a job in sports man­age­ment. It’s al­ways been my pas­sion. I would like to work on that,” added Ola­jide, who will be study­ing busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tion next year.

“I would love to work in aero­space in­dus­try. I al­ways loved en­gi­neer­ing, es­pe­cially flight and space travel. I’d like to have a ca­reer in that,” said Abi­ola, who will be study­ing in­te­grated en­gi­neer­ing. “I also want to give back in some ca­pac­ity. This school has given us a great op­por­tu­nity. I would like to give that sup­port to MHS. I would like to maybe serve as a teacher here later to give an op­por­tu­nity to stu­dents so they can have a face to face with an alum of the school and give them some ad­vice on what they have to do to be­come an en­gi­neer.”

For now, they are hop­ing that their story in­spires oth­ers who may be in a dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion, fi­nan­cially or oth­er­wise, to re­al­ize their dreams and find ways to make it a re­al­ity.

“I’m hop­ing that peo­ple read this story and are in­spired,” said Abi­ola. “At the be­gin­ning, we re­ally didn’t think about col­lege. The teach­ers and par­ents helped guide us. They helped us re­al­ize where we want to be.”

“I want to come back and be a part of the school’s board. I want to help with the school’s en­dow­ment and mis­sion to reach out to more kids and help them fo­cus on how to achieve their own goals.”

— Olayi­wola Oladipo

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF THE MIL­TON HER­SHEY SCHOOL

From left, Olayi­wola, Ola­jide, Abi­ola Oladipo, are set to grad­u­ate from The Mil­ton Her­shey School. All three will be headed to a four-year univer­sity.

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