Hill School Traditions
During lunch on Monday through Friday and one night a week during the fall and spring terms, the entire school community gathers in the Dining Room for a family-style seated meal. Sit-down meals maintain traditions at The Hill. Chapel talks, for example, may be inspired in the Dining Room. The Dining Room, where students eat with their teachers and peers, sometimes is a better (classroom) than the classrooms, dormitories, and athletics fields.
Hill students are required to attend nondenominational Chapel services twice a week. This is a time for the entire community to get together and reflect on others’ insights and life-affecting experiences. Any sixth form (senior) student may give a Chapel talk, and the School encourages all students to do so during their time at The Hill. One Chapel tradition is that sixth form students have designated seating in the front of the sanctuary. At a year-end Closing Ceremony in the Chapel service, fifth formers (juniors) “move up” to take the seats of the seniors who are graduating.
The Hill maintains a formal academic dress code that requires boys to wear a coat and tie and girls to wear a blazer and appropriate collared Oxford shirt. Academic Dress will be worn throughout the academic day whenever students are in an academic or public area, Chapel services, sit-down meals, required evening performances, or any other designated occasion. Students will wear academic dress beginning with breakfast through the final class whether or not a student has completed all class obligations.
The Hill School and the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey maintain the fifth-oldest high school sports rivalry in the United States, with the first contest between the schools dating back to 1887. On the second Saturday of each November, the schools meet to renew this athletics rivalry. In the week leading up to the games, The Hill holds a Hill vs. Lawrenceville Spirit Week that includes theme dress days; the “passing of the brooms” among fall varsity captains to signify the hoped-for “sweep” of Lawrenceville; students banging spoons on Dining Room tables prior to singing “Dear Old Hill” before seated lunches; the Red Meat Dinner, the only Friday seated dinner of the year and symbolically tied to the color red, Lawrenceville’s primary color; and a pep rally and bonfire.
Following the annual Commencement ceremony, most of the new graduates jump in The Dell, the on-campus pond, as a way of officially marking their graduation from The Hill and sharing one final bonding experience with their classmates. There has long been debate over who first began the “Jumping in the Dell” ritual. Comments provided in response to a query on The Hill’s Facebook page have indicated that the tradition was indeed started by students in The Hill School’s then all-boys class of ’82. Somewhere between the years of 1985 and 1986, the Dell jump became an “official” tradition for the entire class. (Hill became coeducational in 1998, so the first co-ed Dell jump occurred in 1999.)
“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 ...."
The Hill has two traditional songs - A Thousand Hands and Dear Old Hill. The former, drawing on The Hill's concept of a student body of around 500+ students, is sung during Chapel services and at other special Hill events. The latter, a student-favorite fight song, is mostly sung during Lawrenceville Weekend, at the Red Meat Dinner, and sports contests. During the Red Meat Dinner, sixth formers stand up on their chairs in the Dining Room when they sing, marking the last time they will celebrate The Hill and Lawrenceville's historic rivalry.
A game unique to The Hill, “javelin ball” or j-ball is similar to baseball but is played with a tennis ball, tennis racquet, and modified rules. Only one player on the field may use a glove, fielders may peg a base runner with the tennis ball to get them out, and there are two outs per inning. J-ball season opens on the first Sunday of the final six-week long academic list of the spring and runs until the end of the year. While there is some debate as to when the game originated, recent research suggests it was in the late 1960s.
Faculty and Student Coffee is a special event only for the sixth form. Held after seated dinner in the fall and spring terms, the tradition sees sixth formers and faculty members enjoying coffee, tea, and other refreshments while chatting against the backdrop of a beautiful Pottstown sunset. It's a perfect time for students to talk with their teachers in a casual environment outside of the classroom, and it also provides some great opportunities for students to reminisce about their years at The Hill as graduation approaches.
All sixth form students are required to purchase the distinguished navy blue Hill sixth form blazer, which is embellished with a patch bearing The Hill School crest and the student's year of graduation. The blazers may be ordered at the end of the fifth form year or beginning of the sixth form year, but, in keeping with tradition, it may not be worn until the students' sixth form year. All graduates wear their Sixth Form Blazers during Hill's Commencement ceremony.
All male Hill students receive an official blue and gray diagonally striped Hill tie, which represents The Hill School. After the move to coeducation in 1998, female students began to receive beautiful blue and gray silk scarves with the classic Hill tie stripes. Hill ties and scarves are presented to graduating sixth formers at the Alumni Association brunch the day before Commencement to mark their passage from being Hill students to becoming Hill alumni.
The Women of The Hill Sixth Form Tea is a tradition that was created in 2002 by Kay Dougherty, wife of former Headmaster David Dougherty, to honor the first graduating class of girls who completed four years at The Hill. The tradition has been carried on to honor all sixth form girls. Now hosted by Mrs. Amy Lehman, wife of current Headmaster Zachary Lehman, the sixth form girls celebrate their last week of school prior to graduation by spending time with each other and female faculty members; mothers of the graduates also are invited to attend. It is a special time for the girls to get together and take photographs with friends and teachers while enjoying refreshments together.