The Hill vs. Lawrenceville Rivalry
Dating back to 1887, the rivalry between The Hill and Lawrenceville is the fifth-oldest high school rivalry in the United States. The first contest between the schools was a football game played in the fall of 1887, won by Lawrenceville.
Every year since the conclusion of World War II, the fall athletics season concludes with The Hill vs. Lawrenceville rivalry week. The week's athletics contests begin with the JV football game on Monday afternoon and conclude with all other contests (some years, water polo games are played mid-week) taking place on Saturday. On years when the games are played at Lawrenceville, the entire Hill student body travels to New Jersey to cheer on Hill's teams.
Spirit Week activities begin on Wednesday of Lawrenceville Week. The first thing one notices is the transformation the Dining Room undertakes as banners designed by each dorm hang from the balcony and on the walls. A favorite activity is "spoon banging," which takes place before each seated meal and often ends up being done in unison by the entire student body.
Each day of Spirit Week is a different theme day. Common themes are Twin Day, Pajama Day, Dress from a different Decade Day, and Friday is always Blue/Gray Day.
An aura of anticipation and excitement fills campus on Friday, the day before the big games. Friday night's events begin with the Red Meat Dinner and naming of the honorary captain. Then, students return to their dormitories and wait to receive the signal to proceed to Gillison Gym for the pep rally, where each varsity team performs a skit. Finally, students proceed to the landing area at the east end of the Dell for a bonfire. Many young alumni traditionally return for the pep rally and bonfire in preparation for the next day's games.
A tradition born in the rivalry's infancy is The Dirty Red Shirt. In 1894, Lawrenceville's football captain had a red shirt that was considered a good luck charm. He stated that the shirt would not be washed until Hill beat Lawrenceville in football, something that had not yet happened up to that point. True to word, when Hill first defeated Lawrenceville in 1897, the Dirty Red Shirt was washed. Since then, tradition states that if Lawrenceville wins, the shirt goes unwashed, but if Hill wins, the shirt must be washed. Hence, the chant "Wash That Shirt" was born and is a staple from Hill's fans during the annual football game.
The cup is named in honor of each school's founder: The Hill School's Matthew Meigs and Lawrenceville's John Cleve Green, and is meant to honor the fair play and respect in the heat of spirited competition the longstanding rivalry has come to represent.
2019: The Hill School - 9.5, Lawrenceville - 8.5
The Hill School: Matthew Meigs and the Meigs Family
After purchasing property upon a hill in Pottstown, Matthew Meigs opened The Family Boarding School for Boys and Young Men on May 1, 1851. Twenty-five boys enrolled in what was the first preparatory school founded as a boarding school in the United States. A passionate scholar of the classics, Meigs created a challenging, comprehensive curriculum, making Hill one of the country’s top academic institutions. He and his wife, Mary Gould Meigs, ran the School for 25 years until their son, John, assumed headmastership in 1876. Known as “The Professor,” the School thrived under John Meigs and his wife, Marion, with enrollment increasing from 25 in 1876 to 348 in 1911. Among his most enduring contributions were the designation of the “form” system in 1880, the formation of the Alumni Association in 1894, and the construction of two of the campus’ iconic buildings, the Alumni Chapel and Upper School Dormitory. In 1914, four years after John Meigs’ death, his son, Dwight, became Headmaster and oversaw expansion of the Dining Hall and the construction of Memorial Hall (currently Ryan Library). In 1920, he orchestrated the transition of ownership of the School from the Meigs family to governance by the Alumni Association. Dwight Meigs remained Headmaster until 1922, thus concluding the Meigs’ family’s 71-year stretch as school leaders.
Lawrenceville: John Cleve Green
John Cleve Green was one of nine boys to enroll at Lawrenceville (originally known as Maidenhead Academy) upon its opening in 1810. He moved to New York City in 1816 and became a prominent figure in the shipping industry, spending much of the 1830s in China before returning to New York City and becoming established in the business world. The John C. Green Foundation was created in 1875 following his passing. In his will, he left his residuary estate to four people who went on to purchase The Lawrenceville School in 1879.
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