American dreams become lost if $4 billion suit succeeds


As a current alumnus of Milton Hershey School, I feel compelled to blog about the current $4 billion dollar lawsuit against my alma mater and home away from home.

I recently received an email from the President’s office at MHS indicating that a lawsuit was filed by a former student, but the letter was not addressing the student it was directing its focus on a man by the name of Fred Fouad, founder of Protect the Hersheys’ Children, INC also called PHC.

PHC mission is

…ending childcare incompetence at the MHS Board and Administrative levels, assuring use of all Hershey Trust land and cash resources strictly for MHS children, removing MHS Board conflicts of interest, and creation of an MHS Board that is dedicated to the Hersheys’ child-saving mission.

The mission is taken from the PHC website under its mission section and when I read the last portion dealing with removing MHS Board conflicts of interest and creation of an MHS Board my mind just wants to hit the computer screen. I am well aware that conflict of interests should be removed, but the total removal of the board seems far fetched when the point of MHS is to save children from poverty. How can an organization operate without a board that knows its task that the children come first? Futhermore, how can someone abolish the creation of a board when that board is made up of graduates from MHS?

President Colistra continues in his letter to Alumi with

Fred Fouad, a disgruntled alumnus who has spent the past decade seeking to undermine the School’s strong record of serving children in need. In published comments, Fouad has sought to distance himself from this legal action, suggesting he did not know what was in the complaint. That’s despite the fact that he drafted this action and threatened the School with it two years ago.

Now, it is obvious that the President wants to get across that Fouad is angry against the school, but I am interested in why. Well, there is no indication in the letter what MHS  may have done to Fouad personally, but it does say he was a former student and during that time kids left the school. I remember while attending MHS that kids left the school periodically. Mostly, kids that enrolled within the first couple of months or the first year left because the pressure of homesickness drew them away. This homesickness came from the parents and from the students.

One student specifically, came during my sophomore year and only stayed a few months. He was popular, loved the classes, and had a great time in his student home. My last memory of spending time with him was celebrating a birthday and having a small cake fight outside of the student home. A couple days after that I did not see him so I had asked our mutual friends where he’d gone. Turns out that he left the school because his mother missed him immensely. So, it wasn’t because the systematic institution in place at MHS that slashed the dreams of this child, but the sure distance that homesickness creates between people who love each other.

After reading the letter from President Colistra, I began to research online of any articles indicating the lawsuit. Of course, four billion dollars would not go unnoticed by the press. According to PennLive.com, the lawsuit filed against MHS is from a former honor -roll student Cosme Cesar Escudero-Aviles and his mother Sylvia Aviles-Escudero. They are seeking actually $3 million and wants $4 billion for a foundation benefiting current and future MHS students, my intuition says is is for PHC since the article does indicate that the family has been “linked” to PHC.

In this article, the family is basing their claims on that

…officials made jokes about his ethnicity and did not assist him when he was harassed by other students. They further claim Cesar was removed from the school without due process and that his treatment was indicative of systemic problems at the residency school for at-risk youths.

Certainly, I was not there to witness these allegations, but I never encountered school faculty or administration on any level really targeting a student because of their ethnicity. I do know that when students are harassed like myself immense conditions were upheld. I remember being taunted at within the first two weeks of arriving to MHS. Students made claims against my homosexuality. They would ask me if I was gay and just did the same harassing routine that I experienced in public school. The point of my going to MHS was to get away from that bullying. Well, I was proactive and went to my houseparents and told them I was being picked on and bullied. They immediately took care of the situation. They called HomeLife and the main boy who was instigating the harassment was confronted. He later came up to me an apologized. Funny how karma works, a year later the left the school. So, I know that if harassment was apart of Cesar’s life at MHS, he should have told his houseparents his concerns. They all are trained in these areas so they know exactly what to do. I really felt safe after my harassment was eliminated.

I am not exactly sure if Cesar had due process in being kicked out of MHS since I was not there, but I am aware that the school administration takes action to review cases of prior history into account. They look at your behavior and academic success and place that against whatever violation you may have committed. This process is shown in the MHS documentary: Living the Legacy: The Untold Story of Milton Hershey School which you can watch the whole thing by going to my post: The sweet tales and tears of Milton Hershey School. A group of officials do sit down and discuss the pros and cons of the student and whether or not they are threatening to the MHS community.

Knowing the exact facts of the story is crucial and neither does the letter from the president or the article written on PennLive gives too much information of what exactly took place in regards to Cesar. But, what is shown in the article is that four billion dollars is half of the endowment that fuels Milton Hershey School. This greatly affects many students who do succeed at MHS because the school does give their students upon graduation, college scholarships. I know, personally, that if I could not receive my MHS continuing edcaution scholarship I would not be in Pittsburgh attending college. I would not be able to honor my family. Without MHS period, I would not be able to have the gumption to a pursue the dream of becoming America’s Future Talk Show Host.

For all those students who could not make it through MHS because of behavior or just pure homesickness know this; you can still talk to those who did graduate from MHS. You are never forgotten. You are still a person who experienced MHS. All alumni and participants of MHS know internally that the school has been founded upon pure love and that love still is in motion so if you have been cast back into the waters of poverty, choose to love yourself and people around you because soon the universe will hear your cries. Just like it heard the chocolate philanthropist nearly 100 years ago when he failed he started again. You can still flourish at great heights, it is just that you need to take the first step to change. And not be selfish in asking for billions of dollars like Cesar and his mother because that brings about pure negativity and won’t help others who need MHS to battle poverty.

There are many students at MHS that deserve to find themselves and their dreams, and be able to not worry financially about furthering their education. If this lawsuit against MHS succeeds and the school loses a good portion of money that keeps the house warm and cozy then many lives and spirits will be torn and the home created by Milton and Catherine Hershey will no longer be a playground for students to find the essence of the American dream.

For more information:

Milton Hershey School- is a cost-free, private, coeducational home and school for children from families of low income, limited resources, and social need. The School is funded by a trust established by Milton S. Hershey and his wife Catherine. Milton Hershey School offers a positive, structured home life year-round and an excellent pre-kindergarten through 12th grade education. Our vision focuses on building character and providing children with the skills necessary to be successful in all aspects of life.  www.mhs-pa.org

Protect the Hershey’s Children- is a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to the well-being of Milton Hershey School (MHS) students; i.e., the children and sole lawful heirs of Milton & Catherine Hershey. www.protecthersheychildren.org 

Other posts:

The sweet tales and tears of Milton Hershey School 

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