|Type||Private, Boarding, Prep|
|Motto||Integritas, Virilitas, Fidelitas (Integrity, Virility, Fidelity)|
|Religious affiliation(s)||historically tied to United Church of Christ|
|Head of School||Katherine Titus|
|Faculty||106, 73% with advanced degrees|
|Average class size||12 students|
|Student to teacher ratio||5:1|
|Campus||Rural, 300 acres (2 km²)|
|Color(s)||Blue and White|
|Athletics||26 sports; 24 varsity teams, 20 junior varsity, thirds, and club teams|
|Location||PA 16, Mercersburg, Pennsylvania|
|Area||15 acres (6.1 ha)|
|Architectural style||Classical Revival, Late Gothic Revival|
|NRHP reference No.||84003374 |
|Added to NRHP||June 21, 1984|
Mercersburg Academy is a selective private, independent, coed college preparatory boarding school of approximately 435 students in grades 9-12, including postgraduates, located in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, about 90 miles northwest of Washington, D.C. The school, which was founded in 1893, is set on 300 acres and is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
On March 31, 1836, the Pennsylvania General Assembly granted a charter to Marshall College to be located in Mercersburg. Dr. Frederick Augustus Rauch came from Switzerland to be the first president of the college under the sponsorship of the Reformed Church in the United States. Dr. Rauch served as president from 1836 until 1841. His successor in the position was John Williamson Nevin who served until 1853, when Marshall College joined with Franklin College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to become Franklin & Marshall College. At this time, the preparatory department of Marshall College became known as Marshall Academy which later changed to Marshall Collegiate Institute. In 1865, the name was again changed to Mercersburg College, under whose charter the school continues to operate. The historic tie to the church continues through Mercersburg's membership in the Council for Higher Education of the United Church of Christ.
On April 27, 1893, the Board of Regents elected Dr. William Mann Irvine, who had joined Franklin & Marshall College as an instructor after receiving his Ph.D. in political science from Princeton University in 1892 (and eventually an LL.D.), to become the headmaster at the age of 28. In July, Dr. Irvine changed the name of the institution to Mercersburg Academy and began his work as the founder of the present-day preparatory school. In the fall of 1893, he opened the school with an enrollment of 40 boys, four instructors and 4 acres (16,000 m2) of ground. During Dr. Irvine's tenure, three dormitories, a dining hall, gymnasium, infirmary, administration building and the Chapel were built. A new Main Hall and Annex were built after a fire gutted Old Main in 1927.
After Dr. Irvine's death on June 11, 1928, Dr. Boyd Edwards was elected headmaster, where he remained until he retired in 1941. After his retirement, Dr. Charles S. Tippetts '12 resigned from a deanship at the University of Pittsburgh to become headmaster, where he remained for 20 years. During this time, Irvine Hall was completed and the James Buchanan Cabin was moved onto the campus. His successor was William C. Fowle, who came from the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut. Fowle's tenure saw Tippetts Hall completed, Boone Hall constructed and Ford Hall constructed. In 1969, Mercersburg again became a coeducational school.
In 1972, Walter H. Burgin Jr. '53 was appointed the school's fifth headmaster. Burgin had been a member and the chairman of Mercersburg's mathematics department from 1959 to 1964 and was teaching at Phillips Exeter Academy at the time of his appointment. Burgin oversaw a comprehensive reshaping of the Academy's academic facilities, the building of Lenfest Hall, and the integration of technology into community and classroom life.
Douglas Hale was appointed head of school in 1997, coming from Baylor School in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he had been a teacher, assistant headmaster, and eventually headmaster since 1973. During Hale's tenure, Mercersburg's endowment grew from $64 million in 1997 to $251 million in June 2015; all dormitories were renovated with new faculty apartments; the Smoyer Tennis Center and the Davenport Squash Center were constructed; the Prentiss-Zimmerman Quad was completely renovated in 2009; Nolde Gymnasium, the second oldest building on campus (1912), received a complete renovation in 2010—the same year that Regents' Field, the school's first synthetic-turf athletic field, was completed; the Burgin Center for the Arts was dedicated in 2006; and in 2013 the Simon Student Center was opened after a total renovation and enlargement.
Hale was succeeded in 2016 by Katherine Titus, who is the first female head of school in the Academy's history. Before coming to Mercersburg, Titus spent 11 years at St. George's School in Rhode Island, most recently as associate head for school life. She had previously worked as dean of students and assistant head for student life at St. George's, and before that, was director of college counseling at Pingree School in Massachusetts. Titus is a graduate of Middlebury College and Columbia University.
The school now offers 170 courses and has 106 faculty members (including 77 with master's degrees and four with doctorates).
Mercersburg Academy today
Now set on 300 acres (1.2 km2), Mercersburg serves grades 9–12 and postgraduate. As of the 2019–2020 school year, 442 students are enrolled: 51 percent boys and 49 percent girls. 84 percent of the students are boarding students, while 16 percent are day students. The school has a 33 percent acceptance rate.
Students come from around the world, representing 36 nations and 27 American states and the District of Columbia. International students account for 20 percent of the student body, and 25 percent of domestic students are persons of color.
Tuition and financial aid
Base tuition for the 2019–2020 school year is $60,680 for boarding students and $35,960 for day students. 50 percent of Academy students receive financial aid (need- and merit-based). The school's total financial-aid budget is more than $7 million. Mercersburg merit scholarships include the Arce Scholarships, the Guttman Scholarship, the Hale Scholarship, the Legacy Scholarships, the Mercersburg Scholarships, the Regents Scholarships, the Witmer Scholarship, and the 1893 Scholarship.
The Academy has an endowment of $297 million, making it one of the highest endowment-per-student independent schools in the country. On October 10, 2013, Mercersburg alumna Deborah Simon '74 pledged $100 million to the school, making her gift the largest in the school's history and one of the largest ever to an independent secondary school in the United States.
Mercersburg offers 170 traditional courses, including more than 40 honors, Advanced Placement, and post-AP courses.
78 percent of the Mercersburg Class of 2017 was accepted by one or more colleges defined as “Most Competitive” or “Highly Competitive” by Barron's Profiles of American Colleges, with 68 percent accepted by one of U.S. News & World Report’s Top 50 National Universities or Top 50 Liberal Arts Colleges.
Mercersburg holds its students to a strict honor code.
"As a member of the Mercersburg Academy community, I hereby agree to honor its standards of integrity, truth, and courage. On my honor, I pledge that I will not lie, cheat, or steal. In all my endeavors, I will work toward building trust by upholding, in spirit and in letter, these community standards."
Any paper or test submitted or handed in by a student is required to have the honor code written on it: "Upon my honor, I have neither given nor received aid with this work."
Any form of violation of the honor code may result in dismissal from the institution.
Mercersburg's 300-acre campus includes seven student residences and three main academic buildings housing 47 classrooms and labs; 10 playing fields (including a synthetic-turf field); a gymnasium complex; a tennis center, squash center, and outdoor track; and a 65,500-square-foot arts center.
- Main Hall was first constructed in 1837, but was demolished in a fire in 1927. It was rebuilt that year and opened in 1928. Main Hall was an original building on campus and has been used as a dormitory and classroom space. It was renovated in 1998 and today it is exclusively a boys' dormitory.
- Traylor Hall, completed in 1922, is home to the Head of School's Office, the Office of Admission and Financial Aid, the Business Office, and the Office of Summer Programs.
- The Irvine Memorial Chapel was built in 1926 under the supervision and planning of Dr. William Mann Irvine by architect Ralph Adams Cram. The Chapel was designed in Gothic style and houses a large pipe organ and a traditional carillon in its tower.
- Lenfest Hall is named for alumnus H. F. "Gerry" Lenfest '49 (a former president of Mercersburg's Board of Regents). Its contemporary design was intended to mirror the Irvine Memorial Chapel, which sits on the opposite side of the school's Prentiss-Zimmerman Quadrangle. Dedicated in 1993, Lenfest Hall houses the school's library (which has 50,000 volumes and various digital assets and capabilities); classrooms and offices for the history department; and the school archives.
- Irvine Hall is a four-story classroom building; it was originally dedicated in 1949 and completely renovated in 1993. The building houses the office of the Academic Dean; classrooms and offices for the mathematics, science, and classical and modern languages departments; and the headquarters for the Office of Informational Technology, as well as the Sheridan Gallery, which houses works that are part of the school's permanent collection and is also used as a classroom.
- Nolde Gymnasium was built in 1912; it has seen numerous expansions over the years and received a complete renovation in 2010. It is part of the Goldthorpe Athletic Complex, which also contains the Plantz Courts (1968), the Wrestling Center (1998), the McDowell Fitness Center (1998), the Davenport Squash Center (2004), the Hale Field House (2017), and the Lloyd Aquatic Center with the 50-meter Furnary Pool (2019). The Smoyer Tennis Center (2001) and the synthetic-turf Regents' Field (2009), as well as numerous other playing fields, are part of the total athletic center but set apart from Goldthorpe.
- Rutledge Hall includes classrooms and offices for the English department and is connected to Keil Hall, a historic dormitory that houses the Edwards Room—which has at various times in the school's history served as a library, dining room, performance space, and student lounge. It includes 36 Tiffany windows adorned with some of the names of colleges and universities attended by Mercersburg students at the time of its dedication in 1900.
- The Burgin Center for the Arts opened in 2006 and houses all aspects of the school's performing and visual arts curriculum. It stands on the former site of Boone Hall (the school's previous auditorium). The entire building is 65,500 square feet (6,090 m2) and includes theatres, dance studios, gallery spaces, visual-art labs and studios, a scene shop, classroom space, and offices for the fine arts department.
- Ford Hall was built in 1965 and is the school's dining hall, where the Academy maintains its tradition of serving meals family-style. The hall is named in honor of Edward E. Ford '12, namesake of the E.E. Ford Foundation, which provided funds for the building. The Jimmy Walker and Jane Ford lounges on the upper level of the building—as well as the hall's main entrance—were completely renovated in 2013.
- The Simon Student Center, located on the lower level of Ford Hall, opened in 2013 after a total renovation and enlargement. It includes a large, circular student lounge with a small thrust stage for live performances; a cafe; a theatre-style HDTV room and game tables; an expanded school store and post office; meeting space for student clubs and organizations; and a handful of administrative offices.
- The Masinter Outdoor Education Center was built in 2004 through a contribution from Edgar Masinter '48, a former president of Mercersburg's Board of Regents. It houses a 30-foot climbing wall for Mercersburg Outdoor Education (MOE) and Mercersburg Summer and Extended Programs and was created by a 10,000-square-foot timber-frame barn.
- What is now the Prentiss Alumni and Parent Center at North Cottage once housed Mercersburg's head of school and family. While the head of school's family now resides across the street in 1893 House (opened in 2013), North Cottage includes guest rooms and a welcome center for alumni and visitors, and a 2016 addition created workspace for Mercersburg's Office of Advancement and Alumni Relations and Office of Strategic Marketing and Communications.
- The Class of 1938 Observatory was given to the school as the 60th reunion gift of class members and has been in use since 2003.
- The McFadden Model Railroad Museum is a collection of model trains resulting from the merging of two major collections and other minor donations. The John B. McFadden collection includes many items manufactured by the Lionel Train Company, dating from the pre-Depression years to the 1970s. The collection was given a home at the Academy in 1973 and includes at least 80 engines, as many as 200 pieces of rolling stock, and more than 200 feet of operating track.
- The James Buchanan Cabin (believed to be the birthplace of the only Pennsylvanian to be elected president of the United States) was originally located at Stony Batter, an early trading post about 2.5 miles west of campus, and was erected sometime prior to 1791. It was moved to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, where it served a variety of uses. To ensure that the cabin would be properly stored and maintained, the school purchased it in 1953 and placed it near Nolde Gymnasium on campus.
- Keil Hall – located above the historic Edwards Room and Rutledge Hall (which is home to the English Department). Offered to 11th and 12th-grade boarders.
- Main Hall – the original dorm and first building constructed as part of the school. Offered to 10th, 11th, and 12th-grade boarders.
- Tippetts Hall – has three floors with one wing reserved for ninth graders; home to all ninth-grade boarding boys along with some 10th, 11th, and 12th graders.
- Fowle Hall – home to all ninth and 10th-grade boarding girls, as well as some 11th and 12th-grade boarders.
- South Cottage – one of the oldest buildings on campus; used as a hospital for wounded soldiers during the Civil War. Part of its roof was blown off during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Offered to 11th- and 12th-grade boarders.
- Swank Hall – formerly a boys' dorm known as the Main Annex. Offered to 11th- and 12th-grade boarders.
- Culbertson House – a freestanding home on campus that houses 10 students and a separate faculty family apartment. It was changed from a boys’ dorm to a girls’ dorm in 2018. Offered to 10th, 11th- and 12-grade boarders.
All dormitories were completely renovated in the 1990s and early 2000s and are air-conditioned and fully wired with wireless and Ethernet connections; each dorm is also home to a number of faculty members and their families.
Since 2000, Mercersburg has been a member of the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL), which includes Blair Academy, The Hill School, The Hun School of Princeton, Lawrenceville School and Peddie School. Mercersburg has produced 54 Olympians in its history. Mercersburg's vaunted swimming teams most recently won the Eastern Interscholastic Swimming & Diving Championships in 2016 (girls) and 2010 (boys). The baseball team has captured several PAISAA state championships (most recently in 2008) and won or shared the MAPL title every year from 2011 to 2018; the girls' basketball team won the 2016 state championship and the softball team earned the state title in 2012. Some of the Division I colleges where Mercersburg graduates compete in varsity athletics have included Air Force, Army, Bucknell, Boston University, College of Charleston, Cornell, Duke, Florida State, Georgetown, Harvard, Lehigh, Miami (Fla.), Navy, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Penn, Penn State, Southern California, Syracuse, Texas, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, Virginia, West Virginia, and Yale.
The sports offered are as follows:
- Cross Country
- Cross Country
- Field Hockey
- Track & Field (indoor)
- Track & Field (indoor)
- Track & Field (outdoor)
- Track & Field (outdoor)
- MOE - Mercersburg Outdoor Education
- Ski Mountaineering
- Downhill Ski
- Rivers & Trails
Mercersburg offers curricular and extracurricular programs in theatre, choral and instrumental music, dance, and visual arts, all of which are headquartered in the school's Burgin Center for the Arts.
Burgin Center for the Arts
Standing on the former site of Boone Hall, the Burgin Center for the Arts opened in the fall of 2006, providing dedicated space to house the school's entire theatre, music, dance, and visual arts curriculum. The 65,500-square-foot facility is named for alumnus and former headmaster Walter Burgin '53 and his wife, Barbara. Designed by Polshek Partnership, the Burgin Center hosts concerts, theatre productions, guest speakers, and all-school meetings. Violinist Itzhak Perlman performed at the building's opening gala.
The Burgin Center houses:
- A 600-seat proscenium stage (Simon Theatre)
- A 120-seat studio “black box” theatre (Hale Studio Theatre)
- Two gallery spaces
- Two recital/rehearsal halls
- Two dance studios
- A digital art lab
- A digital music lab
- Four art studios, including a drawing studio, a painting studio, a sculpture studio and a ceramics studio
- A scene shop
- An acting studio and a general arts classroom
- Several practice rooms and faculty offices
Stony Batter Players (Theatre)
Mercersburg embraced the performing arts as early as 1899 with the formation of Stony Batter, the school's first drama group. Stony Batter was created by Camille Irvine, the wife of founding headmaster William Mann Irvine. The name “Stony Batter” was adopted in honor of the place near campus where U.S. President James Buchanan was born. Today the group is known as Stony Batter Players. Recent productions have included Fiddler on the Roof, Mamma Mia!, Proof, The Real Inspector Hound, Chicago, The Diary of Anne Frank, Antigone: An Apocalypse, Legally Blonde: The Musical, Urinetown, Mere Mortals, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, World War Z, and Lend Me A Tenor, among others. In the spring, Stony Batter typically performs scenes from the classical or Shakespearean repertoire or a modern “10-Minute Play Festival.” Hollywood legend and Oscar-winner Jimmy Stewart '28 performed in Stony Batter productions while a student at Mercersburg.
Music played an integral role at Mercersburg practically from the beginning. Dr. Irvine led the Mercersburg Academy Glee Club for a number of years, and in 1901 he published The Mercersburg Academy Song Book.
The Octet, the boys' a cappella group organized in 1947, performs at least three times each year. The Glee Club preceded the Octet and was the school's premier musical group for decades until it disbanded in 1976—a reflection of Mercersburg's then new coed status—after which emerged the Mercersburg Chorale, a mixed chorus for boys and girls, and Magalia, the girls' a cappella group. Both ensembles are very active today. The Chapel Choir has existed since the building of the Irvine Memorial Chapel in 1926. Today the choirs perform at major school events, such as Convocation and Baccalaureate, in addition to occasional services in the Chapel and elsewhere in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Students with an interest in instrumental music have the opportunity to perform in the Mercersburg Jazz Band, Concert Band, or the String Ensemble. The school offers private music lessons through teachers from the Cumberland Valley School of Music or private studios for an additional fee.
Prior to 2003, the school showcased official dance recitals, musical-theatre performances, and a dance troupe called Storm Front that performed during halftime of home football games—but all of these activities were extracurricular. In 2003, dance formally entered the Mercersburg curriculum, and the program came into its own in 2006 with the opening of the Burgin Center for the Arts and its two large, dedicated dance studios (the first in the school's history). The crux of the dance program today focuses on dance technique at various levels, including ballet, modern, jazz, tap, yoga, and strength training. The curriculum also includes three levels of dance composition. Two formal concerts are presented each year, in the fall and spring.
Mercersburg's studio arts curriculum includes media ranging from ceramics to digital video art, sculpture, painting, and drawing. Student artwork is displayed in the Burgin Center for the Arts and across the campus. In recent years, 11 students have captured awards in the annual Mid-Atlantic Prep League Art Exhibition, and five students had their work exhibited at the National K12 Ceramic Exhibition (considered to be the foremost juried ceramic competition for students in the U.S.).
The Carillon and Organ
The Swoope Carillon in Barker Tower of the Irvine Memorial Chapel is one of 163 traditional carillons in the United States. A gift of Mr. Henry B. Swoope, the original 43 bronze bells were cast in 1926 by the English firm of Gillett and Johnston of Croydon. The bells contain bits of historic metal collected worldwide by alumni and friends of the school, including copper coins, metal from Old Ironsides, pieces of artillery shells gathered from the fields of France in World War I, a shaving from the Liberty Bell, and bits from Admiral Nelson's flagship at Trafalgar, HMS Victory. The tower is named for Bryan Barker, who was the school's carillonneur for more than 50 years.
Six additional upper bells were added in 1996 and the 50th bell—a low C#—was added in 2008 and dedicated to Barker's successor as carillonneur, James W. Smith. With the whole school assembled to watch, the 50th bell was lifted into place in May 2008, and it was first played by Smith a few days later after the mechanics had been put in place. Smith served as carillonneur from 1981 until he died in 2009.
The Chapel organ was a gift of Mr. and Mrs. George A. Wood. Built by the Skinner Organ Company of Boston in 1925, the organ has 55 stops, about 4,000 pipes, 27 couplers, and 33 adjustable combination pistons.
The Washington Irving Literary Society and John Marshall Literary Society—the school's oldest student organizations—trace their roots back before Mercersburg Academy was even established. Before Marshall College moved to Lancaster to become Franklin & Marshall College, its students created the Diagnothian and Goethean literary societies. In 1865, after the founding of Mercersburg College, the Washington Irving Literary Society was born; within a year, the rival John Marshall Literary Society emerged. William Mann Irvine helped revive the two societies at the Academy's founding, and the rival societies have competed against one another ever since. All students attending Mercersburg are members of one of the two societies; those with family members who preceded them at the school can choose to represent the same society. Otherwise, society officers meet early in the school year to select new students for each group. (This replaces the early practice of returning students racing to meet stagecoaches carrying new students to campus, in hopes of convincing those students to join a particular society.)
What began as a midwinter debate competition has evolved into a week of intense competition in everything from basketball and swimming to chess and poker. The climactic event of the week is Declamation, a speaking contest where five representatives from each society deliver prepared monologues. Winners of each event during the week earn points for their respective societies, with the largest number of points awarded at Declamation. The winning society claims bragging rights for the next 12 months.
Each year, on the Friday evening of Alumni Weekend (often held in October), students gather on the steps of Main Hall for Step Songs, which involves the singing of school songs and traditional cheers as a pep rally for the next day's athletic contests, usually against a Mid-Atlantic Prep League opponent. The tradition evolved into its present form from that of an annual concert given for visiting alumni by the Glee Club—under the direction of Headmaster Irvine. (Irvine suffered a stroke during Step Songs in 1928 and died a week later.)
In a tradition known as "Painting the Numbers," the school seniors gather late one night each fall to paint the school's Academy Drive entrance with their class year. The paint often stays visible until the following fall.
Mercersburg holds its commencement exercises outdoors on a raised graduation platform of grass and stone between South Cottage and Keil Hall. It is tradition for students to avoid setting foot on the platform their entire academic careers prior to commencement day. Graduates do not wear traditional caps and gowns to the ceremony; instead, girls wear white dresses and boys wear coats and ties. The class valedictorian receives his/her diploma first, while two class marshals (elected by members of the class) and the senior-class president are the final students to be announced as graduates. A baccalaureate ceremony is held in the Irvine Memorial Chapel the evening before commencement.
Mercersburg has produced many outstanding individuals, including 54 Olympians (who have won 12 gold medals), seven Rhodes Scholars, several Fulbright Scholars, a Nobel Prize winner, two Academy Award winners, and two Emmy Award winners.
Medal of Honor recipients
Nobel Prize recipient
Olympic gold medalists
- Bill Carr 1929 - athletics, 400m and 4 × 400 m relay, 1932 Summer Olympics
- Harry Glancy 1924 - swimming, 4 × 200 m freestyle relay, 1924 Summer Olympics
- Robert Leavitt 1903 - athletics, 110m hurdles, 1906 Summer Olympics
- Ted Meredith 1912 - athletics, 800m and 4 × 400 m relay, 1912 Summer Olympics
- Betsy Mitchell 1983 - swimming, 4 × 100 m medley relay, 1984 Summer Olympics
- Charles Moore Jr. 1947 - athletics, 400m hurdles and 4 × 400 m relay, 1952 Summer Olympics
- Richard Saeger 1982 - swimming, 4 × 200 m freestyle relay, 1984 Summer Olympics
- Melvin Stewart 1988 - swimming, 200m butterfly and 4 × 100 m medley relay, 1992 Summer Olympics
- Allen Woodring 1918 - athletics, 200m, 1920 Summer Olympics
Academy Award winners
- Benicio del Toro 1985 - Best Supporting Actor for Traffic (2000); also known for The Usual Suspects, 21 Grams, Che
- James Stewart 1928 - Best Actor for The Philadelphia Story (1940); also known for It's a Wonderful Life, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
- Robert N. Cunningham Jr. 1921
- Edward F. D'Arms 1921
- Dudley L. Harley 1927
- Cresson H. Kearny 1933
- Robert H. Michelet 1930
- Laurence A.L. Scott 1924
- James M. Tunnell 1928
- Ann M. Blair 1979 - Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor of History at Harvard University, 2002 MacArthur Fellows Program recipient
Arts and Literature
- Bill Baldwin 1953 - science-fiction author, The Helmsman series
- Luke Ebbin 1985 - composer and Grammy-nominated record producer
- Walker Evans 1921, noted American photographer
- Walter Farley 1935 - author, The Black Stallion series
- R F Laird 1970 - author, The Boomer Bible
- Joe L. Brown 1937 - general manager, Pittsburgh Pirates
- Dick Cass 1964 - president, Baltimore Ravens (National Football League)
- Gabriel Hammond 1997 - founder of SteelPath Advisors/Alerian
- Jim Irsay 1978 - owner, Indianapolis Colts
- H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest 1949 - founder of Suburban Cable (sold to Comcast in 2000) and member of the Forbes 400
- Nicholas Taubman 1953 - CEO of Advance Auto Parts
- Dean Taylor 1969 - baseball executive/general manager, Milwaukee Brewers
- Steven Zhang 2011 - chairman, Inter Milan football club
Government and Politics
- Stewart H. Appleby 1909 - United States Representative from New Jersey's 3rd congressional district
- John Coolidge 1924 and Calvin Coolidge II 1925 - sons of President Calvin Coolidge
- León Febres Cordero 1949 - president of Ecuador
- Harry Hughes 1944 - 57th Governor of Maryland
- Charles Alvin Jones 1905 - Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
- John E. Jones III 1973 - Judge of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania who decided the Dover Intelligent Design Case
- James N. Robertson 1931 - Pennsylvania State Representative for Delaware County (1949-1952), Brigadier general in the Pennsylvania National Guard
- Nicholas Taubman 1953 - United States Ambassador to Romania
- Dick Thornburgh 1950 - 41st Governor of Pennsylvania and United States Attorney General
- Rebecca Lowe 1999 - TV sportscaster, NBC (formerly with ESPN UK, the BBC, and Setanta Sports)
- Peggy Northrop 1972 - former editor-in-chief, Reader's Digest and Sunset magazine
- Vanessa Branch 1990 - actress, Pirates of the Caribbean, Orbit Gum commercials; was Miss Vermont 1994
- Michael Davies 1985 - executive producer, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, Wife Swap, Power of 10, Men in Blazers
- William Davies 1979 - screenwriter, Flushed Away, Twins, Grumpy Old Men
- Benicio del Toro 1985 - actor, Traffic (2000), The Usual Suspects, 21 Grams, Che
- Sean Kanan 1985 - actor, The Karate Kid Part III, General Hospital, The Bold and the Beautiful
- Emily Maynard 2004 - winner of The Bachelor (Season 15), star of The Bachelorette (season 8)
- Ben Mendelsohn 1986 - actor, Bloodline, The Dark Knight Rises, Mississippi Grind
- John Payne 1932 - actor, Miracle on 34th Street
- James Stewart 1928 - actor, The Philadelphia Story, It's a Wonderful Life, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
- Christian Binford 2011 - pitcher, Baltimore Orioles organization
- Joe Birmingham 1904 - Major League Baseball player; first manager of the Cleveland Indians
- Bob Books 1922 - American football player, Frankford Yellow Jackets (NFL)
- Josh Edgin 2006 - pitcher, Baltimore Orioles
- Bump Hadley 1924 - major-league pitcher and Boston Red Sox television broadcaster
- Roy Lechthaler 1927 - American football player, Philadelphia Eagles
- Stéphane Pelle 1999 - Cameroonian professional basketball player
- Vincent Rey 2006 - linebacker, Cincinnati Bengals
- Mark Talbott 1978 - inducted into the United States Squash Hall of Fame in 2000
- Jack Taylor 2010 - holds NCAA basketball single-game scoring record (138 points)
In the summer months, Mercersburg offers a number of camps and programs that are about enrichment, encouraging personal growth, and fun. Each summer, participants ages 7–17 take part in an array of programs, ranging from the Adventure Camp series to various academic, arts, and sports camps. Some of the offerings include Young Writers Camp, Performing Arts Intensive, STEAM Camp, and clinics in the sports of swimming, basketball, soccer, and more.
Additionally, Mercersburg offers ESL+, an immersive five-week program for international students to polish their English fluency and experience American culture in a residential setting. Participants live in dormitories and take frequent trips throughout the Mid-Atlantic in addition to classroom time and social experiences.
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