HERSHEY, Pa. (WHTM) – Since the beginning, Milton Hershey School’s goal has been to provide opportunities to as many kids as possible and with the school’s deed of trust they are able to do that.

On Wednesday, a ribbon cutting was held for the new Catherine Hershey School for Early Learning. This school is just one part of a $350 million initiative to bring 6 early childhood education centers to the Midstate.

For one family, the opportunity to send their son here is going to change their lives.

“We are very thankful for the opportunity and really can’t wait to see him excel at the Catherine Hershey School and the opportunity its given him,” said dad Richard Confair.  

Confair’s son, Arrow, is two years old. Arrow was born with a very rare heart defect.

For Arrow’s parents, leaving him with anybody and any school would be hard for them.

“I know they have on-site nursing staff here and he’ll be very close to the hospital, so I know he’ll be watched and cared for,” said mom Sarah Kirk.  

The President of Milton Hershey School and Catherine Hershey School for Early Learning was the one who made the call to Aero’s parents to tell them the good news.

“I called his mother to let her know that he would be the first child as part of Catherine Hershey Schools Hershey and she was overwhelmed, I was overwhelmed. I know that the families and children their lives will be changed forever,” said President Peter Gurt.  

And it already has, Sarah is getting the chance to go back to nursing school to finish her degree.

“This has opened up a huge door for me, I’ll be starting in January at HACC and I’m so excited its given us new hope,” said Sarah.  

Catherine Hershey Schools for Early Learning is an offshoot of the Milton Hershey School.

It’s designed to serve kids from 6 weeks old to 5 years old for free.

Their programs are centered around a play-based curriculum to enhance children’s social, emotional, and cognitive development.

“Just such an amazing building for them to just grow and learn and thrive in,” said Catherine Hershey Schools for Early Learning Executive Director, Senate Alexander.

There are 12 classrooms. Plus, an innovation center studio, active movement spaces, a STEM garden and a family success center where parents can be connected to tools and resources to support their children in the classroom and at home.

“So, families will also get the opportunity to set family goals…to start enhancing their lives so we help connect them with the resources to make their dreams come true to,” said Catherine Hershey Schools for Early Learning Center Director Melissa Ilski.

Officials say they’re aiming to have the 50,827-square-foot facility, located at 1050 Homestead Road, fully up and running sometime in October.

After that, the next Catherine Hershey School is scheduled to open in Harrisburg next year.

Followed by Middletown in 2025 and three locations in Lancaster County in 2026.

There are some qualifications including your income, proximity to the school and families that would benefit from the program.

The 150 spots at Catherine Hershey Schools for Early Learning are filled, but the school encourages families interested to sign up for future updates.