Traditions and Celebrations
Founded in 1919, St. Joseph Hill Academy has traditions that are beloved by students and alumnae from decades passed as well as newer traditions and celebrations that leave the entire student body smiling. As a Hilltopper, these are some traditions and celebrations to look forward to.
This is a newer tradition created by the Hill Class of 2022. They decided to begin their Senior Orientation day early in the morning to watch the sunrise together on their first day of their last year at Hill. It's a tradition that Hill plans to continue each year. Breakfast always follows!
The incoming Freshmen gather for the first time as a class at Hill following registration but before 8th grade graduations. They have a social afternoon of events where they get to know each other and meet with representatives from Hill's robust student life- clubs, athletics, spirituality, service projects, trips, and more.
Our Freshmen begin their first half day at school with an orientation to prepare for them for the first full week of classes. They enjoy fun ice breakers to get to know each other, they meet faculty and administration, and they do a run through of their class schedule.
Senior and Freshmen Sisters
Hill reintroduced the tradition of matching members of the Senior class with members of the Freshmen class early in the school year so they can speak one-on-one in an initial meeting. The Seniors serve as older sisters and mentors to their Freshmen sister and are meant to be a resource for guidance and a friendly face to Freshmen just beginning their Hill journeys.
September Welcome-Back Event
Student Council organizes an annual welcome-back event every September for the entire student body. This year's new event was Hill's first ever Color Run. Students ran or walked around campus while multi-colored powder was thrown at them by faculty and Student Council members. They enjoyed pizza, music and an ice cream truck. Filled with laughter and joy, this event was a fantastic way to start the school year.
Freshmen Mother Daughter Tea
Freshmen students gather with their mothers or maternal family member for a Sunday tea and brunch on campus with faculty and staff. This tradition is a fun-filled bonding opportunity for the students and their moms. It's a lovely chance for the Hill community to come together on campus. This event typically takes place in the Fall.
Senior Tree Planting
The Senior class plants a tree each Fall on our beautiful hillside campus. No matter where Hilltoppers go, their roots are always here at Hill.
National Honor Society Induction
The National Honor Society (NHS) promotes scholarship, service, leadership and character throughout the Hill community. Juniors and Seniors with a 90% unweighted average or higher are inducted into Hill's chapter of the NHS each Fall. Candidates must also have 50 service hours per year to be considered for admission. This prestigious program acknowledges their hard work and dedication.
"Hill-o-ween" is one of the best seasons of the year. The Student Council hosts its annual Murder Mystery, during which groups of friends walk around the school interrogating teachers as they try to determine "the murderer." The 2021 theme was the Wild West and all teachers involved play a role. Students creatively dress for the theme every year as well. The students who guess the murder correctly win a free dress-down day. In recent years, to accommodate pandemic restrictions, teacher stations were outdoors. The event is always fun because students work together with their friends and get into the Halloween spirit.
"Hill-o-ween" continues with the annual Harvest Happening. This is a school-wide assembly full of creative skits and Halloween costumes!
The St. Joseph Hill Academy Drama Club returns to the stage each Fall with an exciting musical production. In November 2021, the Hill Drama Club performed Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. They breathed new life into this timeless fairytale filled with enchantment, elegance, and excitement.
Ms. Samantha Hermansen made her Hill debut this Fall 2021 as the Director and Choreographer of St. Joseph Hill Academy High School’s production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella. Before its closing, Ms. Hermansen was the Director and Choreographer of St. John Villa Academy’s “Aida” and “High School Musical'' alongside her talented friend and colleague, Mr. Robert Butler. Ms. Hermansen and Mr. Butler teamed up again this year at Hill with Mr. Butler as the show’s Musical Director.
To show some school spirit, Student Council organizes a fun week of themed dress down days. Recent themes include Pajama Day, Holiday Day, Country vs. Country Club, Twin Day, and Hill Wear Day!
Hilltoppers participate in the annual Staten Island Polar Plunge to raise money for the Special Olympics of New York. The 2021 event was a stunning success this year. On December 5th, Hill students battled the frigid waters of Midland Beach for this worthy cause. Over 50 Hill plungers raised more than $13,000 and were named Cool School Champions. This event raises thousands of dollars each year (in 2021 the event raised a whopping $90,000) to cover athletes' expenses, such as uniforms, travel, equipment and practice facilities for the Special Olympics. Hilltoppers were definitely Freezin' for a Reason!
A beloved Hill tradition, the Christmas Coffeehouse is a time when students, faculty, families, and some years even recent alumnae gather to celebrate the beginning of Christmas break. The event includes performances by the Hill Singers, caroling in Italian and Spanish, a dance team performance, basket raffles, a time-honored and always hilarious faculty skit, and of course caroling with the faculty. It's the perfect event to get everyone in the holiday spirit.
Junior Ring Ceremony
Every March, usually in conjunction with a St. Joseph's Day Mass, Hill Juniors receive their school rings and enjoy a breakfast together after the ceremony. Our school ring includes a carpenter's tool, sacred heart, and blue gemstone. The rings symbolize the bond Hilltoppers will always share and the connection to their school, classmates, teachers, and God.
Bowling with Teachers
The St. Joseph Hill Academy bowling team began a tradition of hosting Bowling with the Teachers night. Members of the bowling team faced faculty members and staff. Everyone shows off their skills during the matches and enjoys some pizza too.
100 Days Mass
Hill Seniors with the entire Hill High School student body and faculty annually mark 100 Days until Graduation with a Mass. Seniors will have breakfast together following the Mass. It's an opportunity for Seniors to come together with their school as they begin to face the end of their time as high school students at St. Joseph Hill Academy. As Father Jeff Pomeisl said at the Mass in March 2022, "God has a plan for each of you."
Hill has held 12 annual Service Days and is the only high school on Staten Island where the entire student body and faculty participate in volunteer opportunities throughout the community. In 2022, students were able to sign up at one of nearly 30 locations. It was an opportunity for Hilltoppers to give and interact with their community allowing them to see firsthand the impact their service has on others.
Green Fashion Show
The Green Fashion Show is an annual opportunity for students to design and model fashions made from 100% recycled materials, including paper bags, magazines, trash bags, and denim. It's a great creative outlet for students interested in fashion and sustainability.
Each May, a Hill Senior crowns Mary with flowers in a special school ceremony.
Easter Break Trip
Each Easter Break, juniors and seniors have the option to go on an international trip (previous trips have included Greece, Italy, Iceland, England, France, Australia, and more) with faculty and staff. It's a wonderful learning experience and bonding opportunity.
Travel has been hindered in recent years due to the pandemic but our Easter Trip abroad will take place in 2023 and students have voted for Greece as the destination.
You can see a video here on the most recent trip, Spring 2019, to Iceland below by Athina Sonitis '19.
Color Wars and Air Bands
Hill's field day, this much-loved Hill tradition began in 2009. Each year grade levels compete as teams in a series of games. They enjoy a BBQ lunch and an afternoon Airbands competition. Check out this video created by Hill Alumna Athina Sonitis '19 that captures the true spirit of this tradition.
Hill Singers perform a series of songs in a concert directed by Ms. Donna D'Ermilio each Spring. In 2022, the Spring Choral Concert featured music from Broadway and films including The Greatest Showman, Beautiful, Waitress, and a special tribute to Disney musicals.
Senior Trip to Disney
Coming back in 2023 for the first time since 2019! Seniors take a trip to Disney World after they wrap up classes and finals with some faculty to celebrate their accomplishments and have some fun together. Students bond with their entire class and feel the magic of Disney!
The entire student body gathers in assembly to honor the Senior class. Seniors are recognized with honors and awards including the annual Miss Hilltopper Award. Seniors wear t-shirts from the colleges they will attend.
Senior Night / Senior Sunset
Senior Night is an event at the end of the school year for Seniors to gather on campus, usually in the Social Hall and on the Social Hall Patio, to sign watch one final sunrise together, sign each other's yearbooks, reminisce about their four magical years at Hill, and plot plans for their futures.
Performing and Visual Arts Showcase
After graduation, Seniors enjoy a Prom Night at a venue in Staten Island, NY. There is a Senior Prom Committee that helps with all the planning.