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From daily customs to annual events, Mercersburg’s traditions bring spirit and warmth to our lives and connect the school’s past with its present and future.


Mercersburg kicks off the school year with our faculty–in full academic regalia–and our students in the Irvine Memorial Chapel. A student from each class has the honor of processing with their class flag, and the service typically includes a special speaker, the presentation of awards, and the singing of the alma mater.

Seniors covered in paint as part of a tradition called Paint the Numbers at Mercersburg Academy.

Paint the Numbers

Under the cover of darkness, the senior class kicks off Spirit Week by putting their own unique stamp on the driveway near the main entrance to campus. Large amounts of blue and white paint are involved as they add their initials to the “numbers” (their class year), which makes for messy fun!

Mercersburg students dining family-style.

Family-style Meals

Mercersburg is known for our close-knit community, and that’s due in part to family-style dining. Every weekday for lunch and for some dinners, students and faculty head to the dining hall for a meal that’s served at the tables instead of in a buffet line. Students’ table assignments rotate every few weeks, which ensures that they meet a number of peers over the course of the school year.


Fellow students clapping during a spontaneous birthday celebration.

Birthday Clapping

If you’re lucky enough to celebrate your birthday on a weekday, you may be surprised with an enthusiastic acknowledgment at lunch! When this happens, students assemble in the middle of the dining hall and clap loudly as they march to their friend’s table, crowding around to sing (or yell) happy birthday.

Pretzel Pie

Pretzel Pie

Pretzel pie is one of the most popular desserts in our dining hall, and it’s sure to satisfy your sweet and salty cravings. The recipe is simple: a pretzel crust on the bottom, a layer of vanilla ice cream in the middle, and chocolate drizzle (with or without sprinkles) on top.

Mercersburg students singing Step Songs on the steps of Main Hall.

Step Songs

During Family and Alumni Weekend, students assemble on the steps in front of Main Hall to belt out a mix of school songs and cheers in advance of the next day’s athletic events.

A bonfire during Mercersburg's Family and Alumni Weekend.


After Step Songs, everyone walks to Tippetts Beach to light the biggest bonfire you will ever see!

Christmas Candlelight Service

Students help to “green the chapel” with garland, wreaths, poinsettias, and candles for this holiday event. The service features a candlelight processional, carols, and a message from the school minister.

Marshall students cheering.

Irving-Marshall Week

This spirited competition is our most beloved tradition. Every student is a member of either the Irving Literary Society or the Marshall Literary Society. At the end of the winter term, the two societies square off in volleyball, dodgeball, foosball, board games, and other contests. The winning society is announced at a school dance on the final night.

An Irving declaimer on stage.


As the most anticipated event of Irving-Marshall Week, Declamation features five students from each society who take the stage in front of the entire school and perform monologues they have memorized. The pieces range from funny to serious, and judges evaluate the declaimers based on their delivery and poise.

Seniors filled the lobby of Ford Hall with balloons as a prank.

Senior Prank

Every spring, the senior class plays a harmless prank on the rest of the student body. Recent escapades have targeted the dining hall, including filling the lobby with balloons and stacking tables and chairs inside the entrance to create a maze-like pattern for students, faculty, and staff to navigate.

Mercersburg Academy students playing Spike Ball.

Head’s Holiday

A rare surprise day off from classes announced by the head of school, typically during the spring term when the weather is especially nice.

Moving Up Ceremony

Moving Up Ceremony

As the spring term comes to a close, the entire school assembles in the chapel for a bittersweet moment where the seniors symbolically move out of their front-row pews into the side aisles, allowing the 11th-grade class to move forward. The 10th- and 9th-grade classes, respectively, also move into their new seating areas for the coming year, representing a passing of the baton.


Between Keil Hall and South Cottage is a grassy platform that has served as our graduation stage for decades. Many students observe the tradition of waiting to walk on this platform until their graduation day–doing so any earlier is considered bad luck!