Class Acts

Top-notch academics? That’s pretty much a given at Philly’s private high schools. It’s special programs — inside and outside the classroom — that make a certain place stand out as the perfect choice for your child. From advanced science and technology offerings to international exchange and in-depth community service, here’s an honor roll of schools that excel in eight major areas

Visual Arts

The Shipley School

Co-ed day, preK-12; tuition $26,500. 14 Yarrow Street, Bryn Mawr, 10-525-4300,

At Shipley, art is more than just a class — it’s a life skill. The program emphasizes what department head Chris Wagner calls “creative problem-solving,” which can be applied both inside and outside the classroom. (And her students have done just that, in some unexpected ways: One alumna, for example, now works with the FBI as an art theft expert.) Unlike many other art programs, Shipley’s boasts measurable results: Its students have been responsible for 69 percent of all of the 5’s in AP Studio Art among Pennsylvania non-public-school students over the past 20 years. The secret? A quartet of gifted upper school instructors, says Wagner, who guide students as they create the 29 pieces required for the AP portfolio. — B.S.

Country Day School of the Sacred Heart.
Students learn from the masters here. Taught in conjunction with art history, the program trains students in the methods of such artists as Vincent van Gogh and Louise Nevelson, developing appreciation for past talent while forming a strong base for personal creativity. Girls-only day, preK-12; tuition $14,400. 480 Bryn Mawr Avenue, Bryn Mawr, 610-527-3915,

Friends Select School. As if studying the Renaissance in Milan during a two-week exchange isn’t enough, students also develop original theses at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and present them during a class-guided tour. Co-ed day, preK-12; tuition $23,925. 17th Street and the Ben Franklin Parkway, 215-561-5900,

George School. At George, the arts receive the super-intensive International Baccalaureate treatment in every discipline, including two levels of video production and woodworking, and a course in alternative photographic processes ranging from antique methods to the most up-to-date digital technologies. Co-ed day and boarding, grades 9-12; day tuition $29,300, boarding tuition $39,600. 1690 Newtown-Langhorne Road, Newtown, 215-579-6500,

Westtown School. The Arts Center at Westtown stays open outside of class time so students can work not only on assignments, but also on independent projects, some of which end up next to professional work in the school’s exhibition gallery. Co-ed day and boarding, preK-12; day tuition $25,300, boarding tuition $40,250. 975 Westtown Road, Westtown, 610-399-0123,