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

Liberal Arts/Classics

George School
Co-ed day and boarding, grades 9-12; day tuition $29,300, boarding $39,600. 1690 Newtown-Langhorne Road, Newtown, 215-579-6500,

One of only three boarding schools in the United States to offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, George School belongs to a global community of 645,000 students in 129 different countries. Why IB? According to head of school Nancy Starmer, it not only challenges students with an internationally recognized “comprehensive curriculum,” but also complements the school’s Quaker values. Every year since adopting IB in 1985, George School students have scored higher than the international average on the program’s assessments. That’s not easy: The full IB diploma requires mastery of six subject areas, a 4,000-word research paper, extracurricular activities and service, and a class in theory of knowledge. Students who don’t opt for the full diploma can still earn IB certificates or AP credit in individual courses. — B.S.

St. Joseph’s Preparatory School.
St. Joe’s Prep requires its boys at least to sample Latin, but for those itching for a more epic treatment, it offers both AP Vergil and Lyric, multiple levels of Greek, and a unique course combining classical archaeology and mythology. Boys-only day, grades 9-12; tuition $15,300. 1733 West Girard Avenue, 215-978-1950,

The Hill School. With a curriculum steeped in the Judeo-Christian tradition, Hill teaches directly from the canon — from Shakespeare and Dante to Plato in the original Greek. Co-ed day and boarding, grades 9-12; day tuition $29,000, boarding tuition $42,000. 717 East High Street, Pottstown, 610-326-1000,

Germantown Friends School. Every spring, GFS runs the “Essentially English” program, a series of electives that sound more like graduate-level seminars. Last year’s courses included “Bob Dylan, the ’60s, and American Cultural Change,” “Visions from the Apocalypse,” and “Melville’s Moby-Dick: Loomings and the Leviathan.” Co-ed day, preK-12; tuition $21,991 to $22,377. 31 West Coulter Street, Germantown, 215-951-2300,

Westtown School. At Westtown, they teach you to write. The English department holds an advanced writing seminar and spring electives, like last year’s “Reading and Writing The New Yorker,” that emphasize the power of the pen (or keyboard). Co-ed day and boarding, preK-12; day tuition $25,300, boarding $40,250. 975 Westtown Road, Westtown, 610-399-0123,