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

Learning Differences

Delaware Valley Friends School
Co-ed day, grades 7-12; tuition $33,000. 19 East Central Avenue, Paoli, 610-640-4150,

Delaware Valley Friends School’s ABLE program, with courses structured on adventure-based learning experiences, takes students with ADD, ADHD, dyslexia and other learning differences outside the classroom. Whether through backpacking across Costa Rica’s remote highlands, cross-country skiing in the Adirondacks or a 185-mile bike tour along the Chesapeake, teens at DVFS build self-confidence, self-esteem and a sense of teamwork. “Students who have been the most challenged by the educational world end up being my best students,” says Ken Sinapius, a former Outward Bound instructor who now leads the program. “These kids are working extremely hard — harder than most — to get into college. This provides opportunity for great success that they haven’t had too much of in the classroom.” — J.B.

Academy in Manayunk. The area’s newest high school for learning differences — the program starts this year — works in conjunction with the pioneering Lab School of Washington. The focus is on individualized instruction, a hands-on approach to learning and immersion in the arts to raise self-esteem — and that GPA. Co-ed day, grades 1-9; tuition $26,500. 169 Conarroe Street, Manayunk, 215-483-2461,

Hill Top Preparatory School. Hill Top’s mission is to prepare bright students with learning differences for higher education — and thanks to rigorous academics and a well-guided mentoring program, almost 100 percent of students go on to college. Co-ed day grades 6-12; tuition $33,600. 737 South Ithan Avenue, Rosemont, 610-527-3230,

Phelps School. Each child at Phelps receives a custom-designed education program that lays a foundation of decision-making and time-management skills he’ll use well into college. Boys-only day and boarding, grades 7-12; day tuition $19,000, boarding $32,000. 583 Sugartown Road, Malvern, 610-644-1754,

Woodlynde School. Ninety-five percent of Woodlynde graduates pursue higher education, benefiting from the mix of small classes (most have a 5:1 student-teacher ratio), a college-prep program that emphasizes organizational skills, and a dedicated learning specialist for every grade. Co-ed day, K-12; tuition $25,500. 445 Upper Gulph Road, Strafford, 610-687-9660,