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

Science & Technology

[sidebar]The Agnes Irwin School
Girls-only day, K-12; tuition $25,200.* Ithan Avenue and Conestoga Road, Rosemont, 610-525-8400, agnesirwin.org

The mix of intensive classes and extracurricular opportunities that comprises Agnes Irwin’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program promotes the sciences as viable career choices for women in the face of societal pressures telling girls otherwise, says science department chair Darin Katz. Students can pursue independent science research experiments in laboratories at the University of Pennsylvania, Villanova and Bryn Mawr; recent years have seen girls conducting projects in marine biology, analytical chemistry and molecular biology. Irwin also fields a robust robotics club that competes in Annapolis every year — it’s one of only a few all-girls teams that participate in that competition, and it consistently reaches the finals. — C.B.

Chestnut Hill Academy. Eco-science is hot, and Chestnut Hill is in the forefront with its soon-to-be-completed LEED-certified science facility, complete with solar panels and a wind turbine. Boys-only day, preK-12; tuition $24,550. 500 West Willow Grove Avenue, Chestnut Hill, 215-247-4700, chestnuthillacademy.org.

Holy Ghost Preparatory School. Holy Ghost Prep is a playground for robotics enthusiasts — the electronics course is taught by a Drexel professor, and the school’s TEAMS program, with around 50 participants, frequently wins county- and statewide electronics competitions. Boys-only day, grades 9-12; tuition $14,100. 2429 Bristol Pike, Bensalem, 215-639-2102, holyghostprep.org.

La Salle College High School. The advanced computer science training offered to students at La Salle has led to the school’s certification as a Microsoft IT Academy program — one of the only schools in Pennsylvania, private or public, to earn the distinction. Boys-only day, grades 9-12; tuition $14,600. 8605 Cheltenham Avenue, Wyndmoor, 215-233-2911, lschs.org.

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  • Debbie

    Mount St. Joseph Academy in Flourtown has been a top performing school for 150 years, how did you over look them on this list? They produce typically 9 National Merit finalist each year and have a tremendous community outreach program as well as athletic state champs in many sports programs. I feel that the intern who wrote this article perhaps didn't have quite enough education himself to report the facts correctly! Next time leave it to a seasoned professional to do the reporting of major articles that impact the community.

  • Jen

    The tuition at these schools, save Girard, is more than my college tuition was, and I finished my Bachelor's degree in 2007 (from a public college in NJ). My family could never have afforded to send me to these schools. The one school they could have afforded, Girard, would nat have accepted me because I have two parents, still married. Are kids from stable two parent families with modest incomes going to loose their edge in life because they don't have mountains of either cash or emotional hardship?

  • Michael

    I found the article "Class Acts" edited by Timothy Hass full of bias and elitism. As a former teacher in both public and private institutions, I would like to know why Mr. Haas advertised only the outstanding academic departments of private schools and ignored public schools. It is interesting to note that no mention was made of the relatively few elite students private school educate as opposed to the number of students in the fifty top public schools. Why was the measurement criteria "Bang for the Buck" only reserved for comparing public institutions? My guess is that after one pays private school tuitions of between $26.000.00 to $39,000.00 per year, you need to find a place to live that squeezes every cent out of the public school taxes so they remain low as possible. The follow up article by Tom McGrath makes some excellent points about how we need to prepare young people for the world of the 21st century. Mr. McGrath concludes his article stating that Bill Gates' "educational

  • Kathleen

    Philadelphia Magazine has consistently ignored Mount Saint Joseph Academy, despite the fact that it outperforms many of the other schools listed. The fact that Philadelphia Magazine bases it's private school ratings on "buzz" rather than objective criteria seriously decreases it's credibility in my eyes.

  • chris

    I love this school its a little pricey but its worth it