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

Performing Arts

Girard College High School
Co-ed boarding, grades 9-12; free. Eligibility restricted to children who have lost one or both parents and demonstrate financial need. 2101 South College Avenue, 215-787-2617,

Girard students have the opportunity to work with two professional dance troupes in residence, the contemporary Miro Dance Theatre and Three Aksha, which performs classical Indian dance. Now in its third year at Girard, Miro — whose approach to dance informs the structure of Girard’s own student company — conducts open studio workshops in which students hone their skills and forge relationships with the pros. — C.B.

Chestnut Hill Academy and Springside School. Boys from Chestnut Hill and girls from Springside work together in a coordinated theater group, Players, to put on performances. The program starts freshman year and employs the same faculty and resources for both schools. Chestnut Hill: Boys-only day, preK-12; tuition $24,550. 500 West Willow Grove Avenue, Chestnut Hill, 215-247-4700, Springside: Girls-only day, preK-12; tuition $23,500. 8000 Cherokee Street, Chestnut Hill, 215-247-7200,

Sanford School. At Sanford, the kids control the airwaves, taking song requests, broadcasting talk shows and covering sporting events on a student-run radio station. Co-ed day, preK-12; tuition $20,500. 6900 Lancaster Pike, Hockessin, 302-239-5263,

The Haverford School. Haverford’s theater program consistently wins Cappie awards (the high-school equivalent of the Tonys) in the Best Play and Best Musical categories for its fall plays and musical productions. Boys-only day, preK-12; tuition $26,700. 450 Lancaster Avenue, Haverford, 610-642-3020,

Kimberton Waldorf School. Founded eight years ago, Kimberton’s circus program is an integrated part of phys ed for younger students and an elective in the upper school. All PE teachers are skilled in circus activities — unicycles, gymnastics, juggling — and students perform in an annual circus. Co-ed day; tuition $17,530. 410 West Seven Stars Road, Phoenixville, 610-933-3635,

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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