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

Exchange/International Programs

Country Day School of the Sacred Heart
Girls-only day, preK-12; tuition $14,400. 480 Bryn Mawr Avenue, Bryn Mawr, 610-527-3915,

Bryn Mawr’s Sacred Heart may be a close-knit community — there are fewer than 400 girls total in grades pre-K through 12 — but students have a national campus at their fingertips through an internal exchange program with 20 other Sacred Heart schools around the country. If your teen wants to study marine biology, off she goes for a six-week term on the beaches of Miami. If her heart is set on politicking, the D.C.-area program will put her front and center for all things political. While away, students live with host families or, if possible, relatives. Thanks to this national network of schools, Sacred Heart also offers a leadership conference in Texas, community service projects in Chicago, and, among many other coast-to-coast opportunities, the chance for citified gals to spend a week on a Sacred Heart farm in upstate New York. “This world really isn’t that big,” says Laurie Nowlan, director of admissions. “We’re closely connected. It’s very enriching.” — Jenna Bergen

Kimberton Waldorf School. Your travel-hungry 10th-grader can be swapped with a student from another Waldorf school around the globe — think Spain, France or New Zealand — for two to six months. A bonus: Almost all students return fluent. Co-ed day, pre-K-12; tuition $17,530. 410 West Seven Stars Road, Phoenixville, 610-933-3635,

The Hill School.
Through a partnership with School Year Abroad, students here have the opportunity to spend an entire year immersed in another country’s native tongue, whether it’s the romance languages of Europe or the Mandarin dialect in China. Co-ed day and boarding, grades 9-12; day tuition $29,000, boarding $42,000. 717 East High Street, Pottstown, 610-326-1000,

The Hun School of Princeton. Let your child reap the benefits of exchange without the long plane ride. Each year, the Arthur Rozas International Student Program brings about 40 students — a significant portion of Hun’s boarding population — to the school’s classrooms. Co-ed day and boarding, grades 6-12; day tuition $28,390, boarding $41,265. 176 Edgerstoune Road, Princeton, 609-921-7600,

Wilmington Friends School. Students at Friends, the other area partner of School Year Abroad, can live and study for a year in China, France, India, Italy or Spain. Co-ed day, preK-12; tuition $19,775. 101 School Road, Wilmington, 302-576-2900,

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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