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,

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,

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,

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,