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Girard at a Glance

In its mission statement, Girard College is described as a boarding school for academically capable students, grades 1 through 12, from families with limited financial resources, each headed by a single parent or guardian.

But it is much more than that.

Home and school to orphan boys from 1848 to 1984, home and school to boys and girls from 1984 to the present, Girard has nurtured the minds, bodies and spirits of at-risk children for 165 years.

The school's benefactor, Stephen Girard (1750-1831), left his generous estate to educate and care for needy children. As long as Girard College has existed, all its students have received full scholarships, benefitted from strong academic and extracurricular programs and lived safely on an enclosed, 43-acre campus in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Programs at Girard College have changed over its history to prepare students for success. Today Girard is a college prep school with virtually 100% of its graduates going on to college or university.

Girard has an unprecedented history of supporting those who are most in need of a quality educational experience, always mindful of our core values: respect, integrity, responsibility, compassion and self-discipline.

Quick Facts


Established: 1831 through the Will of Stephen Girard
Opened: 1848


Admission and Enrollment:

Grades 1-12
259 students
47% Boys, 53% Girls

Lower School (grades 1-6): 126
Upper School (grades 7-12): 133

78% of the students are from Philadelphia; 90% from the state of Pennsylvania

Girard welcomes applicants:

  • of all ethnic, racial, and religious backgrounds
  • who demonstrate good social skills and the potential and motivation to succeed academically
  • who come from a single-parent, lower-income family (including a custodial caretaker such as a grandparent or other relative or a foster family)
  • who are reviewed based upon school records, admissions testing, a visit to Girard, and an interview


Trimester system (fall, winter, and spring terms)
Highly trained/certified teachers apply the latest educational strategies in thought-provoking and engaging lessons.  Specialists provide classes in art, music, physical education, health, science, and research and technology. Computer instruction is integrated into all classes. French, Latin and Spanish are introduced in seventh grade. Remedial instruction and counseling are available for children who require extra support and guidance.

Recent academic initiatives include: Step up to STEM (building science, technology, engineering and math skills beginning in the elementary grades), Physics First (resequencing high school courses so that students study physics before chemistry and biology), and Summer Reach Camp (remediation and activities camp for select Girard students).


Some of our well-known Girard College alumni:

  • Painter Franz Josef Kline (1930)
  • Novelist Paul Evan Lehman (1910)
  • Actor Russell Johnson (1942) as “The Professor” on Gilligan’s Island
  • Artist Tracey Lee (1988)
  • Football Player Ashton Youboty (1995), cornerback for the Buffalo Bills


Fourteen upper school sports are offered for the boys and girls, including cross country, soccer, tennis, basketball, wrestling, baseball, softball, and track and field. There are eleven middle grade sports offered.

Class Size:

Lower School: 12-18
Upper School: 10-14

College Outcomes:

Virtually 100% of our seniors are accepted into colleges/universities. In the last 10 years, 89% of Girard graduates attended a four-year college; 7% attended a two-year institution and 2% attended a vocational or technical school. In recent years, Girard students have enrolled at Columbia University, Cornell University, Drexel University, George Washington University, Howard University, New York University, Pennsylvania State University, Stanford University, Temple University, University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, Villanova University and Yale University.

Extracurricular Programs:

As part of Girard’s Fit Campus program, both Upper and Lower School students can take advantage of enrichment classes, interest clubs or fitness activities daily after school.  Examples include: Food 101, American Cinema, Intro to Business, Snakes and Reptiles, Arts and Crafts, Intro to Spring Sports and Solar Car Building.


Lower School – 15 women, 8 men, 52% hold master’s degrees

Upper School – 21 women, 14 men, 60% hold advanced degrees.

Financial Aid:

Girard College proudly continues its 166-year-old commitment to full scholarship for all of its students every year.  In 2013-14, this amounted to approximately $15 million for 331 students and covered tuition, books, school uniforms and room and board. The scholarship renews itself each year until high school graduation if the student remains in good academic and behavioral standing.

Performing/Fine Arts:

Lower School offers General Music in grades 1-6, which includes an introduction to piano in third grade, band (grades 4-6, instruments provided), chorus (grades 3-6), private and group instrument instruction, seasonal concert series, songwriting and recording project (fifth and sixth grade alternating years) art studio, gallery space, and a spring art gallery for all grades.
Upper School offers general music (grades 9) chorus, band, select jazz/pop band, piano class, hand bell choir (student directed), dance instruction (MIRO dance theater), and a fully equipped art studio with annual studio art shows including CAD and Adobe Photoshop instruction. Vocal and instrumental music are offered at all levels.


Clarence D. Armbrister
B.A., University of Pennsylvania
J.D., University of Michigan Law School

Residential Living:

Students live in single-sex dormitories arranged by grade level. Residential advisors occupy apartments in the dorm buildings, creating a caring, familial atmosphere. Girard requires that all students participate in the five-day boarding program for the full benefit of our academic and residential curriculums. Students return home on weekends.



The Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools

Annual Budget:

$18.9 million

Girard Estate Assets:

$456.6 million


NAIS; The Association of Boarding Schools; the Coalition for Residential Education; ADVIS; The College Board; National Association of College Admission Counselors


Girard College is pleased to hold memberships in several key educational organizations:




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