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Posted 05/26/2016 05:43PM


Noted academician and author, Marcus Anthony Hunter, Ph.D., will be the Commencement speaker at Girard College on Thursday, June 9 at 10:00 a.m.

An alumnus of Girard College class of 1999, Dr. Hunter received his Ph.D. in sociology in 2011 from Northwestern University and is currently a member of the faculty in the department of African-American Studies at UCLA. Previously, he was a member of the sociology faculty at Yale University where he received the prestigious Poorvu Family Fund Award for teaching excellence.

His first book, “Black Citymakers: How the Philadelphia Negro Changed Urban America,” revisits the Black Seventh Ward neighborhood immortalized in W.E.B. DuBois’s “The Philadelphia Negro,” to document a century of urban change. Rather than depict urban minorities as disadvantaged victims of urban policy, Dr. Hunter sees them as actively engaged in these policies and changes.

"We are all thrilled that Dr. Hunter will be speaking to our graduates," said Clarence D. Armbrister, President of Girard College. "We are committed to bringing talented alumni together with our current students in productive and educational settings."

Girard College is an independent, coeducational, college prep boarding school in North Philadelphia. Endowed in the will of Stephen Girard in 1831, Girard College has educated students in grades 1 to 12 since it opened in 1848. All students successfully enrolled at Girard receive full scholarships.

100 percent of the 35 seniors graduating from Girard College on June 9 have been accepted into a college or university.


PHOTO CAPTION above left, L to R: Girard President Clarence D. Armbrister, Hunter, and alumnus Omar Woodard '01 at a previous speaking event in Founder's Hall, Girard College, September 2015.


Posted 03/21/2016 02:13PM


Two organizations committed to increasing educational opportunities for students in need are teaming up this week in North Philadelphia.

A Better Chance and Girard College have formed a partnership that connects both mission and access for students. On Thursday, March 24, the regional offices and staff of A Better Chance will move from their current location at Drexel to the 43-acre campus of Girard College. The move will benefit both organizations.

“We are thrilled to find space on this beautiful campus,” said Keith Wilkerson, Senior Program Manager for A Better Chance, “and delighted to partner with Girard College as we place students in excellent independent schools in the area and around the country.”

Since 1963, A Better Chance has been placing talented young people of color into the leadership pipeline through increased access to academically rigorous secondary schools. The national nonprofit’s mission is to increase substantially the number of well-educated young people of color who are capable of assuming positions of responsibility and leadership in American society.

A Better Chance accomplishes this through its signature College Preparatory Schools Program (CPSP), which annually recruits and refers about 500 A Better Chance Scholars nationally who enroll in more than 300 of the country’s leading boarding, day and public schools. Each year the organization supports a total of 2000 A Better Chance Scholars at leading college preparatory schools across the country.

“The mission of Girard College is to prepare scholarship students for advanced education and life as informed, ethical and productive citizens,” said Henry Fairfax, Vice President of Enrollment Management and Institutional Advancement. “Partnering with another organization dedicated to increasing access to better education is a natural fit.”

While housed on the Girard College campus, A Better Chance will continue to work with various schools in the Greater Philadelphia area, placing students in schools that offer challenges and opportunities to their high-achieving candidates. In Philadelphia, Girard is among the top schools in offering admissions to A Better Chance candidates.

“Historically, Girard has provided outstanding educational opportunities for students with great need,” said Wilkerson. “Because Girard is designed for full-scholarship students, we hope to place multiple students every year. This is a huge benefit for us and for our applicants.”

In fact, Girard College has extended offers of acceptance to 17 A Better Chance candidates during this application season and welcomed six of them during a special reception for admitted students on March 2.

“Teaming up with A Better Chance is one more example of strategic plans we have set in motion to ensure a better future for Girard College and for its students,” said Clarence D. Armbrister, President. “I look forward to welcoming A Better Chance scholars into the Girard family this fall and far in the future.”

Read more in the Philadelphia Inquirer ...

Posted 03/04/2016 11:58AM


The north and south doors of Founder's Hall, Girard's most historic building, have been undergoing restoration since last summer. The project is a big one, both literally and in difficulty and importance.

Completed in 1847, Founder's Hall is a National Historic Landmark and considered the finest example of Greek revival architecture in the country. It was the first building completed for our unique school, and the doors are original to the building. Nearly 32 feet tall and 15 feet wide, the doors are made of soft, white pine. Restoring them required the skills of highly trained specialists.

Bruce Bekker, Director of Institutional Giving, and Elizabeth Laurent, Director of Historic Resources, nominated the Founder’s Hall Door Project for a Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia award.

We very recently received the news that this project has been awarded a 2016 Preservation Achievement Grand Jury Award. It “was selected because it stood out as an example of excellence in the field of historic preservation.”

This year's selection jury was comprised of nationally recognized preservation professionals based in New York City, carrying with it an extra distinction for our achievement.

The Founder's Hall project will be highlighted during an awards ceremony in June and publized via regional and social media networks.

The entire experience has been a great example of collaboration between the Board of Directors of City Trusts, Girard College staff, Founder’s Keepers of the GCAA, the Girard Estate, the Project Architect and the Project Contractor staff and subcontractors.

Lead and principal funding for this project was provided by the Girard College Alumni Association’s “Founder’s Keepers” initiative, which made a generous award of over $200,000 and extended considerable planning flexibility to enable this project. Girard College and the Girard Estate provided an additional $28,000 toward project costs, along with extensive staff support for project management.

CAPTION ABOVE: Majestic Founder's Hall, considered the finest example of Greek revival architecture in the country, and its enormous doors.

BELOW: Doors during renovation.


Posted 02/29/2016 11:20AM


A freshman at Girard College, Thelma D. has been enjoying huge success in indoor track.

In four winter meets, she has brought her 60m dash time from 7.75 to 7.37, making her the fastest in the state of Pennsylvania and #1 in the U.S. for all freshmen, female competitors!

Incidentally, she also competes in the 200-meter dash, and has brought that time from 25.68 to 24.77 seconds, earning her third-place status in the state.

Her coach is Girard alumnus Diamond Woolford '99. A winning sprinter and long jumper in his day at Girard College, Woolford volunteers as a coach for Thelma as part of his strong belief in giving back.

2016 STATS:

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 13 - Delco Indoor Championship, Haverford College; Thelma won first place in the 60-m dash (7.75 seconds), placing 18th in the U.S.

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 13 – PTFCA Indoor Track Carnival, Lehigh University; Thelma won the 60m dash (7.72 seconds) and placed second in the 200m dash (25.68 seconds)

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 27 – PA State Indoor Track Championships, Penn State University; Thelma won the 60m dash (7.47 second), placing her at #7 in the country; she also placed third in the 200m dash (24.77 seconds).

SATURDAY, MARCH 12 – New Balance National Competition, N.Y.
Thelma placed fourth in the 60-meter dash, with a time of 7.37 seconds. With that time, she is the sole owner of the USA All-Time Freshman Class record and is the Pennsylvania State record holder (overall) as well!


Posted 01/08/2016 03:18PM

Girard Students were Inducted into the National Honor Society

On Wednesday, January 6, six Girard College students were inducted into the National Honor Society at a special Chapel in their honor. Our proud and talented students are seniors JaiLyn B., Muqtadir I., Makayla L., Ismail R., India W. and sophomore Remiah H.

The National Honor Society (NHS) is the nation's premier organization established to recognize outstanding high school students. More than just an honor roll, NHS serves to recognize those students who have demonstrated excellence in the areas of scholarship, leadership, service and character. These characteristics have been associated with membership in the organization since its beginning in 1921.

The entire student body grades 1-12, staff and parents attended this Chapel to celebrate the academic accomplishments and superlative character of the inductees.

The NHS speaker was Kipp Bradford (left), an entrepreneur, technology consultant, and educator with a passion for making things. He is the founder or co-founder of start-ups in the fields of transportation, consumer products, HVAC, and medical devices, and holds numerous patents for his inventions. Read more about him here ...

Bradford talked to the students about his own ups and downs, the value of persistence, and the importance of character in all aspects of one's life.

The NHS ceremony and Chapel is held once each year in January. Members of the previous group of inductees who have not yet graduated from Girard College serve as hosts and participate in the event.

CAPTION, LEFT TO RIGHT: Clarence D. Armbrister, President of Girard College; Remiah H. inductee; Kipp Bradford, speaker; Tiyanna B. 2015 inductee; Omotara O., 2015 inductee; Makayla L., inductee; Ismail R., inductee; India W., inductee; Muqtadir I., inductee; JaiLyn B., inductee; Colleen Considine, NHS faculty advisor; Barbara Moses, Interim Academic Dean of Upper School; Kymelle Clark, Upper School Residential Dean.



Posted 10/13/2015 04:06PM


The Extended Day Program (EDP) was designed to expose Girard College students to project-based learning opportunities that foster the intellectual, social and physical development of the "whole student."

The Core Areas of Focus are:

  • Wellness
  • Advanced Learning and Academic Support
  • Community Service
  • STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics)
  • Performing Arts

The schedules have been organized by trimester following a pattern that combines:

  • Connections and Community Service
  • Curriculum and STEM
  • Personalization/Expression and Performing Arts
  • Wellness
  • Advanced Learning and Academic Support

The Extended Day Program offerings vary by grade level and core area focus, but the following represent the variety of experiences offered:

  • Community Service: SPCA
  • Community Service: Veterans Multi-Service Center
  • Community Service: Project Home
  • Community Service: GC Garden
  • Community Service: GETS/GCN
  • Swimming instruction and fitness
  • Girard College Big Brother/ Big Sister program
  • Yoga (photo above)
  • Fitness
  • Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts
  • Social Justice and The World Around Me
  • Intramurals (flag football, basketball and net sports)
  • Ethnic Drumming
  • Entrepreneurship classes
  • Life Skills classes
  • Cooking classes
  • Penn Research
  • Mock Trial
  • Dual enrollment classes at the Community College of Philadelphia
  • ACT/PSAT/SAT Prep and Study Skills classes

Recent successful activities are:

  • 1st /2nd graders were matched with their 7th/8th grade big brothers and big sisters
  • 3rd/4th graders wrote letters to local veterans currently residing at the Veteran Multi-Service Center
  • 5th/6th graders participated in the swimming and instruction program
  • 7th and 8th graders learned about entrepreneurship and bullying
  • Lower School students are learning to mediate using yoga
  • Upper and Lower School students cleaned out the Hoop House and have planted seeds in there
  • Upper and Lower School wrote letters to authors of books about hunger and homelessness
  • Upper School students volunteered at the Veterans Multi-Service Center, cleaning furniture that will be donated to local veterans
  • Upper School students were grouped into teams for the cooking program

If you would like to volunteer or get involved with the Girard College Extended Day Program, please reach out to Monet Thomas-Anderson, Extended Day Coordinator.

Posted 10/13/2015 03:22PM


As part of our ongoing commitment to support our students and enrich their educational experiences, Girard College has once again teamed up with The Center of Excellence for Diversity in Health Education and Research in The Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (UPENN) for test prep, study skills training and a research methodology program.


During the extended-day program (EDP) from 3:30-5:30 p.m., students in grades 9-12 have the chance to improve their test-taking skills through test preparation classes for ACT college entrance assessments and to improve their basic study skills.

Seniors will start an ACT prep course in October, and students in grades 9, 10 and 11 will begin their course in the spring. Both courses will be taught by Kaplan, one of the leading test-prep companies in the nation, and all costs are being covered by the University of Pennsylvania.


Additionally, UPENN’s Center of Excellence for Diversity in Health Education and Research in The Perelman School of Medicine is sponsoring a select few of our 9th-12th grade students to participate in a Health Educational Research Series where the students will learn how to begin to conduct health-related research.

The eight students selected will be mentored by medical school researchers, faculty and students and will learn the concepts required to begin formulating research methodologies on health disparities that impact our community in Philadelphia and across the nation. The program will culminate when our students present a one page concept paper on their proposed research. The students who were selected had to complete an application and an essay to be considered for participation. The group consists of four freshmen, two sophomores and two seniors.

For more information on the partnership, please visit this site.

Posted 06/03/2015 10:54AM

Seventh-Grade Students Wrestle with World Issues

On Thursday, May 21, all seventh-grade students participated in the Model United Nations program at Temple University.

Of the 40-plus Philadelphia-area schools that compete in Model UN, six were chosen to be part of "Global Smarts," and Girard was one of those six. Graduate students from St. Joseph’s University worked with our seventh graders for many weeks, helping them to research the assigned topics and write resolutions for the final event. The international issues were "water scarcity" and "child labor," and our students represented Mexico and South Africa.

On May 21, Girard students worked throughout the day in teams that included boys and girls from other schools. As resolutions were formed, Girard students had to vote, ask clarifying question, stand and support their positions with confidence in front of a large crowd.

"They did a spectaular job, and I'm very proud of each and every one of them," said faculty advisor Bill Gallagher.

Posted 05/19/2015 01:59PM


Hilary Beard – award-winning writer, editor and book collaborator, specializing in health and wellness, self-help, parenting, psychology, spirituality, life and career transitions – inspired 32 seniors and their families at the Upper School Commencement at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, June 11.

Beard is the co-author of eight books, including: "Mo'ne Davis: Remember My Name: My Life From First Pitch to Game Changer" and the 2015 NAACP Award-winning "Promises Kept: Raising Black Boys to Succeed in School and in Life."

Addressing the crowd, Beard shared her college and career story.

As an artistic girl who loved to write, Beard expected to study art and writing in college. Family and friends redirected her towards majors that were perceived as more practical and that would be more likely to result in steady employment. She heeded their advice, and followed a path that was better understood. But by age 27, she began to feel "stuck."

Beard told the students that some of the obstacles to her own success were internal. She was afraid to try something new. "Do not limit yourself to society's expectations of you or to your own internalized expectations," she advised. "Always have a plan B."

At about that same time, more opportunities opened up for black writers, and she took a "faith walk" towards these opportunities. Although less easily understood by her community, her new career grew and success followed.

"Build a good foundation of skills, and follow your own path," she said. "Stand up for your own dreams."

Beard had some very specific advice for the seniors - many of whom are the first in their families to attend college - about making the most out of their college years.

  • "Participate in every experience fully ... attend meetings, get to know your classmates, join organizations."
  • "Sit in the front one-third of the classroom, preferably in the center ... your physical position in class sends a message that you are here and you are serious."
  • "Start homework and readings immediately after receiving your syllabus ..."
  • "Ask lots of questions in class ... your classmates will view you as a leader."
  • "Schedule meeting with your professors ... develop a relationship with them because soon you will be asking them to write recommendations."
  • "Study in groups ... you will benefit from the group's knowledge."
  • "Practice the 'growth mindset' ... working harder makes you smarter."
  • "Be willing fail sometimes ... it means you have pushed yourself to the limits of your knowledge."
  • "Study abroad ... open your mind to another way of life."
  • "Have a tough skin ... sometimes you have to confront inaccurate assumptions, and other times you have to brush them off and keep moving."

In closing, Beard said, "You will be the leaders of our country, and you need to solve the country's problems. I look forward to living in a world where you run different aspects of our society."

A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Beard now lives in Philadelphia, where she enjoys yoga, swimming and preparing her pipes for her next life, when she hopes to come back as Cassandra Wilson, Liz Wright or Bonnie Raitt. She is active at her church, in her community and as a Princeton University alumna.

WATCH THE COMMENCEMENT VIDEO and heard Beard's speech (also speeches made by valedictorian, salutatorian and class president).

Posted 05/11/2015 05:03PM

Girard Senior Awarded Gates Scholarship

Girard College Senior Brandon Dixon received word that he has been awarded a Gates Millennium Scholarship.

Established in 1999, the Gates Millennium Scholarship (GMS) was designed to support American high school students who are African-American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian-American/Pacific Islander or Hispanic-American. Funded by the Bill and Melanie Gates Foundation, the GMS will fill any financial gap for these select recipients as they pursue their undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees. As undergraduates, they may pursue any field of study, but in the master's and doctoral programs, the scholarship recipients must study in one of these academic areas: Computer Science, Education, Engineering, Library Science, Mathematics, Public Health or Science.

This year, 57,000 high school students applied, and 1,000 were selected to receive the GMS. In the Greater Philadelphia Area, only 12 students were so honored. The selection process is based on achievement in the areas of academic success, community service and leadership skills.

Dixon enrolled in Girard College, a grade 1-12 school in North Philadelphia, as a fifth-grader.

"At my previous school, I competed for top academic honors with one other student," Dixon says. "When he went to Girard, I missed the competition, so I followed him here."

Dixon has an extraordinary record of activities during his eight years at Girard. He has been involved in Student Government since his first year at Girard, and he was elected Student Body President at the end of his sophomore year, serving while a Junior and Senior. He helped to structure the current Student Council and its emphasis on community service and student life issues. He has played badminton and tennis, and spent two years on the highly successful Mock Trial team. A Boy Scout for six years, Dixon is now one of the student leaders of the troop.

Academically, Dixon is one of the top students in the senior class and was inducted into the National Honor Society as a sophomore. He was accepted into all 11 of the colleges and universities to which he applied, and has chosen to attend Harvard in the fall. His longterm plans center on politics and eventually becoming President of the United States.

"I am very appreciative of the education and support I got at Girard College," says Dixon. "My college guidance counselor, my teachers, residential advisors and family have been behind me every step of the way."


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