Philadelphia High School for Girls
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|Philadelphia High School for Girls|
|1400 West Olney Avenue
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
|Type||Public magnet school|
|Motto||Vincit Qui Se Vincit
(She who prevails over herself is twice victorious)
|School district||School District of Philadelphia|
|Principal||Dr. Parthenia Moore|
The Philadelphia High School for Girls, also known as Girls' High, is a public university-preparatory magnet high school for girls in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. As its name suggests, the school's enrollment is all female.
Established in 1848, it was one of the first public schools for women. It is a magnet school in the School District of Philadelphia with a competitive admissions process. Vincit qui se vincit (she conquers who conquers herself) is the school’s motto. The school is located at Broad Street and Olney Avenue in the Olney section of Philadelphia.
In 1848, The Girls Normal School was established as the first secondary public school for women in Pennsylvania. It was also the first municipally supported teachers' school in the U.S. The first instructional session was held on February 1, 1848. By June 1848, there were 149 enrolled students which was an incredibly large enrollment for a school at that time. The school continued to grow forcing a move in 1854 to Sergeant Street between Ninth and Tenth Streets.
In April 1854, the name of the school was changed to the Girls’ High School of Philadelphia. By June 1860, 65 graduates had received diplomas bearing the Girls’ High School name. In 1860, the name of the school was again changed to The Girls’ High and Normal School to better define the “design of the institution” as a school for an education confined to academic subjects and for future teachers.
In October 1876, a new school which “for convenience and comfort will probably have no superior” was constructed at Seventeenth and Spring Garden Streets. At the time it was surpassed in size only by Girard College and the University of Pennsylvania.
In 1893, the High School and Normal School were separated into two distinct institutions. It was at this time that the institution became known as the Philadelphia High School for Girls. The school offered three parallel courses: a general course of three years with a possible postgraduate year, a classical course of four years, and a business course of three years. In 1898, a Latin-Scientific Course “was designed to prepare students for the Women's Medical College, Cornell, Vassar, Wellesley, Smith, Barnard, or such courses in the University of Pennsylvania as were open to women.”
In the early 1930s, the school survived attempts to merge it with William Penn High School. Alumnae, faculty and friends of the school dedicated themselves to its preservation. The school emerged from this crisis with its current identity as a place for the education of academically talented young women.
In 1933, a new school was erected at Seventeenth and Spring Garden Streets to replace the one which had stood on the site since 1876. This historic building, now the site of Julia R. Masterman School, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.
In 1958, the school again outgrew its location and moved to its current site at Broad Street and Olney Avenue. Located down the street at Ogontz and Olney Avenue is Central High School, which, until the early 1990s, was an all-male school. Prior to Central turning co-educational, the two schools enjoyed a strong partnership.
Graduating classes at Girls' are known not by class year (e.g., "the class of 2009") but rather by class number (e.g., "the 253rd graduating class"). This is because of the former practice of semiannual graduation. As annual graduations were instituted, the practice of referring to class numbers remained.
Many fine traditions have survived Girls’ long history. Annual celebrations include Contest and County Fair. Graduation traditions also continue. Girls' High graduations were formerly held at the Academy of Music. Currently, they are held at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. Students wear white dresses no higher than knee length and carry red flowers. The students purchase their own dresses in any style but the rules of color and length are enforced. Due to budget cuts, Girls High will now be losing staff including counselors in the 2013-14 school year. Also, some clubs may be eliminated from the school.
In 2000, the school had its first Million Dollar Scholar. She received a perfect grade-point average and was offered $1 million in college scholarships.
Big Sister, Little Sister – Seniors are paired with incoming freshmen and act as their “big sisters”. The "big sisters" provide transitional support to their "little sisters".
Freshman Day, Sophomore Day, Junior Day – Each class is given a day to honor it. Students of the honored class generally sport flowers in their class color, host an auditorium show, and have a tea or other social gathering.
Senior Day – Graduating seniors are given awards for their academic and extracurricular achievements. After the awards ceremony they have lunch on the Spirit of Philadelphia.
Contest – Contest started in 1913 and has evolved over the years. The seniors and freshmen team up to compete against the sophomores and juniors in a variety of competitions that span a few weeks.
County Fair – A schoolwide all-afternoon fair in which each advisory class contributes food, games, and entertainment. All the money earned during county fair is given to a charity of choice by the winning advisory.
Songs of the Season – The school's holiday show. The program always begins with the procession of members of the school's Treble Clef Choir through a completely dark auditorium. Each choir member carries a single lit candle and chants "Hodie Christus Natus Est" by Benjamin Britten. The show continues with holiday performances by the school's various extracurricular groups and ethnic clubs. Jill Scott (a Girls' High Alumni) made an appearance at Songs Of The Season in 2006.
Career Day – Alumnae return for a day to give presentations about their careers.
Holiday Open House – Every year, alumnae return to the school for a Holiday Open House. This is held in the pink marble hall with the Nike of Samothrace or Winged Victory, which is the symbol of Girls' High, at one of the hallway and Abraham Lincoln at the other.
All Alumnae Reunion Luncheon/Meeting - Alumnae from all class years gather together to network with each other. The guest speaker is usually a distinguished Alumna. There is also a performance by a student group.
Additional school events
- Father-Daughter Dance
- Winter Dinner Formal
- Soph Hop
- Junior Prom
- Senior Prom
- Zero Day
- Junior Book Awards
- Move Up Day
The school song has two parts. Alma Mater was written by Grade Gordon (1906) and music by F. Edna Davis (1906). Fidelitas was written by Emily Loman in June 1915.
Beginning in 2011, students were required to wear school uniforms of black pants or below-the-knee skirt with a white blouse or white polo with school logo.
Erika Alexander - Actress
Gloria Allred - Attorney
Tanya "Rafika" Anderson - U.S. Diplomat, Consul General Barcelona (218, 1974)
Hon. Lisa Richette (Lisa Aversa Richette) - Judge, author, social activist
Deborah Batts - Federal Judge
Elaine Brown - First woman head of the Black Panther Party
Barbara Chase-Riboud - Author and artist
Shirley Clarke Franklin - First woman Mayor of Atlanta GA
Constance Clayton - First woman and first African American Superintendent of Schools in Philadelphia
Edith Grossman Ph.D. (Edith Dorph Grossman) - Renowned translator of Modern Latin American Literature
Tina DiFeliciantonio - Film Maker; Partner in Naked Eye Productions Ltd.
Buntzie Ellis Churchill - President, World Affairs Council
Leslie Esdaile Banks - Novelist
Sara Garonzik - Producing Director, Phila Theater Company
Margaret Gatter Payne - Lutheran Bishop
Patricia Giorgio Fox - Deputy Police Commissioner
Julie Gold - Grammy-winning songwriter, singer (218, 1974)
Pinkie Gordon Lane - First African American poet laureate of Louisiana
Ann Hobson Pilot - Principal harpist, Boston Symphony Orchestra
Linda Lieberman Dennery - Newspaper publisher
Tina Green Sloan - Athlete
Helene Hanff - Author, 84 Charing Cross Road
Rev. Barbara Harris - First female bishop in the Episcopal Church In America
Judith Harris - Attorney
Candice Anitra Manson Weinstock- Musician 
Ayana Mathis - author of The Twelve Tribes of Hattie
Dr Philomena (Innocenti) McAndrew - Oncologist
Janet Klein - Pennsylvania Historic Commission
Virginia Knauer - Presidential Economic Advisor
Hon. Dolores Sloviter (Dolores Korman Sloviter) - First woman named Chief Judge Of the US Court of Appeals, Third Circuit
Hon. Frederica Massiah-Jackson - President Court of Common Pleas Phila.
Khanya Mkhize- Actress 
Dr. Donna Mildvan - Doctor of infectious disease medicine who was one of first to recognize AIDS as a new disease
Bebe Moore Campbell - Author
Wanda Nesbitt - US Ambassador to Namibia. (218, 1974)
Vanessa Northington Gamble - Physician; authority on public health
Barbara Nissman - Important pianist in the grand Romantic tradition
Susan Orr Braudy - Author and Pulitzer nominee
Howardena Pindell - Artist, author
Sharon Pinkenson - Director, Philadelphia Film Office
Jessie Redmon Fauset - Harlem Renaissance novelist, Editor of "The Crisis"
Blondell Reynolds Brown - Philadelphia City Council Member
Margie Samoff - Director, Prince Theater (Philadelphia)
Jill Scott - Pop Artist
Ilene Plato - Restaurateur
Judith Rodin (Judith Seitz Rodin) - First woman President of the University of Pennsylvania, President of the Rockefeller Foundation
Marietta Simpson - Mezzo Soprano
Zoe Strauss - Photographer
Sandra Strokoff - First woman Legislative Counsel of the House of Representatives
Beth Stroud - Human Rights Activist/Methodist Church
Dr. Valarie Ena Swain-Cade McCoullum, Vice Provost, University of Pennsylvania; first female President, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania
Janet Theophano, Ph.D. - Professor of Folklore, Folklore & Education, Folklore & Aging
C. Delores Tucker - Civil Rights Activist
Evelyn Wiener, M.D. Executive Director, University of Pennsylvania Student Health Service and Noted Physician
Lisa Yuskavage - Artist
- "School Songs." Philadelphia High School for Girls.
- Girls High School website maintained by the School District of Philadelphia.
- Girls High School (Archive)
- Alumnae Association Alumnae Association of the Philadelphia High School for Girls.
- Great Schools' site with information about standardized test scores, college acceptance rates and other student information.
- Alumnae Information