West Philadelphia High School

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West Philadelphia High School
4901 Chestnut St
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19137
United States
Type Public high school
Established 1912
School district The School District of Philadelphia
Principal Mary S. Dean
Grades 9–12
Enrollment 750
Color(s) Orange      and Blue     
Mascot Speedboys and Speedgirls
Yearbook The Flame
West Philadelphia High School Promise Academy
WTP A17 youcanlookitup 2.jpg
The "old" main building. The West facing facade of WPHS. Formerly the Boys entrance
West Philadelphia High School is located in Pennsylvania
West Philadelphia High School
Location 4901 Chestnut St.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Coordinates 39°57′16.21″N 75°13′1.38″W / 39.9545028°N 75.2170500°W / 39.9545028; -75.2170500Coordinates: 39°57′16.21″N 75°13′1.38″W / 39.9545028°N 75.2170500°W / 39.9545028; -75.2170500
Built 2011
Architect Kelly/ Maiello Architects
Governing body Local
MPS Philadelphia Public Schools (Promise Academy)
NRHP Reference # 86003345[1]
Added to NRHP December 4, 1986

West Philadelphia High School is a secondary school located in the West Philadelphia section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The school was completed on November 1, 1912. and occupied an entire city block between 47th and 48th streets, between Walnut Street and Locust Street. It was originally divided into a boys and girls school, but both were combined in the 30's to ease administration and streamline education.

Administration and staff[edit]

Principal: Mrs. Mary S. Dean
Assistant Principals: Ms.Taylor

West Philadelphia High School has over 150 full-time faculty and staff members, including teachers, teaching assistants, non-teaching assistants (NTA's) and maintenance and housekeeping staff. Because of the grand scale of facility, many of the staff and faculty are dived into "communities" that support subdivisions of the student body in various areas of the building.

School mission[edit]

The mission of West Philadelphia High School is to provide the students with a quality education to ensure that they graduate with the requisite knowledge, skills and personal philosophy to be effective citizens—well-prepared for their futures in the world of work, college or any other post-secondary education. The entire staff is committed to creating and maintaining a positive school climate, which engenders students' academic success and personal development.


West Philadelphia High School (WPHS), Philadelphia's first secondary school West of the Schuylkill, opened in 1912 with a student population in excess of 5,500. Such was the press on the new high school, which originally stood as two separate buildings for boys and girls, that the City was compelled to open Overbrook High School in 1926; a third high school, John Bartram, followed in 1935.

WPHS's athletic field, which is located at 48th and Spruce Street (one block south of the school building), was formally known as Passon Field and home to Negro League baseball in the 1930s. The park was the home field of the Eastern Colored League's Philadelphia Bacharach Giants starting in 1931, and the Negro National League's Philadelphia Stars in 1934 and 1935. In 1936 the Stars moved to Penmar Park at 44th and Parkside where they played the majority of their home games through their final season in 1952. The field is still in use by West Philadelphia High School's football and baseball teams.[2]

In September 2011 the school transitioned into becoming a Promise Academy, thus changing the name to West Philadelphia High School Promise Academy. The school also reopened in a brand new building located at 49th & Chestnut Streets. The Auto Academy still maintains its separate residence on Hanson St. and the "old" main building still sits unoccupied.

In June 2013 the school district allowed the Sustainability Workshop to take all of the space in the auto mechanic building, prompting community opposition.[3]

Small learning communities[edit]

  • AUTO: Automotive Academy
  • B&T: Business and Technology
  • UL: Urban Leadership
  • 9: Ninth Grade Success Academy
  • CAPA: Creative & Performing Arts

Sports programs & extra curricular activities[edit]

  • Senior Prom
  • Cheerleading Squad
  • Dance Club
  • Musicals
  • Choir
  • Volleyball
  • Baseball
  • Boys & Girls Basketball
  • Football
  • Track
  • Philadelphia Student Union
  • Hip Hop Club- Project P.E.A.C.E

Recent developments[edit]

West Philadelphia High School has been in the news recently for a number of inspiring activities. Most recently the West Philadelphia High School Electric Vehicle Team (WPEVP) has been receiving nationwide press over its hybrid race car. The team, developed as a partnership with the University of Pennsylvania, has been profiled in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Popular Mechanics, and the local ABC affiliate Channel Six's Action News, and countless websites and newsletters.

In addition, the school is slated to receive a new building to replace the 90 year old structure, one of the oldest school buildings under continuous use in the state, as part of a district-wide capital improvement plan. Despite the enthusiasm for a new home, the new construction is not without controversy. The school is currently in one of the most densely populated areas of Philadelphia. Finding a suitable location for the new building has proven to be a challenge. The district changed their minds several times prior to settling on a plot of land at the corner of 49th and Chestnut Streets. In 2009, they demolished the existing district-owned buildings at that location and in early 2010 they began the foundation of the new West Philadelphia High School.


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23. 
  2. ^ Healy, Paul (2003–2005). "Passon Field". Project Ballpark. Retrieved 2009-01-13. 
  3. ^ Denvir, Daniel. "West Philly High auto program takeover prompts sharp criticism." Philadelphia City Paper. Friday June 14, 2013. Retrieved on August 16, 2013.

External links[edit]