Friends Select School
In the City and of the City
Friends Select School is a pre-K to 12 Quaker school in the heart of Philadelphia. Friends Select’s campus on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway utilizes the city as a classroom, enhancing education through unparalleled access to local resources, including universities, science institutes, arts and cultural organizations, social service agencies, businesses, and government offices.
Such learning opportunities combine with a foundation of Quaker values, resulting in a world-class education in a world-class city that is deeply rooted in student advocacy and active citizenship.
Students in second and third grades study paleontology and freshwater ecosystems with renowned scientists twice a week for a third of the school year. In addition, lower, middle, and upper school classes use the Academy regularly to explore exhibitions and collections, take behind-the-scenes tours, and to bring speakers to Friends Select.
Friends Select is under the care of two Quaker meetings—the Monthly Meeting of the Friends of Philadelphia (Arch Street Meeting House) and the Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting (Race Street Meetinghouse). The Arch Street Meeting House is a National Historical Landmark and the largest Quaker Meetinghouse in the U.S.
Each year, lower school students adopt “grandparents” from Atria Center City, while upper school students visit twice a year for community service. By visiting with the elderly, even the youngest students learn valuable lessons about compassion, communication, and humanity.
At Bartram’s Garden, lower, middle, and upper school students pursue environmental studies and explore the natural world. They study botany and wildlife while recording field observations.
In Chinatown, students experience East Asian cultures first-hand. Each year, middle and upper school Mandarin students become teachers, helping lower school students explore the history, culture, and language of China.
Lower and middle school students have frequent opportunities to meet with the mayor and other lawmakers in order to learn about city government, while upper school students meet with the city commissioner to learn the voting process. Students may also participate in political marches and rallies.
At the Comcast Center, middle and upper school art, math, and science classes study architecture, public sculpture, engineering, and environmental aspects of the building. Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten classes may visit the garden, view the sculptures, and see the holiday show.
Our SummerSessions offerings include a course on entrepreneurship in partnership with Drexel University, in which upper school students explore parts of the city and meet people who are having a positive and profound impact upon local neighborhoods.
Upper school applied chemistry students visit Eastern State Penitentiary, a National Historic Landmark, to observe and learn about active restoration efforts.
Through community service, middle and upper school students plant trees and lay trails, clean up fields and clear non-native plants. After school, Friends Select baseball and softball teams play on Fairmount Park’s athletic fields, while the crew team rows from Vesper Boat House along the Schuylkill River.
Middle and upper school science students study water sources, treatment, distribution, wastewater, and stormwater at the Water Works Interpretive Center. Upper school students also kayak on the Schuylkill River past the oil refinery infrastructure, and collect water samples.
Fifth graders at Friends Select have helped design exhibits, previewed upcoming exhibits, and offered insights and feedback to curators. Lower school students study weather and middle school students study the brain. Students of all ages see exhibits and meet with museum experts.
Middle school ecology, biology, physics, engineering, and environmental science students access this LEEDS-certified green building to study and observe geothermal heating and cooling, smart technology systems, solar panels that generate electricity, stormwater capture, reuse, and the green vegetated roof.
At the Kimmel Center and Academy of Music, middle and upper school students attend opera and symphony performances. When Friends Select music students study symphonic orchestral music, they attend performances by the Philadelphia Orchestra.
At Logan Square, lower school students study botany, middle and upper school art students sketch the Swann Memorial Fountain, and upper school students enjoy the park during free periods.
The unusual exhibits at the Mütter Museum give upper school human biology students an unparalleled look at medical history. Students explore the beautifully preserved collections while learning about anatomy, disease, and forensics.
When studying U.S. history, Old City becomes the school’s classroom. Students visit the Liberty Bell and stand in the room where the Declaration of Independence was authored. They may visit the African American Museum, the National Museum of American Jewish History, or the Museum of the American Revolution to gain more context.
When lower, middle, and upper school students study ancient cultures—Mesopotamia, Canaan, Egypt, India, Greece, and Rome—they study them amid ancient artifacts and modern exhibits at the Penn Museum. They visit special exhibits and learn from experts during guided tours.
The birthplace of American art is a six-minute walk from school. Thanks to a partnership with PAFA, Friends Select faculty and students attend the museum for free and have numerous educational and professional development opportunities. Faculty develop history and other academic courses based on outstanding museum collections. Middle schoolers also participate in an after-school docent program, studying works of art and guiding classmates, parents, and friends through the museum.
Lower, middle, and upper school students visit the the Philadelphia Museum of Art regularly to study and interpret works of art. By the time ninth graders deliver presentations at the museum, they have spent a year studying the style, history, medium, and artist for the piece they have chosen. They share their findings at the museum with parents, teachers, peers, and all guests.
Friends Select students participate in the Philadelphia Young Playwrights annual playwriting festival. Select winners are invited to develop and share their plays with the public through in-school mini-festivals, staged readings, workshop presentations, and acclaimed professional productions.
Friends Select is under the care of care of two Quaker meetings—the Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting (Race Street Meetinghouse) and the Monthly Meeting of the Friends of Philadelphia (Arch Street Meeting House). Each week, students gather at the historic Race Street Meetinghouse for Meeting for Worship, and graduation is held there in June.
Fresh baked bread. Italian cannolis. Fresh fish, for sale, whole. Authentic Amish, Chinese, Thai, Greek, Italian, and Dutch cuisines. Reading Terminal gives students a taste of many different cultures. Then they head back to the classroom to analyze their experiences. Upper school students also have the ability to go to the Terminal during free periods.
Upper school students visit the Rodin Museum for photography lessons on light and shadow related to statues in the sculpture garden, and to learn about recent conservation and ongoing preservation efforts.
Upper school students visit displays on how chemistry has evolved from alchemy to the modern day, and for stories of major scientific discoveries.
Upper school anatomy and physiology students observe Jefferson medical students at work at Jefferson’s cadaver laboratory.
Friends Select partners with Penn and two independent high schools in Ireland to offer the International Summer Program in Biomedical Research at the University of Pennsylvania, a hands-on laboratory experience in Penn’s Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics (ITMAT).
The Walnut Street Theatre’s education department does a residency with Friends Select each winter, for the production of the middle school show. A professional teaching artist works with students, and the theater lends the school costumes, props, and set pieces.
Each year, the upper school choral group, percussion ensemble, and orchestra perform a special concert at World Café Live, a professional live music performance venue at University City in Philadelphia.