Where We Are
Center City Philadelphia School
Friends Select School is located at the center of Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the spine of Philadelphia’s Museum District. In fact, Friends Select was located at 16th and Cherry Streets before the Parkway even existed. FSS students have regular opportunities to experience the city’s famous landmarks that are within walking distance.
- Academy of Natural Science of Drexel University
- Arch Street Meetinghouse
- Atria Center City Senior Living
- Bartram's Garden
- City Hall
- Comcast Center
- Curtis Institute
- Drexel University Westphal College of Media Arts
- Eastern State Penitentiary
- Fairmount Park
- Fairmount Water Works
- The Franklin Institute
- Friends Center
- JFK Plaza
- Kimmel Center and Academy of Music
- Logan Square
- Mütter Museum at the College of Physicians
- Old City Philadelphia
- Penn Museum
- Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts
- Philadelphia Museum of Art
- Philadelphia Young Playwrights
- Race Street Meeting House
- Reading Terminal
- Sister Cities Plaza
- Suburban Station
- Thomas Jefferson University
- University of Pennsylvania
- Woodmere Art Museum
- Walnut Street Theatre
- Wharton Social Enterprise Unit
- World Café Live
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 Meeting House). The Arch Street Meeting House is a National Historical Landmark and the oldest Quaker meeting house in the U.S.
In Chinatown, FSS students experience East Asian culture first-hand. Each year, Middle and Upper School Mandarin students become teachers, helping Lower School students explore the history, culture, and language of China. Adding to the experience, FSS Chinese international students point out the authentic from the Americanized.
No one explains local government like the Mayor. And no one grills him like FSS students during excursions to City Hall. Lower School students learn to ask probing questions about city management, and Middle and Upper schoolers learn to voice their opinions while meeting with lawmakers. Students may also participate in political marches and rallies.
The Comcast Center, visible from the front steps of the school, is one of the tallest buildings in the Eastern United States. Middle and Upper School art, math, and science classes study architecture, public sculpture, and engineering and environmental aspects of the building. Pre-kindergarten and Kindergarten classes may visit the garden, view the sculptures and see the holiday show.
Students witness first-hand the effort and discipline demanded of a musician conducting a Mozart opera. Members of the pre-professional music programs at the Curtis Institute complete their academic work at Friends Select. In return, FSS music students benefit from the interaction with some of Philadelphia’s finest musicians.
Through community service, Middle and Upper schoolers help keep Fairmount Park beautiful. Students plant trees and lay trails, clean up fields and clear non-native plants. After school, FSS baseball and softball players compete on the athletic fields in Fairmount Park. The FSS crew team rows from Vesper Boat House on the banks of the Schuylkill River.
The Fairmount Water Works is the nation’s first municipal water treatment center. Middle and Upper School science students study water sources, water treatment, water distribution, wastewater, and stormwater at the Water Works Interpretive Center. Upper School students study at the newly opened Rivers Restoration Project: A Freshwater Mussel Hatchery.
Fifth graders at Friends Select have helped design exhibits at a world-class science museum. They have previewed upcoming exhibits at the Franklin Institute 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 experts.
The Friends Center is just a block away from the school. 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, and reuse, and the green vegetated roof.
Robert Indiana’s famous LOVE sculpture adorns JFK plaza, a half-acre park located cater-cornered to the school. Upper School students may take advantage of the gourmet food trucks that dot the park, Middle and Upper schoolers may sketch the Welcome Center, one of the best and most intact examples of flamboyant midcentury modern architecture in Center City Philadelphia.
Music, undeniably, is best learned in person. Any music teacher will say the same. Nothing compares to actual musical experience – whether you’re a novice at the piano or composing a symphony. Our students experience music in our music classrooms, and they participate in the vibrant Philadelphia music scene.
At the Kimmel Center and Academy of Music, Middle and Upper Schoolers attend opera and symphony performances. They experience live music and meet accomplished musicians. When our music students study symphonic orchestral music, they attend performances by the Philadelphia Orchestra. They hear pieces performed professionally, then take their experience back to the classroom and put their heart into their own musical pursuits.
America was born in Philadelphia. When studying U.S. history, Old City serves as the school’s classroom. Students walk the same streets our forefathers and foremothers trod. They visit the Liberty Bell. They stand in the room where the Declaration of Independence was authored. And students study much more than the founding of our nation. They may visit the African American Museum and that National Museum of American Jewish History, or the Philadelphia History Museum to gain local context.
When Friends Select students study ancient culture – Mesopotamia, Canaan, Egypt, India, Greece, and Rome – they study them amid ancient artifacts and modern exhibits at the world-class Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. At the Penn Museum, Middle and Upper School students conduct cultural research alongside Ivy League students. They visit special exhibits and learn from experts during on-site guided tours.
The birthplace of American art is a six-minute walk from the school. Friends Select faculty partner with PAFA to develop history and other academic courses based on outstanding collections housed at the museum, many of which are not public. Middle Schoolers participate in an after-school docent program at PAFA. They study exhibits and learn to interpret works of art. They also guide classmates, parents and friends through the museum experience.
By the time Friends Select ninth-graders deliver presentations at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, they have spent a year studying the style, history, medium, and artist for the piece they have chosen. They share their finding publicly at the Museum with parents, teachers, peers, and all museum guests.
Friends Select is under the care of care of two Quaker meetings – the Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting (Race Street Meeting House) and the Monthly Meeting of the Friends of Philadelphia (Arch Street Meeting House). On Wednesday, students gather at the historic Race Street Meeting House for Meeting for Worship. There, they sit together in silence; and anyone who is moved to speak – form kindergarteners to teachers – may rise and share.
At Woodmere Art Museum, students are more than guests; they are active participants. Like all the museum’s visitors, students study the history of art in Philadelphia. Through exhibits, events, and classes, they learn about Philadelphia’s rich art history. They also display student work and act as occasional curators.
Friends Select Upper School students helped create a new musical to be part of Walnut Street Theatre’s educational outreach tour in 2016-2017. Friends Select students brainstormed ideas, attended workshop performances and gave critical feedback to shape the final product. The premiere of #WhatsUrBox took place at Friends Select in September 2016.
Through Schoolyard Ventures and the Wharton School Enterprise Unit at University of Pennsylvania, Friends Select Upper School entrepreneurial students consulted with a non-profit social enterprise organization whose mission is to increase access to healthy snacks in West Philadelphia. Rebel Ventures adopted several recommendations by the students, including new strategies around pricing, distribution, and packaging.