Upper School Educational Journey

Upper School Educational Journey


In Friends Select’s upper school community, we take pride in seeing our students reach their fullest potential as they apply lifelong lessons from our Quaker educational program. 

This is evident within our academic departments, inside our classrooms, throughout our city, in extracurricular activities, and on student paths beyond our school.   


Preparing Students for the “Whole of Life”

Our upper school academic program leads our 9th- to 12th-grade students through a college-preparatory curriculum that is guided by our Quaker mission of developing both student intellect and spirit. As we prepare students for the “whole of life,” our teachers encourage creative and critical thinking through a lens of student discovery, reflection, and kindness. With this holistic approach to education, and in line with our belief that learning should be joyful and meaningful, our students graduate with the knowledge, curiosity, and skills to be insightful leaders and responsible stewards in their communities.

Within our departments of English, history, science, mathematics, world languages, the arts, experiential learning, physical education, and health, students experience a challenging yet supportive curriculum. Each student takes our required core classes and concurrently chooses from a variety of electives that reflect students’ passions. Elective classes range from semester offerings, to full-year advanced-level classes, to interdisciplinary options, to student-designed independent studies and explorations. Through communicating, problem-solving, writing, and analyzing, our 9th graders are introduced to fundamental principles and skills, and our 10th through 12th graders learn to further refine and apply those practices in more developed and sophisticated ways. Whatever the discipline, we have an experienced support team to help students who may need further guidance, and we provide additional courses and avenues for students who want to be pushed further in their pursuit of deeper scholarship.





Upper School

Upper School


Learning experiences that are “in the city and of the city.”

In each Friends Select classroom, both in our updated Parkway Building and new STEAM Building, our esteemed teachers create close-knit and warm classroom environments in which we build upon each student’s uniqueness. In such a setting, where students feel safe to take positive risks, our students listen and learn to appreciate each other’s viewpoints and practice self-expression. And while our classrooms hold most of our learning, the walls of our rooms weave into our neighborhood of Center City Philadelphia and beyond through countless partnerships. Whether history classes practice the art of public speaking at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, biology classes engage in biotechnology labs at the University of Pennsylvania, or English students write poetry about an exhibit at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Friends Select learning experience is enhanced by our ability and priority to be “in the city and of the city.” 


Empowering Students to Pursue Their Interests

Our academic program extends beyond class time as well. Student engagement in the robotics club, our student-led newspaper, The Falcon, Social Justice Week, service projects, senior internships, Quiz Bowl, and our sports teams reflect some of the ways our students choose to expand their breadth of knowledge and abilities. Social Justice Week, in particular, has become a fixture of the upper school’s educational program. This initiative, which is largely student-led and -organized, invites all upper school students to participate in the planning process, and creates an immersive program consisting of guest speakers, wellness activities, experiential learning and field trips, research, discussion, and community-focused action steps. 

Sometimes, it is during the moments that Friends Select alumni return to school that we fully appreciate our impact as educators. It is when our alumni meet with us and our students to discuss their continued motivation to learn deeply, or how they’ve found a career that speaks to their intellectual curiosity, or how they have dedicated their time to community stewardship. Hearing these accounts, we are reminded of the value of a Friends Select education—an education that creates impactful leaders who want to improve our society.  

Athletes & Artists & Activists


At Friends Select, our culture encourages students to explore multiple talents and try on different interests. Instead of an “either/or” mindset, we embrace the power of “both/and.” Our upper school students organize voter registration drives and play varsity basketball and learn the craft of woodworking. They play violin in the orchestra and win races with the crew team and collect donations for the Mitzvah Food Program. They pitch for the softball team and drum for the lab band, and run student government. This is how students come to understand the whole of who they are, what they love, and what they have to offer the world.


Where Next?