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Posted 10/08/2014 04:40PM


On Wednesday, October 8, American jazz musician Monnette Sudler held a clinic with Girard Upper and Lower School students.

Sudler is an American jazz musician, composer and poet. Her primary instrument is the guitar. In her over 30-year career she has performed and recorded with such jazz notables as Grover Washington Jr., Steve Turre, Reggie Workman, Cecil McBee and Hamiet Bluiett; among many others.

Her visit was sponsored by the American Composers Forum as part of their Henry Ossawa Tanner mural and multi-media collaborative which is taking place this month. For this project, called "If You Could Hear These Walls," selected composers wrote pieces of music reflecting the range of emotions as well as the story reflected in murals painted around the city. The compositions are performed live at the site of each mural.

After talking to the students about painter Tanner and his life and works, Sudler worked with them to play and sing an impromptu song about him. She also brought a few students forward to accompany her on piano, guitar and bass guitar.

Girard College is dedicated to promoting the arts for all of its students, grades 1 through 12. This clinic is one of many performances and workshops that will occur throughout the school year.

CAPTION: Jazz guitarist Monnette Sudler (center with guitar), Girard's Director of Music Performance Paul Eaton (far right) and students from the Upper and Lower Schools.

Posted 09/26/2014 01:46PM


Middle School Co-ed Soccer vs. Pennwood 10/6/14 Score: 4-1

Manager Victoria Kolawole reports: "Yesterday’s game against Pennwood was awesome! I was so happy to see that our team improved a lot compared to our last game. I would like to give a special shout out to Tamia Jones (8th grade) who scored our first goal, Sakai Smith (7th grade) who scored our other three goals, Malik Brown (8th grade) who showed great sportsmanship by taking a post-game selfie with the other team and everyone else on our team who put in a lot of effort. I’m so excited for our away game later today against Delaware County Christian!


(Unsung Heroes)

The student athlete of the week goes to the managers of the middle school soccer team and girls tennis team. 




Coach Corey reports: "The managers for the middle school co-ed soccer team continually demonstrate their importance to the success of the team. Day in and day out, Terry N., Haja T. and Victoria K. selflessly handle the 'behind the scenes' activities that come along with being great managers. Terry, Haja and Victoria do everything from supplying the team with water, to keeping stats during games and writing recaps. Win or lose, our managers always stay positive and are a strong source of encouragement for our team. We are very lucky to have Terry, Haja and Victoria and they are proving to be the unsung heroes of the middle school soccer team."

Coach Lenore reports: "Reggie M. has been a tremendous help and asset for the girls varsity tennis team. Reggie is a talented top tennis player on the boys varsity team and has great knowledge about the game. He has attended every practice, preparing the girls' equipment, running drills and playing matches against individual players. In addition Reggie has been present at every match, keeping the team hydrated, recording scores and, most importantly, encouraging and providing positive feedback, which has contributed toward the development and growth of our team."

SPORTS FANS: Download the schedule of athletic contests held this week. We'd love to see you there!

Posted 08/01/2014 03:46PM


Melvin V. Dorn, champion of social justice and friend to Girard College, died on Monday, July 21.

A living reminder of a pivotal time in our school’s history, Dorn played an active role in the desegregation of Girard College. As a member of the Philadelphia Freedom Fighters, Dorn participated in the Civil Rights protests in the 1960s, working closely with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Philadelphia NAACP (then-) President Cecil B. Moore. Dorn returned frequently to Girard’s campus to speak to current students who are the beneficiaries of his efforts and the efforts of other Civil Rights activists.

On September 11, 2013, the Girard community celebrated the 45th anniversary of the school’s desegregation at a special Chapel event. Many of the first African-American students who enrolled at Girard College in the late 1960s and early 1970s were in attendance, as were several of the Freedom Fighters, including Mel Dorn.

Dorn’s warm smile and energetic personality made him a favorite among Girard students. During the Chapel, he got up on stage with our elementary school choir and sang along with them. Later, at a reception in Founder’s Hall, Dorn spoke quietly to a smaller audience of high school students about his personal experiences during the Civil Rights Movement.

“I count myself lucky to have spent time with Mel Dorn,” said Girard President Clarence D. Armbrister. “He was a reminder to me and to all of our students that one person really can make the world a better place.”

Read Mel Dorn’s obituary from the Philadelphia Inquirer ...

Read Mel Dorn’s obituary from the Philadelphia Tribune ...


Posted 06/06/2014 11:50AM

The Girard College Junior Cavaliers choir sang as part of the dedication ceremony for the new memorial park on 22nd and Market Streets. Mayor Michael Nutter dedicated the park Thursday, June 5, on the site of the Salvation Army building that collapsed one year ago, killing six and injuring 14 people.

One member of the audience wrote to Girard administrators, "The songs sung at the park dedication were a real comfort to me. Please thank all the young people for making a difference.”

Girard College promotes a strong culture of community service and teaches the Five Core Values of Respect, Responsibility, Integrity, Self-Discipline and Compassion.

Choir director Paul Eaton said, "This was a wonderful opportunity for our students to gain performance experience off campus and for members of our greater community to enjoy their talent and joyful energy."


TOP: The Junior Cavaliers choir opened the memorial park dedication. BOTTOM: Mayor Nutter (center, back row) and choir director Paul Eaton (front) posed with members of the grade 4-6 choir.

Posted 03/24/2014 01:10PM


March 24, 2014

The Board of Directors of City Trusts announced that Clarence D. Armbrister, current president of Girard College, has accepted its offer to remain as head of the historic boarding school for an additional three years. Armbrister became Interim President in July 2012, succeeding Autumn Adkins Graves who stepped down after a three-year term.

Originally selected because of his qualifications as an experienced educational administrator, Armbrister was charged with leading the

Girard College community during one of the most difficult periods in its 166-year history.

It was during this time that the Board of Directors of City Trusts completed a comprehensive review of challenges that have affected Girard College in the wake of the global recession, resulting in a recommendation to the Orphan’s Court to temporarily modify the structure of the school while returning the Girard trust to full fiscal health. The court’s decision is pending.

“I have complete confidence in Clay Armbrister’s abilities to serve as president during a time that presents complex economic issues that affect every aspect of Girard College,” said Board President Ronald Donatucci. “I know he will face each challenge without losing sight of our commitment to our mission.”

Armbrister has also steered the school through a multi-year process that brought about the school’s re-accreditation by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools; he supervised a community celebration of the 45th anniversary of the desegregation of Girard College that included participation by several of Girard’s first students of color; and he is overseeing currently the enhancement of the school-wide curriculum and the adoption of the Common Core State Standards.

The former Chief Operating Officer at Temple University and Managing Director of the Philadelphia School District, Armbrister may be remembered most often as the former Chief of Staff (2008-2011) to Mayor Michael A. Nutter, where he led the daily operations of the administration and its 23,000 public employees.

“I am humbled by the confidence that the Board of Directors of City Trusts has shown in me by asking me to continue this most important work,” said Armbrister. “I look forward to working with Chairman Ron Donatucci; Bernard Smalley, Chair of the Girard College Committee; and the other members of the Board who have exhibited to me their strong interest in fulfilling Stephen Girard's directive that the school be available to provide a world-class education to children from families of limited means in perpetuity.”

A lawyer by training, Armbrister is the former Philadelphia City Treasurer (1994 to 1996) who also served as a partner in the Public Finance Department at the Saul Ewing law firm and as an investment banker at UBS, leaving that firm as a Director in 2004 prior to joining Temple University.

A native of Florida, Armbrister is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Michigan Law School. A Director and former President of the National Adoption Center and the father of five children, two of whom are currently attending college, Armbrister and his wife Denise, a former member of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission, live in the Overbrook Farms section of Philadelphia.

Founded by Stephen Girard, a pre-eminent early American patriot, businessman and philanthropist, Girard College is a private boarding school that provides free education, room and board for students in grades 1-12 from single parent families. Since 1848, more than 21,000 Girard students have received full scholarships and have lived and learned on its historic, 43-acre campus. Today, Girard is a college prep school with virtually 100 percent of its graduates going on to college or university.

Posted 03/19/2014 01:37PM


Both of Girard College's Mock Trial teams competed in the 2014 Philadelphia-Region Mock Trial league.

Over forty teams from the greater Philadelphia area began the season, and both of our teams progressed to the final eight. Girard team 1 lost to Girard team 2 in the first match of the quarterfinals, but Girard team 2 advanced to the finals where they faced Roman Catholic High School for the city-wide championship and the right to compete in the State Championship in Harrisburg. Girard Team 2 did an outstanding job but lost to RCHS. However, they brought home the title of #2 Mock Trial team in the city, and two of our students earned recognition as Best Advocate (Brandon D.) and Best Witness (Jamoni H.). It was a proud day!

It's hard to believe that Girard's first Mock Trial season was 2012.

That first team sprouted from the passion of a few volunteers who had been serving as mentors in 2010 and 2011 to Girard students who were interested in the law. Those mentors – attorneys Nolan Atkinson and Seth Goldberg – are still among the hard-working cadre of voluntary coaches who work with 13 students who make up the current Mock Trials teams. (Read more about year one and year two of the Mock Trial experience in the "Girard Today" newsletter spring 2013 issue.)

The progress and success of the Mock Trial program at Girard has been amazing!

Mock Trial 2012: Girard's first team competed in the Developmental Division, took first place, and then advanced to the "regular" league finals. In their first match, they faced the city's number one team and lost by one point.

Mock Trial 2013: Girard students formed two teams, one in the Developmental Division (Team 2) and one in the Competitive Division (Team 1). Team 1 advanced all the way to the finals, placing second in the city.

Mock Trial 2014: Again Girard fielded two teams, but both were in the Competitive Division this year. Although other schools had more than one team, Girard was the only school that brought both of their teams to the "final 8" playoffs. The first match was Girard vs. Girard, and team 2 won with an extremely close score. Team 2 advanced to the finals, made a tremendous effort, lost, but can still proudly claim to be #2 in the city!

Read the story of this competition from the Philadelphia Tribune.

On Wednesday, April 2, Girard College will honor all of the Mock Trial students, coaches and our super-duper faculty advisor Bill Gallagher at our monthly Chapel.


TOP, Team 1, L to R: Aaron C., coach Cindy Morgan, Montrell H. (background), Nadira B., Aaron Y., Derek M., Danielle I. and Adalberto A. Coach Ron Marrero ’94 is not pictured.

BOTTOM, Team 2, L to R, back row: Tiyanna B., Reggie M., Jamoni H. and Derek M. (time keeper); seated: Tami K., Brandon D. and Anya J. Coaches Nolan Atkinson, Seth Goldberg, Catherine Cramer and Ed Biester are not pictured.



Posted 02/21/2014 11:09AM

Richard Leek


On Sunday, February 16, the Girard College community lost one of its giants. Richard "Rick" Leek passed away at home with his wife, Cindy Miller Leek.

Rick taught social studies to Girard Middle and Upper School students since his arrival in 1988 and began to teach sixth grade in the fall of 2012. Additionally, he coached track and cross-country for most of his Girard career, so his influence on our students, staff and the institution was broad and deep.

"Mr. Leek was more than my high school government teacher, more than a track coach," said alumna Tanaya Lloyd '08, long jump and triple jump state champ in 2008. "He was the grand pop I've never had who always wanted what was best for me."

Rick Leek was a sports fanatic. He loved all sports and would watch just about any athletic competition on TV. In his younger days, he loved to play golf and had recently started to play again. As a coach, he amassed an excellent record and inspired his athletes to reach for the top. In 2012, the Girard College Alumni Association inducted him into their Sports Hall of Fame, the first teacher to be honored with that recognition.

"Girard was in his heart, and he was woven into the fabric that is Girard College," said Tony Schiavo '59. "I will miss him every time I look up at the balcony of the Armory or pass the track where so many of his athletes grew under his guidance and especially his care."

His passion for all things Girard was undeniable, and his impact on decades of students is clear.

"For so many, Mr. Leek fulfilled Stephen Girard's vision of being more than just a teacher," said Anwar Nasir '02. "To every person behind those walls, he was a father figure. He mentored, coached, disciplined, educated and encouraged all whom he encountered."

Students did not have to be on one of his successful teams to benefit from his life lessons. All of his students can attest to the familiar mantra posted in his classroom: "Don't Lie, Don't Cheat, Don't Steal."

"Rick had a profound effect on his colleagues as well as students," said Kevin Giorno, fifth-grade teacher. "He was my first real friend at Girard, and he became my mentor, a relationship I valued greatly."

"Rick was a man of integrity," said Cindy Leek. "We knew each other for years before we got married because he wanted to pay off his college loans before the wedding."

Talking about her husband of 23 years, Cindy remarked on Rick's personality, shaped in part by parents who taught him that challenges – such as his lifelong difficulty with cataracts – should not keep him from achieving his goals.

"He rose above his own struggles and grew into a positive, personable guy who knew how to read people and how to reach them in just the right way," she said. "If they needed a push, he gave it to them without hurting their feelings."

Cindy shared information about Rick that might not be obvious in class or on the track.

Rick had eclectic taste in music ("from opera to Jimmy Hendrix"), traveled extensively ("he loved Rome, Spain and Paris"), was an only child ("his family consists of very close friends who have been in his life since grade school, high school and college") and was well versed in many different religions.

"He was very spiritual," she said. "Rick loved getting to know the differences between people and then bringing them together to see their similarities."

He was also very generous. Numerous individuals recall sneakers or college text books that Rick paid for but would never take credit for.

Over the past several days, there have been hundreds of conversations – in hallways, on Facebook, in his home – about Rick and his role in the lives of so many, many people. The most common theme is how much he loved Girard College and his students.

"Rick always said Girard provided a great opportunity to influence lives for the better," Cindy said. "He'd say, 'There is no place like it.'"

And, in the same spirit, everyone in the Girard College family would reply, "There is no one like YOU, Mr. Leek."

Rest in Peace.



Philadelphia Mayor Nutter Named Leek one of 3 Best Teachers in the City, June 2012


2013 Boys Track Team, Penn-Jersey Champions

2013 K. Twyman - 2nd Place State Indoor Track Long Jump


6 District One Track and Field Titles

2 State Track and Field second place finishes

4 State Triple Jump Champions

2 Long Jump State Champions

1 4x400 meter relay State Champion team

Bicentennial Coach of the Year 2011

2012 Inductee to Girard College Athletic Hall of Fame


Steering Committee District One Track and Field

Executive Committee Pennsylvania Track and Field Coaches Association.

Games Committee District One Championships

Official Pennsylvania State Indoor Track and Field Association

Read the obituary in the Philly.com

FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS for Sunday, February 23

Contact the GCAA regarding donations to the Richard Leek Memorial Fund.

Posted 01/23/2014 04:13PM

Seven students were inducted into NHS

Seven students were inducted into the Girard College National Honor Society (NHS) chapter on Friday, January 17. They are seniors Xhonia R., Gabrielle C., Tommy E.; and juniors Jaesohn M., Charles B., Christopher M. and Meckell S. They join Brandon D. (grade 11); the only remaining NHS member in this chapter.

Speaker Mary Ellen McMonigle Ph.D. congratulated the students and gave the Upper School audience a quiz on "WHO IS YOUR HERO?" Following the Chapel, the students and their families returned to the president's residence for a reception.

NHS students are honored for character, scholarship, leadership, service and citizenship.

Congratulations to all!

Posted 12/20/2013 02:01PM


On Thursday, December 12, basketball phenom G’Mrice D. scored her 1,000th point in a game against Kohelet Yeshiva High School.

G'Mrice went into the home game with 987 high school career points, so friends, family and teammates were rooting for the big event to occur. When she scored her 1,000th point, the game was momentarily halted while coach and players rushed out to congratulate her.

The final score of this game was Girard 56 Kohelet Yeshiva 6. The team record to date is 3-3.

G'Mrice made news recently when she signed a letter of intent with Fordham University where she will play D-1 basketball next year. She was granted a full NCAA scholarship.

PICTURED: Above left: G'Mrice makes her 1,000th point basket. Above right: Proud mother Lisa Caple congratulated G'Mrice for scoring her 1,000th career point.

Posted 12/10/2013 09:45AM

Snow Day Means Fun and Beauty at Girard College

Although the 2012-13 winter season produced virtually no snow, this winter has already proven to be dramatically different. Today's snowstorm is the second in three days and has turned our campus into a winter wonderland.

Sunday's snowstorm kept our students from returning to school at the usual time, but today's snow was timed just right to cancel classes and turn the already beautiful buildings and grounds into a wet, white playground. Miss Woodie's sixth graders are among many boys and girls who are enjoying one of the joys of childhood: fun in the snow!


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