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Posted 12/19/2014 11:41AM


The Junior Cavalier Choir will perform for "The Electrical Spectacle" on Franklin Square, on Sunday, December 28. It is a great honor and significant opportunity for our students.

Their performance will occur between 3:00 and 5:30 p.m.

The "The Electrical Spectacle" is part of the Franklin Square Holiday Festival that takes place from November 13 to December 31. The event is free and open to the public. Franklin Square is 200 North 6th St., Philadelphia PA 19102

There will be carousel rides, miniature golf, and food available for the kids as well as watching the incredible light show.

Support our young musicians, and enjoy a holiday outing!

Posted 12/03/2014 03:47PM


At the December Chapel, 16 Girard students were awarded medals for completing the bronze or silver level of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Program.

These students were praised for working long and hard in four areas:

  • community service
  • physical recreation
  • skills (practical, social, arts, language)
  • adventurous journey

Boys and girls ages 14-25 may participate, and each student spends about a year on each level (bronze, silver and gold). High school students often continue to progress into their college years. The program is designed to be individually driven and non-competitive, and it works very well with the Girard College Five Core Values.

In fact, the National Executive Director of the D of E's International Award USA, Josh Randle, agrees. Randle was the Chapel speaker and told the entire student body how similar these values really are.

"Respect, Responsibility, Integrity, Self-Discipline and Compassion: These are the things I learned in the Duke of Edinburgh Award Program," he said.

Prince Philip of England created the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Program in 1959 to assist young Englishmen to acquire skills, improve themselves and increase their self-confidence. Originally, the program was aimed at men who had lost educational, professional and personal growth experiences because they had served in the armed forces during WWII, but it quickly spread to other countries and attracted a wider variety of young men. In the 1970s, women were included as well.

In 2006, the "Dukes" program formally established the Young Americans Challenge, and, in 2009, the Queen's Jubilee Education Foundation (a fund of The Philadelphia Foundation) funded a pilot program at Girard College. Each year, more Girard students sign up for this program, continuously led by Leslie Kase, managing director of the Philadelphia program, and Keith Steininger, Girard's Afterschool Tutorial Coordinator.

Pictured above are the student recipients and their mentors. Far left are Keith Steininger, Josh Randle, and (back left) Andrew Swinney, the CEO of the Philadelphia Foundation. Far right is Girard President Clarence D. Armbrister.

Student Bronze Award winners are:

  • Chris B.
  • Jailyn B.
  • Danielle I.
  • Jaeshon M.
  • Omotara O.
  • Michaela R.
  • Diana S.
  • Cheyenne S.
  • Mariama T.
  • India W.
  • Paris W.

And two other medalist who were absent because of their college commitments:

  • Derek M.
  • Emanuel O.

The Silver medalists were:

  • Andre D.
  • Brandon D.
  • Christopher M.
  • Lashae S.
  • Meckell S.

And three other Silver Medalist who were absent because of their college commitments:

  • Aaliyah J.
  • Nafisah R.
  • Saniyyah R.


Posted 11/07/2014 12:45PM


On Friday, November 7, the Girard College Upper School (grades 7-12) welcomed a variety of U.S. military veterans to their classes. This educational program was designed as an in-depth and meaningful way to acknowledge the upcoming Veteran's Day holiday and to learn more about the people who serve and protect all Americans.

Throughout the morning, students learned about different branches of the military, combat and non-combat experiences, and the sacrifices and honor the veterans experience in service to one's country.

Each veteran told his or her own personal story covering periods of time from the 1960s to today. They also shared stories of their friends who served but who are no longer with us. The experiences of Girard alumnus Tom Baggio was shared with our students by Gil McDonald '59. Baggio served during the Viet Nam War. Veteran Brian McGrath shared the story of Travis Manion who died while saving others during the war in Afghanistan. All veterans shared one common theme: The blessings we now have as citizens of this great country were made possible by the many sacrifices of those who served.

"I loved interacting with the young adults at Girard," said MSgt. Sterling Randolph, photo above center. "In addition to telling them my story, I advised them to volunteer and to have a hobby. Your hobby may turn into a job that you love."

"I was glad to have a chance to say 'thank you' to some of the people who protect us," said Jamoni Harris ’16. "And I was so surprised at all of the career options within the military."

Among the visiting vets were Girard alumni and two current staff members, residential advisor Richard Perdomo and music teacher Maria Slowey-Johnson (photo above right).

"One thing I pointed out to the students was the fact that the military stresses a lot of the values we have at Girard," said Johnson, who served in the Army Band and had been an aerial photographer, "such as honesty and loyalty and the Five Core Values."

Girard College holds a program in appreciation of veterans every November.

CAPTION ABOVE: Back row, left to right Scott Hreso, Sterling Randolph, Tennyson Reid ’16; front row Sereinydes Duran ’20, Jamoni Harris ’16, Maria Slowey-Johnson.

CAPTIONS BELOW: Joe Garbarino '71 and Bill Clark '68 talk about a Girard alumnus who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Gregory Crafton '79 tells his own story.

Michael "Bish" Rieg '64 talks about his fund-raising for veterans Hero Walk.


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


October 29 PJAA tennis championship: Our girls finished 2nd in the entire league!

From student Michaela R.:

"With fire in our eyes and the Penn Jersey Championship in our heads, our varsity girls tennis team went to Wednesday's match with an open mind. Knowing what was at stake, our team members had their game faces on. In order to make it to round two, we had to win against Villa Victoria. Because we hadn't play them during the whole season and because we knew that they are a good team, we realized that it was going to be a fight.

Driven by the title of Penn Jersey Champions, our varsity girls tennis team had a clean sweep against Villa! With only a 15-minute break, we were all back on the court to play against Barrack. Although we didn't beat them last time we faced off against them, we still had hope and kept our head in the game. Each player tried her hardest, even if it was windy or raining. The outcome may not have been what we wanted, but we did come close and put our ALL into each game.

I can honestly say that every player left it all on the court and did an amazing job. On the bright side we can proudly say that we won SECOND PLACE in the Penn Jersey Championship.

I would like to give a special shout-out to all the seniors: Michaela, Michelle, Denahja and Genesis, you all did great this season and have improved from the first day of practice. To the rest of the team, you guys have so much potential, and I know that next year you will earn first place because you all have the skills and determination to do it. To Reggie and Coach, both of you have helped us and have made us better. So we all thank you and appreciate it. Reggie, good luck with your season this year, and coach, good luck with school.

The varsity girls tennis team started off shaky, and some may have even doubted us, but we ended on a high and showed people that when we step on the tennis court, we know what we are doing.



Kyri S.: Boys Soccer

Late-breaking news: Kyri S. has been named to the tri-county soccer All Star team. The game will be played on November 6th at Delaware Valley Friends School. More details to follow! 





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.

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