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Posted 06/03/2015 10:54AM

Seventh-Grade Students Wrestle with World Issues

On Thursday, May 21, all seventh-grade students participated in the Model United Nations program at Temple University.

Of the 40-plus Philadelphia-area schools that compete in Model UN, six were chosen to be part of "Global Smarts," and Girard was one of those six. Graduate students from St. Joseph’s University worked with our seventh graders for many weeks, helping them to research the assigned topics and write resolutions for the final event. The international issues were "water scarcity" and "child labor," and our students represented Mexico and South Africa.

On May 21, Girard students worked throughout the day in teams that included boys and girls from other schools. As resolutions were formed, Girard students had to vote, ask clarifying question, stand and support their positions with confidence in front of a large crowd.

"They did a spectaular job, and I'm very proud of each and every one of them," said faculty advisor Bill Gallagher.

Posted 05/19/2015 01:59PM


Hilary Beard – award-winning writer, editor and book collaborator, specializing in health and wellness, self-help, parenting, psychology, spirituality, life and career transitions – inspired 32 seniors and their families at the Upper School Commencement at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, June 11.

Beard is the co-author of eight books, including: "Mo'ne Davis: Remember My Name: My Life From First Pitch to Game Changer" and the 2015 NAACP Award-winning "Promises Kept: Raising Black Boys to Succeed in School and in Life."

Addressing the crowd, Beard shared her college and career story.

As an artistic girl who loved to write, Beard expected to study art and writing in college. Family and friends redirected her towards majors that were perceived as more practical and that would be more likely to result in steady employment. She heeded their advice, and followed a path that was better understood. But by age 27, she began to feel "stuck."

Beard told the students that some of the obstacles to her own success were internal. She was afraid to try something new. "Do not limit yourself to society's expectations of you or to your own internalized expectations," she advised. "Always have a plan B."

At about that same time, more opportunities opened up for black writers, and she took a "faith walk" towards these opportunities. Although less easily understood by her community, her new career grew and success followed.

"Build a good foundation of skills, and follow your own path," she said. "Stand up for your own dreams."

Beard had some very specific advice for the seniors - many of whom are the first in their families to attend college - about making the most out of their college years.

  • "Participate in every experience fully ... attend meetings, get to know your classmates, join organizations."
  • "Sit in the front one-third of the classroom, preferably in the center ... your physical position in class sends a message that you are here and you are serious."
  • "Start homework and readings immediately after receiving your syllabus ..."
  • "Ask lots of questions in class ... your classmates will view you as a leader."
  • "Schedule meeting with your professors ... develop a relationship with them because soon you will be asking them to write recommendations."
  • "Study in groups ... you will benefit from the group's knowledge."
  • "Practice the 'growth mindset' ... working harder makes you smarter."
  • "Be willing fail sometimes ... it means you have pushed yourself to the limits of your knowledge."
  • "Study abroad ... open your mind to another way of life."
  • "Have a tough skin ... sometimes you have to confront inaccurate assumptions, and other times you have to brush them off and keep moving."

In closing, Beard said, "You will be the leaders of our country, and you need to solve the country's problems. I look forward to living in a world where you run different aspects of our society."

A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Beard now lives in Philadelphia, where she enjoys yoga, swimming and preparing her pipes for her next life, when she hopes to come back as Cassandra Wilson, Liz Wright or Bonnie Raitt. She is active at her church, in her community and as a Princeton University alumna.

WATCH THE COMMENCEMENT VIDEO and heard Beard's speech (also speeches made by valedictorian, salutatorian and class president).

Posted 05/11/2015 05:03PM

Girard Senior Awarded Gates Scholarship

Girard College Senior Brandon Dixon received word that he has been awarded a Gates Millennium Scholarship.

Established in 1999, the Gates Millennium Scholarship (GMS) was designed to support American high school students who are African-American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian-American/Pacific Islander or Hispanic-American. Funded by the Bill and Melanie Gates Foundation, the GMS will fill any financial gap for these select recipients as they pursue their undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees. As undergraduates, they may pursue any field of study, but in the master's and doctoral programs, the scholarship recipients must study in one of these academic areas: Computer Science, Education, Engineering, Library Science, Mathematics, Public Health or Science.

This year, 57,000 high school students applied, and 1,000 were selected to receive the GMS. In the Greater Philadelphia Area, only 12 students were so honored. The selection process is based on achievement in the areas of academic success, community service and leadership skills.

Dixon enrolled in Girard College, a grade 1-12 school in North Philadelphia, as a fifth-grader.

"At my previous school, I competed for top academic honors with one other student," Dixon says. "When he went to Girard, I missed the competition, so I followed him here."

Dixon has an extraordinary record of activities during his eight years at Girard. He has been involved in Student Government since his first year at Girard, and he was elected Student Body President at the end of his sophomore year, serving while a Junior and Senior. He helped to structure the current Student Council and its emphasis on community service and student life issues. He has played badminton and tennis, and spent two years on the highly successful Mock Trial team. A Boy Scout for six years, Dixon is now one of the student leaders of the troop.

Academically, Dixon is one of the top students in the senior class and was inducted into the National Honor Society as a sophomore. He was accepted into all 11 of the colleges and universities to which he applied, and has chosen to attend Harvard in the fall. His longterm plans center on politics and eventually becoming President of the United States.

"I am very appreciative of the education and support I got at Girard College," says Dixon. "My college guidance counselor, my teachers, residential advisors and family have been behind me every step of the way."


Posted 03/19/2015 09:54AM



On Wednesday afternoon, March 18, approximately 80 Girard College Upper School students listened to a presentation by Elad Strohmayer, Deputy Consul General of Israel to the Mid-Atlantic Region.

Strohmayer’s visit came one day after the highly anticipated Knesset elections took place in Israel. His presentation served to educate the Girard students about the Israeli government and system of elections.

"In my World Cultures and Religions class, ninth graders have been learning about Israel and Judaism," said Girard social studies teacher Priscilla Kelly, who worked to arrange this event. "We were excited to have the opportunity to learn directly from an Israeli citizen and government official so soon after this historic election."

The students watched a PowerPoint presentation that explained the way Israeli citizens vote, the numerous parties representing myriad interest groups and religious factions, and the roles of the Prime Minister and President. They also learned that election day is a national holiday during which the government makes it easy for all citizens 18 and older to vote.

“Both Israel and the U.S. are committed to essential democratic values such as free and fair elections,” said Strohmayer. “I enjoyed meeting these students and improving their knowledge of Israel and sharing the importance of civic engagement.”

Students came away with a much better understanding of Israel's parliamentary system of government and its election process. Strohmayer made a point to encourage students to engage in the political process here in Philadelphia and to vote when they reach voting age.

The visit is a result of joint collaborations with the Consulate, Girard President Clarence Armbrister, Kelly and Todd Bernstein, CEO of Global Citizen.

Click here for CBS coverage.

CAPTIONS: Top: Ninth graders from Girard College pose with Strohmayer after the presentation.
Bottom left: Strohmayer shows a PowerPoint of the Israeli election system.
Bottom right: Strohmayer, student Remiah H. and teacher Priscilla Kelly.


Posted 01/12/2015 03:51PM

Students Finished as One of Top Teams in City Tournament


Last week, Mock Trial team 2 was eliminated from competition by a very few points. We applaud the effort of everyone involved!

In the words of social studies teacher and Mock Trial faculty advisor Bill Gallagher, "I just hope that all of you know how honored we are at Girard College to have Mock Trial students and coaches as gifted and as talented as you to represent our great school. More importantly, the way that all of you conducted yourselves as we encountered many challenging situations was a perfect example of your high level of sportsmanship, and that is certainly emphasized in this competition. We did win the morning round, but we did not get the final decision we were hoping to receive in the afternoon.


"The Girard Community is so proud of you! Thank you."

Team 2 members are: Aaron C., Danielle I., Omotara O., Jailyn B., Sabriya U., Muqtadir I., Tiffany B. and Satara P.

Posted 01/09/2015 10:49AM

Five Girard College Students were Inducted into National Honor Society

At a special Chapel on Wednesday, January 7, five students were inducted into the Girard College chapter of the National Honor Society. The students were honored in front of an audience consisting of the entire student body, family, friends and staff. Left to right, they are Omotara O., LaShae G.-S., Cheyenne S., Tiyanna B. and Danielle I.

Guest speaker Donald Generals, the sixth President of Community College of Philadelphia, encouraged the new inductees to "share the lessons you have learned on your journey to greatness." Generals referred to Girard's Five Core Values as traits that will serve them well today and in the future.

Students inducted last year welcomed each new member individually, and each of the five students lit a candle as a symbol of their induction.

The National Honor Society (NHS) is the nation's premier organization established to recognize outstanding high school students. Since 1921, NHS has served to honor those students who have demonstrated excellence in the areas of scholarship, leadership, service and character.

NHS chapters are found in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, many U.S. territories, and Canada. Chapter membership not only recognizes students for their accomplishments, but challenges them to develop further through active involvement in school activities and community service.

Posted 12/19/2014 02:05PM


5,000 Volunteer at Girard College as Signature Site

PHILADELPHIA, PA. – A national record 135,000 people of all ages and backgrounds throughout the Philadelphia region volunteered Monday, January 19, in approximately 1,800 service projects in the 20th annual Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service, according to Todd Bernstein, president of Global Citizen and founder and director of the Greater Philadelphia King Day of Service.

The 2015 Greater Philadelphia King Day of Service is again the largest King Day event in the nation and covers Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Almost 1,000 individuals participated in the first year in 1996; more than 1.2 million volunteers have participated over the past twenty years.

The national King Day of Service was created in 1994 through federal legislation co-authored by former Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Harris Wofford and Atlanta Congressman John Lewis, both veterans of the Civil Rights movement.

For the sixth consecutive year, Girard College served as the area’s signature site for 150 projects and 5,000 volunteers. Girard’s selection as the signature site coincides this year with the 50th anniversary of Dr. King's visit to the school where he addressed 3,000 protesters demonstrating outside the gates, calling for an end to its then-discriminatory admission policy.

“The Girard College community proudly welcomes thousands of MLK Day volunteers to our campus,” said school president Clarence D. Armbrister. "Established in the will of Stephen Girard, a man who has been described as 'The Father of Philanthropy,' Girard College has brought educational opportunity to generations of young people since its opening in 1848. We have truly epitomized community service for 167 years, and for that reason, we believe it is more than appropriate for our organization to partner with Global Citizen 365 for the MLK Day of Service year after year.

“And this year particularly, we note another point of significance and of connection. 2015 is the 50th anniversary of two momentous events: one is the passing of the Voting Rights Act, the primary theme for this year’s MLK Day of Service. You will hear and see much more about voting as the program continues.

"2015 is also the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s visit to Girard College.

"In August of 1965, Dr. King spoke to Civil Rights demonstrators who were protesting right outside of our gates. Addressing a crowd of 3,000 people, he brought national attention to the issue of equal opportunities in general and desegregation of Girard College in particular. It would be three more years before the first four boys of color enrolled at Girard, but we all recognize the power of his presence and his words on that day.

"Much has been accomplished in the last 50 years, but much more needs to be done. And I am honored that some of that work is occurring right here," said Armbrister.

The primary theme of this year’s Greater Philadelphia King Day of Service was celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA) outlawing racial discrimination in voting.

“We are celebrating the landmark law that fifty years ago reversed racial discrimination in voting,” said Bernstein. “However, since then some provisions of the Voting Rights Act have been reversed and continue to be challenged around the nation. As we mark this important anniversary, we must find more ways of encouraging voter participation.”

As the signature project at Girard College, encouragement of voter participation was led by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, U.S. Senator Bob Casey and other volunteers who worked on:

  • Making “Vote Here” signs in different languages, to be displayed each election day at polling places throughout Philadelphia where English may not be a voter’s first language;
  • Painting murals celebrating the 50th anniversary of the VRA;
  • and packing bags with voter information to be distributed later on King Day in a non-partisan voter registration outreach project in North Philadelphia.

Other projects celebrating the Voting Rights Act and voter empowerment included:

  • Training language interpreters to work at polling places on Election Day.
  • Training high school students and veterans to become poll workers on Election Day.
  • Holding workshops with female elected officials on empowering women to become candidates for elected office.
  • Publicizing "Why I Vote" video testimonials and social media campaign – #WhyIVote.
  • Demonstrating how to use real voting machines.
  • Directing a children’s art project constructing voting machines from cardboard, celebrating voting and the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act.
  • Directing a children’s project making buttons with slogans that inspire voting.
  • Using computers for voter registration.

The King Day of Service hosted its fourth annual Jobs and Opportunity Fair. Five hundred prospective employees met with twenty-four local employers and AmeriCorps national service programs in two sessions. The Jobs Fair included soft skills workshops, such as resume writing, interviewing skills, starting a small business and providing a path to employment for military veterans and ex-offenders.

The Cecil B. Moore Philadelphia Freedom Fighters, the group of men and women who demonstrated in the 1960s at Girard College, held a workshop to share their experiences.

The MLK365 Civic Engagement Expo provided information on the mission and work of more than forty local community organizations and opportunities to volunteer throughout the year.

Girard College Student Council members (photo left) collected warm clothes, personal hygiene products and food for "Homeless Backpacks."

McNeil Consumer Healthcare held a Health and Wellness Fair featuring an American Red Cross blood drive, CPR training, and thirty more organizations providing expert advice, testing, and screening in areas including cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, sickle cell anemia, HIV/AIDS, nutrition, eating disorders and fitness.

Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church presented a Kid’s Carnival for children ages of 5-12, which included reading stories about Dr. King, "I Have A Dream" mobile-making, a demonstration of voting machines used in real elections, skits on Dr. King and Civil Rights.

The King Day of Service mural painted by students from six area schools was on display. The Philadelphia Mural Arts Program led the annual project in which each school created a 5’ x 6’ canvas mural inspired by a 1957 speech given by Dr. King, “Give Us the Ballot.”

History Making Productions presented a poster, "Deep Roots/Continuing Legacy: Philadelphia in the Struggle for Civil Rights" that chronicles important anniversaries of memorable Civil Rights achievements.

History Making Productions also produced and debuted a short film on Dr. King’s one-day, whirlwind visit to Philadelphia in August 1965, when he led a protest rally outside the gates of Girard College.

The Philadelphia Orchestra performed its 25th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute Concert in Girard's Chapel as the concluding event at Girard College. This is the second year that the concert was held in our Chapel.

Many, many other projects managed by thousands of other volunteers occurred all over the Greater Philadelphia region.

"Dr. King said, 'Life's persistent and most urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others,’'" said Bernstein. "The selfless action of more than 135,000 citizen volunteers serving today and continuing throughout the year represents a resounding and affirmative answer to Dr. King’s question."

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.

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