Central High School (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

Central High School (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

Infobox Secondary school
name = Central High School

type = Public secondary
grades = 9–12
established= 1836
city = Philadelphia
state = Pennsylvania
country = USA
enrollment =
mascot = Central Lancer
colors = Crimson and Gold color box|#DC143C color box|#FFD700
president = Sheldon S. Pavel, A.B., Ed.M, Ed.D.
principal =
endowment = $0.0 (million)
newspaper = The Centralizer
website = http://centralhigh.net

Central High School is a public secondary school in the Olney section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Central, the twentieth oldest public high school (It is the second oldest public high school if one does not consider in the previous list former private schools that are now public.) in the United States, was founded in 1836 and is a four-year university preparatory magnet school. About 2,400 students attend grades 9 through 12. It consistently ranks among the top schools in the city and state, and is among the top public schools in the nation for its academic standards. [http://www.tfaoi.com/aa/3aa/3aa248.htm Traditional Fine Arts Organization] ]

Central High School holds the distinction of being the only high school in the United States that has the authority, granted by an Act of Assembly in 1849, to confer academic degrees upon its graduates.Fact|date=July 2008 This practice is still in effect, and graduates who meet the requirements are granted the Bachelor of Arts degree. Central also confers high school diplomas upon graduates who do not meet the requirement for a degree.

Central, rather than using a general class year to identify its classes (as in "class of 2008"), uses the class graduating number system (as in "270th graduating class" or "270"). This tradition started shortly after the school's founding, when it was common to have two graduating classes per year - one in January and one in June. In June of 1965, semiannual graduations were replaced by annual graduations. The current senior class is the 268th graduating class of Central High School. [Edmonds, Franklin Spencer, " [http://books.google.com/books?id=wogWAAAAIAAJ History of the Central High School of Philadelphia] ". Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1902.]

Central, due to its authority to grant academic degrees, traditionally refers to the principal of the school as the "President" of Central High School. The current president is Dr. Sheldon S. Pavel.


Central High School was founded in 1836 as "the crowning glory" of Philadelphia Pennsylvania's public school system, "the worthy apex to a noble pyramid," and the first "high" school in the state. Because city voters only reluctantly had been convinced of the need for a high school, the curriculum was carefully and publicly geared to the needs of taxpayers. Central's founders made an especially concerted effort to avoid educating students in the manner of private academies of the day, where classical languages and literature were of paramount importance. [http://www.tfaoi.com/aa/3aa/3aa248.htm Traditional Fine Arts Organization] ]

Central High School of Philadelphia is the twentieth oldest public high school in the United States. The school was chartered by an Act of Assembly and approved on June 13, 1836. A site was purchased on the east side of Juniper Street below Market Street and on September 19, 1837, the cornerstone was laid. The school opened on October 26, 1838 with four professors and sixty-three students.

In November 1839, Alexander Dallas Bache, great grandson of Benjamin Franklin, and Professor of Natural Philosophy and Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania, was elected the first President of Central High School. President Bache resigned in 1842 to return to his professorship at the University of Pennsylvania, and was succeeded by John Seely Hart, who had been a Professor of Languages at Princeton University.

In 1845, two distinguished English members of the Society of Friends, James H. Tuke and Joseph Corosfield, spent several months in America investigating the school system of the United States. They devoted more than one-third of the text of their report to Central High School, which they depicted as a type of institution that had helped America and could help England.

An Act of Assembly, approved on April 9, 1849, provided that

“The Controllers of the Public Schools of the First School District of Pennsylvania shall have and possess power to confer academic degrees in the arts upon graduates of the Central High School, in the City of Philadelphia, and the same and like power to confer degrees, honorary and otherwise, which is now possessed by the University of Pennsylvania.” In accordance with this Act, the Board of Controllers on September 11, 1849, authorized the conferring of appropriate degrees upon graduates of Central High.

On June 24, 1847, the President of the United States, James K. Polk, with Vice-President George M. Dallas and Attorney General Nathan Clifford paid a visit to the school and addressed the students.

In September 1854, the school transferred to a new building, located at the southeast corner of Broad and Green Streets. In 1858, President Hart resigned and was succeeded by Nicholas Harper Maguire. In September 1900, the school moved to its third location in a newer and larger building located at Broad, Green, Fifteenth, and Brandywine Streets. During the formal dedication on November 22, 1902, Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States, addressed the students.

In 1939, Central moved from its location on Broad and Green to its fourth, current, location on Ogontz and Olney Avenues. The building left behind became the Benjamin Franklin High School.

After 139 years of existence as an all-male public high school, Central’s all-male policy was challenged by Susan Vorchheimer, who wished to be admitted to Central. On August 7, 1975, U.S. District Court Judge Clarence C. Newcomer ruled that Central must admit academically qualified girls starting in the fall term of 1975. The decision was appealed, and the Third Circuit Court ruled that Central had the right to retain its present status. ["Vorchheimer v. School District of Philadelphia", 532 F.2d 880 (3rd Cir. 1976).] The case eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court which, on April 19, 1977, upheld the Third Circuit Court's verdict by a 4 to 4 vote with one abstention. ["Vorchheimer v. School District of Philadelphia", 430 U.S. 703, 97 S.Ct. 1671, 51 L.Ed.2d 750 (1977).]

In August 1983, Judge William M. Marutani, of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia, ruled that the single-sex admission policy was unconstitutional. The Board of Education voted not to appeal the legal decision, thereby admitting girls to Central High School. In September 1983, the first six girls, all seniors, were admitted.

In October 1987, Central High School was officially named a Secondary school of National Excellence by the United States Department of Education and named a Blue Ribbon School. In March 1992, Redbook magazine named Central as one of the best schools in Pennsylvania. Central was named "Best Secondary School in Pennsylvania" by the magazine each year since they began rating the nation's best schools.

In 1993, construction of the new multi-million dollar art, science, and physical education addition was completed and it was officially dedicated on February 17, 1994.

During the 2004-2005 school year, a $12 million renovation of the Barnwell Library began, which finished near the end of that school year. The library is now one of the most advanced public school libraries in the United States.

Philadelphia School of Pedagogy

The Philadelphia School of Pedagogy was a program for Central graduates who wanted to become elementary school teachers. It was the male counterpart to the Philadelphia's normal school, originally the upper division of Philadelphia High School for Girls.

Once a Bachelor's degree became the standard qualification for teachers, the normal schools that were run by the State System of Higher Education became colleges (e.g. West Chester, Cheyney, Indiana, etc.). However the Philadelphia schools were run by the School District of Philadelphia, which had less money, and were located only a few blocks from Temple University.

Athletics and extracurriculars

Central offers its students over 75 extracurricular programs including an internationally acclaimed Orchestra. It also has an accomplished coeducational sports program offering every Public League interscholastic sport. The Central Lancers have won 92 Public League Championships in the last decade, making it the city athletic powerhouse. Those championships include sports such as soccer, basketball, baseball, bowling, softball, tennis, golf and track and field. Central is known throughout the east coast for its dominant track and field program. Central's cross country, indoor, and outdoor track athletes have set numerous city and state records and have gone onto collegiate and Olympic careers. The 2005 Central 4x800 team claimed the first state medal in PIAA competition for the Philadelphia Public League. From 2001-2005, the Central co-ed tennis team dominated the Public League winning four consecutive titles while losing only two regular season matches and earned one of the Public League's first PIAA playoff berths. Also in 2005, Central won the Philadelphia Public League Boys Basketball Championship for the first time since 1932. In 2006, the Central baseball team won the Public League Championship and advanced to the semi-finals of the PIAA state tournament. As of January, 2008, the girls basketball team has won a record 101 straight games in Public League competition, and six consecutive Public League Championships. As of May 2008, the girls soccer team has won the championship for the 5th year in a row and now holds the record for the longest winning streak and championship holder for women's soccer in public league history.

Central plays a yearly football game against longtime rival Northeast High School. The traditional Thanksgiving football game began in 1892 and is one of the oldest
public high school football rivalries in the United States.

Central puts a great emphasis on producing not only college graduates and future professionals, but also strong members of the community. It is one of the few public high schools that has a yearly community service requirement that needs to be fulfilled before graduation. 50 hours of community service, recently increased from 45 hours, must be completed and verified by academic personnel before the end of each school year. This program was implemented as an alternative to extending the school day in the early 1990s.

The music department, comprising an orchestra and choir, is world-renowned, having travelled to such locales as Israel, London, Quebec, and Austria. During the summer of 2007, they performed in the city of Budapest, Hungary, at the invitation of its mayor. Central is one of the few schools that give academic credit for participation in the orchestra. It was scheduled to be the first American High School group to travel to China, when the SARS outbreak occurred and caused the trip to be postponed. The department was awarded "Grammy Signature School" status in 2000.

Football Classic

Central High School has held a longtime rivalrywith Northeast High School with the high point being the annual Thanksgiving day football game. In 1947, [http://www.nehs.phila.k12.pa.us/game.html The Wooden Horse] carved from mahogany by Spurgeon Smith, (Northeast, Class of 1948), became the trophy held annually by the winner. The series began in 1892 and as of 2007, the record of wins and loses for Central High School was: W-49, L-45,T-9.

Presidents of Central High School

* Alexander Dallas Bache, LL.D. - 1839-1842
* John Seely Hart, LL.D. - 1842-1858
* Nicholas Harper Maguire, A.M. - 1858-1866
* George Inman Riché, A.M. - 1866-1886 (19th Class)
* Franklin Taylor, M.D. - 1886-1888
* Henry Clark Johnson, A.M., LL.B. - 1888-1893
* Robert Ellis Thompson, A.M., Ph.D., D.D., LL.D., - 1894-1920
* John Louis Haney, A.M., Ph.D., LL.D. - 1920-1943 (100th Class)
* William Hafner Cornog, A.M., L.H.D., Ph.D., - 1943-1955 (146th Class)
* Elmer Field, B.S., M.S., Ed.D. - 1955-1962 (122nd Class)
* William H. Gregory, B.S., Ed.M. - 1962-1969
* Howard Carlisle, B.S., A.M., Ed.D. - 1969-1983 (162nd Class)
* Sheldon S. Pavel, A.B., Ed.M, Ed.D. - 1984-2008

Media coverage

Central has been covered extensively in the media, both news and entertainment wise. As of March 28th, 2007, MTV is in the process of filming an episode of Made (TV series) set at the high school.Central's girls basketball team has also appeared on ESPN's Sportscenter Top 10 plays for their 100 games public league win streak.

Notable alumni

*Elliott Abrams - AccuWeather meteorologist, chief forecaster (223rd Class);B
*James P. Bagian - NASA astronaut, physician (228th Class)
*Albert C. Barnes - art collector, founder of world-renowned Barnes Foundation Art Gallery (92nd Class)
*John C. Bell, Jr. - former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania (75th Class)
*Jim Braude - radio commentator and talk show host on WTKK in Boston and NewsNight on New England Cable News
*King Britt - DJ and record producer ;C
*Philip Casnoff - actor (226th Class)
*Cassidy - rapper (dropped out after 9th grade, 259th class)
*Morris I. ("Moose") Charlap - broadway composer (186th Class)
*Noam Chomsky - linguist and political activist (184th Class)
*Mark B. Cohen - Pennsylvania State Legislative Leader (225th Class)
*Frank "Tick" Coleman - educator (156th class)
*Joel Cook - U.S. Congressman, journalist (33rd Class)
*Bill Cosby - comedian and entertainer (left after 10th grade- 204th Class);D
*Samuel Dash - law professor at Georgetown University (178th Class)
*James DePreist - orchestra conductor (202th Class)
*John H. Dialogue - major shipbuilder in Camden, New Jersey (5th class)
*Ignatius L. Donnelly - author, politician, U.S. Congressman (13th class)
*Joseph William Drexel - banker, philanthropist (13th Class) ;E
*Thomas Eakins - painter (38th Class);F
*Chaka Fattah Jr. - entrepreneur, founder of luxury concierge service American Royalty (259th Class)
*Douglas J. Feith - former U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, a major architect of the 2003 invasion of Iraq (230th Class)
*Norman Fell - actor, best known as Mr. Roper on "Three's Company" (176th Class)
*Samuel Simeon Fels - manufacturer, philanthropist (72nd Class)
*Lee Felsenstein - personal computer pioneer and activist (219th Cass)
*Larry Fine - Larry of the Three Stooges (132nd Class);G
*William Glackens - realist painter, co-founder of the Ashcan School art movement (90th Class)
*W. Wilson Goode, Jr. - Philadelphia City Councilman at Large, son of former mayor W. Wilson Goode
*E. Urner Goodman - early leader of the Boy Scouts of America (114th Class)
*Oscar Goodman - current Mayor of Las Vegas, Nevada, famed mob defense lawyer (clients included Meyer Lansky and "Lefty" Rosenthal (left after 10th grade)
*Daniel Guggenheim - industrialist and philanthropist, most powerful member of famed Guggenheim family (66th Class)
*Simon Guggenheim - industrialist, financier, philanthropist, U.S. Senator from Colorado, (87th Class);H
*John Harbeson - architect with H2L2 (111th Class)
*Joe Harris - mathematician at Harvard University working in algebraic geometry
*Joseph Smith Harris - President of the Reading Railroad (24th Class)
*Quiara Alegría Hudes - playwright and author best known for writing the book for the musical "In the Heights" (254th);I
*Albert Innaurato - playwright, theater director, and writer;K
*Louis Kahn - world-renowned architect (134th Class)
*Sam Katz - perennial Philadelphia Republican Mayoral Candidate (226th class)
*Alexander Kendrick - broadcast journalist (149th Class)
*Daniel Kevles - historian of science at Yale University, formerly at California Institute of Technology;L
*Alain LeRoy Locke - author, philosopher, and advocate of the arts (107th Class)
*Jerome Lowenthal - classical pianist, chair of Juilliard School Piano Department (192nd Class);M
*John Marzano - Major League Baseball catcher and broadcast analyst (240th Class)
*Jeffrey Milarsky - one of the leading conductors of contemporary music in New York City (243rd Class)
*Dr. Samuel Brown Wylie Mitchell - founder of the Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity
*Louis J. Mordell - leading 20th century mathematician (number theory) (111th Class)
*Joel Myers - founder of AccuWeather (208th class);N
*Robert N. C. Nix, Jr. - former Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court (186th Class);P
*Robert E. Pattison - former Governor of Pennsylvania (55th Class)
*Ramon L. Posel - founder of Ritz Theatres (186th Class);R
*David Raksin - composer, "Grandfather of Film Music" (153rd Class)
*Arnold Roth - cartoonist, humorist (186th Class);S
*Glenn "Hurricane" Schwartz - WCAU (TV), NBC 10 chief meteorologist
*Bree Sharp - singer and songwriter (252nd Class)
*Julie Stevens - actress, film director and producer (246th Class)
*Frank R. Stockton - writer and humorist (19th Class)
*Charles Stone III - film director and creator of the popular US advertising campaign, "Whassup?" for Budweiser beer, son of journalist Chuck Stone (243rd Class);T
*John Baxter Taylor, Jr. - track and field athlete, first African-American Olympic Gold Medalist
*Raymond Joseph Teller - magician, silent half of the comedy magic duo known as Penn & Teller (224th Class)
*Howard Temin - geneticist, shared the 1975 Nobel Prize in Medicine (196th Class)
*Dylan Tichenor - Academy Award-nominated film editor for his work in "There Will Be Blood" (245th Class)
*Arthur Tracy - world famous vaudeville performer, singer, actor, known as "The Street Singer" (130th Class);W
*John Wallowitch - composer, songwriter and cabaret performer (181st Class)
*Louis J. Weichmann - one of the chief witnesses for the prosecution in the conspiracy trial of the Abraham Lincoln assassination. Previously he was also a suspect
*Andrew Weil - physician, author, proponent of integrative medicine (212th Class)
*Edward Weinberger - TV producer and writer, winner of three Emmys (204th Class)
*Stephen William White - translator of Jules Verne and secretary of the Northern Central Railway (32nd class)Franklin Spencer Edmonds, "History of the Central High School of Philadelphia" [http://books.google.com/books?id=U75JAAAAIAAJ] (1902), Lippincott]
*Alexander Woolcott - renowned drama critic for The New Yorker magazine, journalist, author, member of the Algonquin Round Table (110th Class)
*Jeremiah Wright - former Senior Pastor of the Trinity United Church of Christ megachurch in Chicago (211th Class)
*Ed Wynn - entertainer, actor, comedian, producer, Academy Award Nominee, also known as the voice of the "Mad Hatter" and as "Uncle Albert" In Mary Poppins (110th Class);Y
*Charles Yerkes - industrialist and financier, played a major part in developing mass-transit systems in Chicago and London (27th Class)

External links

* [http://centralhigh.net The Central High School Web Site]
* [http://www.centralhighalumni.com The Central High Alumni Site]
* [http://www.centralhighalumni.com/page_display.asp?pid=59 The Central High School Hall of Fame]
* [http://chs248.us The Central High School 248th Class Web Site]


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