About Us

Our Mission

The Philadelphia High School for Girls has a one hundred sixty-six year history as a public, college preparatory school whose heritage is founded in tradition, for academically talented young women drawn from the diversity of our city. Our mission is to graduate students who will treat others compassionately and lead lives of personal integrity at the university level, preparing them to be future leaders. This is accomplished in a safe, nurturing environment that challenges the intellect, provides an enriching extracurricular program, embraces diversity and encourages ethical behavior. We maintain a rich and rigorous academic program, which includes Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate, as well as outstanding humanities courses.

Our Traditions

The Philadelphia High School for Girls was founded in 1848 to “prepare teachers for the common schools of Philadelphia.” It was the first municipally supported secondary school for girls in the United States and was called the Girls’ Normal School. In 1893, the Philadelphia High School for Girls separated from the Girls’ Normal School, and the basis for today’s college preparatory curriculum was laid. It continues to exist as a school for the academically talented, providing young students with outstanding opportunities for scholarship, leadership, and service. Its’ motto, “Vincit qui se vincit” (He conquers who conquers himself), is embodied in the Code of Honor and Courtesy written by students early in this century.


Motto: “Vincit qui se vincit” (He conquers who conquers himself), attributed to Publilius Syrus, a first century B.C. writer of mimes whose pithy sayings were frequently used as mottoes in Roman schools. Our school adopted this particular maxim because of the realization that self-mastery is one of the most important goals we should strive to attain.


Code of Honor and Courtesy: We, the students of the Philadelphia High School for Girls, recognizing that all progress comes through the definite pursuit of an ideal, and desiring to perpetuate the traditions of honor, self-control and service to others, so earnestly fostered by our school, do here set down an expression of the ideal of our school society hoping that such it may remain through all the years to come, and calling on each successive generation of students who follow us, solemnly and individually to subscribe to it, in token of their joining that honorable society and devoting themselves to its ideal.


We believe that our most sacred possession is our honor; and we would guard it so jealously that no human being, through us, should suffer the slightest wrong, and that, for no reward whatever, would we accept an advantage that is not fairly ours. Especially we would be faithful to every trust that our own hearts, or the confidence of others reposes in us. We would be kind: helping our fellows with gracious acts and ready sympathy, and in love for them seeking their good above our own. We would be brave: strong to accept defeat, rebuke, misfortune, and to turn them into gain always attempting, at least, the harder task and letting not one golden opportunity pass unchallenged. We would be wise: simple goodness, and devotion to duty, and every grace of the spirit we would set above any intellectual gain, however brilliant, and every mental attainment above all material things whatever; and we would give to what is noble and true our highest reverence. We here declare our purpose to dedicate our lives to this ideal forever.

Our Philosophy:

Each individual possesses unlimited potential for growth and change and has the power within to maximize that potential.
Each individual is a valued member of the school community.
Each individual must take personal responsibility for her actions and by doing so exercise self-discipline, which enhances the pursuit of knowledge.
Each individual, as part of the community, is responsible for the success of that community.
Moral/ethical behavior enhances the individual and the communities they inhabit.
Through honoring differences among individuals and groups, we enhance our community and ourselves.
Integrity, empathy, compassion, and respect are essential elements of fully integrated individuals.
Persistent individual effort in pursuit of a goal must be supported and rewarded.
The pursuit of excellence in a lifetime of learning is a goal of every member of the school community.
Each decision made should maximize an individual’s potential for growth.