CHS Groundbreaking 2019
CHS President Timothy J. McKenna, Superintendant Dr. William Hite Jr., Governor Tom Wolf, Joseph M Field 192, Dick Prinz 212, Chuck Steinberg 221

Central High School Groundbreaking Marks Start of Major Renovation/Expansion 

Designed to Create a Lasting Legacy for Future Students 

PHILADELPHIA, PA (June 4, 2019) – The School District of Philadelphia, along with Central High School and the Associated Alumni of Central High School held a groundbreaking ceremony at the school today to mark the start of construction for Phase 1 of a unique public-private partnership called “Leading the Way for Innovation and Creativity.”This project will expand, renovate and reinvigorate the campus at Ogontz and Olney Avenues. The project will create a world-class learning environment for future generations of high school students in Philadelphia. 

The School District of Philadelphia approved $8.1 million which will be used for the initial site development for the project. Phase 1 includes a new parking lot for staff, students and visitors which will be handicapped accessible, feature new lighting and will be infused with sustainable infrastructure to manage stormwater. The parking lot will be constructed at a lower elevation allowing for the removal of deteriorating retaining walls and narrow driveways that divide the campus. The campus vehicular entry will be moved away from the busy intersection of Ogontz and Olney Avenues and will be wider and safer for incoming and outgoing traffic. The project also includes a new drop-off loop for students. Outdoor spaces that are useful to academic, social, athletic and operational needs are incorporated, including outdoor STEM classrooms and an area designated for loading and deliveries. 

Dr. William R. Hite, Superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia, said “Though we end the 2018-2019 school year today, we also look ahead to the future, and to the success that we expect from our Central High School students who will benefit from this exciting investment. The transformation of Central’s campus will lead to expanded academic opportunities for students, especially in the arts. We are proud to be able to support students this way as they prepare for college and career.” 

Central High School President Timothy J. McKenna said “today we begin the transformation of our campus in an effort to improve the educational opportunities for the students at Central High School.” He added, “This is a historic day for Central. I couldn’t be prouder of our past, present and where we are going in the future.” 

Phase 1 of the project will pave the way for the future construction of a state-of-the art Performing Arts Center on the north lawn of the campus just outside the historic main entrance to the school. Central alumnus Joseph Field (192) is the lead benefactor for the project. Mr. Field is the founder of Entercom Communications Corporation and a local philanthropist who supports arts and music programs throughout the Philadelphia area. Eager to give back to the school, Mr. Field offered a $10 million gift to kick off the capital campaign. He never forgot how difficult it was, as a student, to perform in the school’s existing auditorium. “Today, thanks to Dr. Hite and the School District of Philadelphia, Central High begins a major infrastructural construction project that will remedy shortcomings in its building’s 1939 design and solve problems that have surfaced over its 80 year life,” said Mr. Field. He added, “Solutions to those problems and issues plus other modifications are all necessary pre-conditions to the start of construction of the Performing Arts Center.” 

The anticipated completion date for Phase 1 of the project is the Fall of 2020. Construction work is being done by Bencardino Excavating Incorporated and Paramount Electrical Services, LLC. MGA Partners of Philadelphia is the architectural firm for the project. 

Chartered in 1836, Central High School is the 2nd oldest public high school in the country. It was one of the last schools constructed in Philadelphia prior to the start of World War II. 

About Central High School 

As a college preparatory public school, Central High challenges students with rigorous academic programs to prepare them for the demands of higher education. Building upon the diversity in our school, we aim to prepare students to contribute and thrive in a heterogeneous world. We will enable students to develop problem solving skills, a life-long passion for learning, and aspirations to be thoughtful leaders of their generation. For more information, visit 

Ms. Ashley Zesserman, Governor Tom Wolf, and 278th class recent graduates
Ms. Ashley Zesserman (CHS Teacher), Governor Tom Wolf, and 278th class recent graduates
Governor Wolf signing the historic Central High Visitors Book
Governor Tom Wolf signing the historic Central High Visitors Book

About The Associated Alumni of Central High School 

The mission of the Associated Alumni of Central High School is to encourage and support the School’s high standards of scholarship, integrity and democratic values, to facilitate and maintain pride in Central High School and, as well, to encourage an impact upon community growth through financial and personal involvement, while broadening social and professional relationships among its alumni. For more information, visit