The following statement represents the agreed upon philosophy of Central High School as developed by staff during the self study for the Middle States evaluation scheduled in March of 1995:
Serving the community of Philadelphia since 1838, Central High School stands as a monument to perhaps the most significant enterprise of human kind. This enterprise is based on the proposition that all the citizens of a nation shall be educated to the fullest extent of their ability and aspiration so that a free and open society may be sustained for all times.SCHOOLPROFILE1415 (1)
Central High School was, indeed, the first institution in the United States dedicated to offering advanced education at public expense to students simply because they were citizens and also demonstrated a love and desire for learning.
This is our legacy; and, in a nation that is now fully dedicated to universal education at ever higher levels of expectation, it describes our mission even today. But, Central High School is more than a monument. It remains an institution that, while it sustains its initial purpose, has changed over time as the substance of education has evolved and as the students we serve have become more varied. Today, as in the past, our students reflect the culture of the city in all its multiple textures. Yet they come together in an academic community for the timeless purpose of schooling themselves toward becoming praiseworthy citizens of an open society.
Such an education should certainly be grounded in the rich heritage of knowledge on which our culture is based. But also, this education must center on the process of human interaction which makes an open society possible. This means that our students must develop habits of personal responsibility while collaborating with one another in solving problems, overcoming obstacles, and shaping their lives in mutual support. As a faculty we are dedicated to the role of enabler in the education of our students not regarding them as empty vessels into which something called knowledge is poured, but as partners in the lifetime enterprise of learning what there is to know, and how to act humanly with what they know. We regard ourselves as guides and mentors in this often perplexing undertaking. We seek always to create an academic community in which learning is the common bond and where differences of personal conviction, cultural background, and ethnic origin are not regarded as problems, but as conditions to be held in reverence, indeed, as the very stuff of learning itself.
Further, we maintain that young people must learn to exercise freedom and learn to make choices. However, choices become more available as knowledge and skills increase. Consequently, a choice, if unachievable is no choice at all. This being the case, we encourage in our students, not exclusive enthusiasms, but the widest spectrum of interests that they can embrace. Hence we promote, not only intellectual development, but also social enrichment and athletic prowess. Our hope is that, as our students seek to determine how they will live their lives, they will be grounded sufficiently in the skills, knowledge, and experience that will make real choices possible. Finally, we are not content in being a monument to past goals and aspirations, however commendable they may be. Instead, we set ourselves the task of enhancing the humanity of our students in a community that does not merely reflect the society at large, but rather serves as a model by which our students may forge an ever more humane society in the future.
- To provide an academic environment that fosters in our students a commitment to the highest order of academic achievement.
- To foster in our students a readiness to excel in higher education and in lifetime careers.
- To foster in our students a commitment to active and responsible citizenship.
- To provide an educational program that embraces the accumulated knowledge of humankind, and fosters the habits of critical inquiry and analysis.
- To provide an educational environment that promotes collaboration and interaction in the learning process.
- To extend educational opportunities beyond the school to the community at large.
- To extend beyond the physical confines of the school the opportunities of our students to serve the community at large.
- To provide an environment and an educational program that acknowledge the value of creative arts.
- To provide an environment and an educational program that acknowledge the value of physical development, physical coordination and athletic achievement.
- To celebrate and cherish the diversity of our student body as a precious resource for mutual education and ethical development.
- To build a cohesive, mutually supportive academic community to serve as a model for the community at large and from which our students may draw inspiration as they build the future.