Central High School on Wednesday announced a $42 million capital campaign to improve and expand its campus, propelled by a $10 million donation by an alumnus.
Joseph M. Field, founder of Entercom Communications Corporation, has pledged what is believed to be the largest single gift in the school’s history. It would go toward building a performing arts center, a 400-seat venue that would accommodate musical, theatrical and dance performances. It would feature a scene shop and dressing rooms, and would allow outside groups to perform at the school.
The announcement made during a Wednesday morning ceremony was attended by Mayor Kenney, Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. and others. Groundbreaking is set for January 2019.
The Philadelphia School District has also signed off on $8.1 million toward the project. Donors would foot the remainder of the bill, with Field matching most contributions.
Field, whose Bala Cynwyd firm recently finalized a merger with CBS Radio, graduated from the elite magnet school in 1949.
Courtesy of the Associated Alumni of Central High School An artist’s rendering of a planned expansion to Philadelphia’s Central High School, which would include improved outside spaces, and a performing arts center.
“Central High School provides an extraordinary opportunity for all who enter to receive an outstanding high school education and likely admission to college at a level that their overall achievement merits,” Field said in a statement. “It provides a pathway to success in virtually any area of endeavor involving the liberal arts and sciences.”
Central has strong performing arts programs, Field believes, but lacks the physical space and resources to offer state-of-the-art facilities. His gift and those of other alumni can change that, he said.
Forty-one percent of Central students participate in music, theater, dance, and the visual arts through courses or extracurricular activities.
In addition to the performing arts center, the project would also spruce up the exterior of the school at Ogontz and Olney Avenues, providing outdoor classrooms, improvements to the parking lot, academic and athletic facilities.
Key to the project’s completion will be the strength of its active alumni network.
“It is now our responsibility to help future Central students to continue that wonderful experience, by building an expansion, and renovating the iconic building that is approaching 80 years old,” said Charles Steinberg, a co-chair of the alumni capital campaign. “Central, the most diverse school in the country, offers to every child in Philadelphia, the opportunity to get the best college preparatory education in the city.”
Central developed a master plan with input from students, teachers, alumni and other interested parties, said Timothy McKenna, the school’s president, as Central’s principals are known. The upgrades will “provide our students with world-class facilities to learn, grow and share their gifts,” McKenna said.
Central is believed to be the second oldest public school in the country. It has operated continuously since 1836 and moved to its current location in 1939. It is the city’s second-largest high school, with 2,300 students.
Courtesy of the Associated Alumni of Central High School A rendering of a planned expansion to Central High School. Here, the improved campus is shown in context of the neighborhood.
- John R. Vannoni, 91, founding principal of Philly's High School for Creative and Performing Arts
Oct 31 - 5:09 PM
- With excavators ready, state board won't consider historic-site status for Camden High School
Nov 6 - 5:00 AM
- We asked Philly parents to send us photos of their kids on Halloween. Here's what we got
Nov 1 - 1:04 PM
We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines Commenting policy | Comments FAQ
Philly.com comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.
Please note that comments are monitored by Philly.com staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.
Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.
Load comments...Read more