This large building ahead and to your left is the High School, which was designed by John T. Windrim and completed in 1916. The entrance facing the circle has large Doric columns and three massive stained glass windows, added later, which depict the life of Stephen Girard. Stephen Girard wanted his students to be given a strong and highly employable education. This means that throughout the years the educators at Girard have geared students toward a wide range of skills.
In the earliest years of Girard College, after leaving the school students would have been placed in an apprenticeship under the guidance of a craftsman or local business. This experience would help them gain skills and employment. In the 1880s a mechanical school was built on campus to teach manual and technical skills. The academic and mechanical education was known as the dual curriculum and eventually, tracks developed in which students would pursue either an academically focused path or technically focused training. Although students were required to take classes in both, students in the technical track spent much of their time in the mechanical school, located at the west end of campus. They could focus on carpentry, foundry, printing, drawing, audio mechanics, or many other skills, these students were nicknamed “tekkers”.
Although Girard no longer has vocational classes as part of the curriculum, many objects from the mechanical school are proudly on display within the museum at Founder’s Hall. Currently the educational focus of Girard is to create a sturdy foundation for graduates to succeed in college, thus fulfilling the original goal of preparing them for successful lives after Girard. Current graduates all receive multiple college offers and Girard remains in touch with them through their college years to help connect them with resources.
The remaining stops on our tour are behind the stone section of the wall and are easier to see from the opposite side of South College Avenue. After viewing the High School cross the street at the crosswalk and walk along the far side of South College, away from the school gate. Stop just past the High School, where you can see a large building with a steeply pitched roof rising above the stone wall.