Student Community

Penn Charter cultivates and nurtures connections among students across the grades and divisions. From all-school traditions to academic projects, our oldest and youngest learners learn from — and have fun with! — each other.

To build connections within each grade and to strengthen student-teacher bonds, ninth through twelfth grades each go on multi-day trips at the beginning of the school year. Activities center on team-building, leadership development, confidence boosting and fun, laying the groundwork for a successful academic year.

The performing arts in Upper School offers many opportunities for student talent and passion to shine. Students not usually in the same classes or athletic teams come together in music, plays, set-building, and more, strengthening the fabric of the community. A few members of the faculty perform with bands and in plays, offering opportunity for student-teacher connection outside the classroom. Students and families pack the seats to support their friends and family in yet another example of how a strong community enhances the classroom experience.

Students in 10th and second grades each study Quakerism during the course of the year. This parallel offers opportunities to collaborate on lessons and projects small and large. The students connect regularly, establishing a tie across the two divisions; sophomores, who often need opportunities to flex their leadership muscles, enjoy spending time with students who look up to them.

Major student-led evenings, school days and weekends happen throughout the year. Showcase is an evening of pizza and student talent run by and for upper schoolers. The low-key events held a few times a year bring the community together in support of each other. Friends Multicultural Day, held once a year, is a day of workshops and teach-in sessions around many different topics, planned and run by students and a few faculty. The day is capped by an afternoon of rousing student performances.

Female sudents gather in a small group in discussion with a female teacher

Student leadership opportunities abound in Upper School. The grades are led by co-clerks and by student council, all elected by their peers, who engage in leadership training for decision-making in the Quaker tradition of consensus. Clubs and activities are student-led, with faculty support, but driven and run by students. Leadership from team captains, stage managers, creators of the video-news segment the Wednesday Weekly, service council and more indicate that these opportunities are plentiful, encouraged and give students a chance to shine when leading something they care deeply about.

A beloved tradition, the entire PC community gathers in the Meeting Room for Meeting for Worship toward the end of each school year. Lower School students walk alongside Upper School students into, and out of, worship. Though brief, the walk from the classroom allows for memorable cross-divisional connection.

Find your niche at Penn Charter! There are many student clubs and affinity clubs to join, and if the club you want doesn't exist, create it! Affinity groups range from BSU to LGTBQ+ to SALSA and Club Shalom, and more. From Animé to Social Entrepreneurship to Mock Trial to Writing Club, options abound. Dabble in some or dive deep into one! Students connect over shared interests, join in research and action, and educate the wider community.

The Cheryl Irving Student Diversity Conference is a student-led conference for high school students around Philadelphia. Developed and run by Penn Charter students, the Saturday event features workshops designed to follow up on the community built at the NAIS People of Color Conference. These events, spearheaded by students, are an opportunity for leadership, to test new ideas, they provide additional opportunities to share culture and knowledge, and they bring the Upper School students and faculty together in important ways.