Phillips Marks the Start of the School’s Centennial Year

Phillips’ students and teachers gather for a group photo to mark the start of the school’s centennial year.

No, Phillips kindergartners, it isn’t like this every day. Ask the old-timers in 5th grade and they’ll tell you that today was the first time everybody assembled on the playground and a voice boomed “Say cheese and pickles!” from the roof.

That’s because a centennial only comes around once every hundred years.

Phillips Traditional School first opened in 1914 and, like a rocket, was assembled in stages. Additions were made to the original building in 1916, 1925, and 1951. The gymnasium where an assembly was held this morning prior to the group photo shoot outdoors was added in 1975.

One of the tenets of the traditional school designation is a dress code but it’s not so narrow as to require uniforms. The only reason that all 368 students were dressed so alike today is because they all wore Phillips Centennial t-shirts as a celebration was launched that will play out in various ways over the course of the 2013-14 year. You can’t do justice to a whole century in one morning. Besides, Phillips is hardly a party school. More minutes per week are allocated to study basic skills.  Homework is mandatory.  There’s an extra emphasis on orderly behavior as a means of creating the ideal environment for students to concentrate on their studies. Even the assembly this morning, complete with a rousing mass rendition of the school song, We’ve Got Rip-Roaring Tiger Pride, and an appearance by the Phillips Tiger (Phil? Rip? Roary?), was impressively smooth for Day Two of the new school year. From their classrooms to the gym to the playground and back to class in under an hour; the close order drill was worthy of a parade ground.

Phillips is the only DMPS school that offers the Core Knowledge Sequence as an extension of the district curriculum. The Core Knowledge Sequence was developed by the National Core Knowledge Foundation and is part of a research study conducted by John Hopkins University. Phillips has been a designated traditional school for about the last quarter of its long, rich history. Along with Jefferson, the other elementary school officially tagged with that status, it represents one important element of the breadth of choice for students and parents that is a DMPS hallmark.

Maybe the centennial observance will include some study of local history through the life and times of Judge William Phillips, the school’s namesake and a 19th century lawyer, businessman and prohibitionist. That sort of focus certainly jibes with the Phillips mission which, if you think about it, seems to jibe just as nicely with what it’s easy to imagine were the views and values of ol’ Judge Phillips.

“Responsibility is our rule.

The Code of Respect is our tool.

Here at Phillips, we’re not shy

‘Cause we got rip-roaring Tiger Pride!”


Happy hundredth, Phillips!

Photos from Phillips’ Centennial Kick-Off

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