About Us

Friends of High School Park

The Friends of High School Park (FHSP) is a non-profit volunteer organization whose mission is to create, manage, and preserve a viable 11+ acre native ecosystem within Cheltenham Township’s High School Park for the enjoyment and education of the community.

We offer the community opportunities to engage and connect with each other and nature through various educational programs, work-service days, and our annual festivals.

Since its creation in 1995, FHSP has transformed this site of the former high school into an award-winning park with 3 distinct ecosystems: the upper meadow, the middle woodland edge, and the lower area stream bank. Wander through the winding upper meadow paths, and discover the demonstration gardens, a working rain garden, and a raised walkway and bird observation deck. Then, meander through the middle woodland area and down onto the stream banks of the Tookany Creek.

Take a virtual walk and see a bird’s-eye view of High School Park

Location

The Park

High School Park

Located on the corner of Montgomery Avenue and High School Road in Elkins Park, this 11-acre green space is just a short walk from the Elkins Park train station. The park is open to the public and offers a place to relax and unwind or take a leisurely walk with your family, friend and pets. Additionally, the park serves as a valuable educational resource for local schools and communities.

Our Relationship with Cheltenham Township

The stewardship of the 11 acre Cheltenham Township “High School Park” began in 1995 as a collaboration between the Township and our small non-profit, volunteer organization, Friends of High School Park. Together over the years, we have worked to create and preserve this viable 11+ acre native ecosystem within Cheltenham Township’s High School Park for the enjoyment and education of the community.

Our History

Four Cheltenham Township school buildings once stood where the meadow now blooms. The first building was built in 1904, with additional high school structures added in the 1920’s and 30’s. In 1959, after the new high school was built in the neighboring community of Wyncote, the old site continued to serve as a series of educational institutions, and was then abandoned by the mid-1980’s. The buildings eventually deteriorated, and a spectacular fire gutted the main building.

The Friends of High School Park came into being as a small committee representing the concerns and interests of the surrounding neighborhood. This group became a major advocate for turning the site into a native plant park within the Cheltenham Township Parks System and was formally incorporated in 1995. The 11+acre property of the high school was purchased by Cheltenham Township under Montgomery County’s Open Space Acquisition Program.
The Township agreed with FHSP’s visionary plans to create a public green space and the work began. FHSP continues to enhance the native ecology of the park with the addition of new perennial gardens, native trees and shrubs throughout the 11 acres.

As a small non-profit, our budget is structured on profits from our annual fundraisers, donations and annual membership. Created soon after our incorporation, Arts in the Park, our annual festival, fills the park with artisans, musicians and food vendors. We also hold smaller events throughout the year, including Environmental Art Exhibits, Stewardship-Volunteer Workday Weekends, Native Plant Sales and Educational Workshops. Please join us!

The Friends of High School Park Staff

Cynthia Blackwood

Cynthia Blackwood

FHSP Restoration Manager

A familiar face in the park, Cynthia has lived in Elkins Park for over 26 years working with Friends of High School Park as President (7 years), on various committees, or as a volunteer almost from its beginning. Cynthia is firmly planted in this little hamlet of Elkins Park with a strong devotion to our community having owned The Frame House, just down the block for 21 years and raising her 3 children here. Come find her in the park!

Email: fhsprestorationmanager@gmail.com

Julie Alexander

Julie Alexander

FHSP Operations Manager

Julie joined FHSP in March of 2024 and is thrilled to be here! She has worn many hats over the years, but Operations Manager for a non-profit, community organization is a first. She is bringing her “Jill of all trades” background to FHSP and is looking forward to developing greener thumbs and getting to know all the friends of the park.

E-mail: fhspoperationsmanager@gmail.com
215-782-8082

The Friends of High School Park Board of Directors

The FHSP Board of Directors provides overall leadership and coordination of all Friends of High School Park activities.

Directors serve one- or two-year terms. All Directors must be members of the Friends of High School Park. Nominations are accepted, October through December and elections are held in January. Please contact us to volunteer or submit a nomination.

Officers
President  •  Robin Locke Nagele
Vice President  •  Doug Alderfer
Treasurer •   Keith Snodgrass
Recording Secretary  •  Terry Sutton Kravitz

FHSP Board Members

Member • Ava Adames
Member • Tammra Banner
Member • Dave Breder
Member • Amy Cuker
Member • Rebecca Kelly
Member • Lauren Ladd
Member • Mike Landis
Member • Nicholas Lodise
Member • Connie Perry
Member • Bennett Povlow
Member • Tarsha Scovens

Awards

Our members work hard to maintain our beautiful grounds. Our efforts have not gone unnoticed. Here are some of the awards and honors that the Friends of High School Park have received over the years. We look forward to all that we will accomplish in the coming years, and to all the members new and old that will help us to achieve even more.

We are always looking for volunteers to help with our efforts. Check the Volunteer page for events and ways to help be a  part of our success.