Maguire Scholar profile: John Burke ’20
A few weeks prior to Christmas 2015, John and Suzanne Burke received the good news that their son John had been chosen as a Maguire Foundation scholar.
The scholarship would allow their son John, then a straight-A student at Norwood-Fontbonne Academy in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia, to attend the high school of his dreams, Holy Ghost Prep.
The parents agreed to keep the scholarship news under wraps. The plan was to unveil it as an additional Christmas present for John. But as the shopping days until Christmas 2015 began to dwindle, they noticed that their son was getting anxious and decided to deviate from their original plan.
“I can laugh about it now,” says Holy Ghost Prep freshman John Burke. “But at the time, I knew of some other kids who had applied and gotten Maguire scholarships and I hadn’t gotten any word yet. I was starting to worry that I didn’t make the cut.”
It turned out he had nothing to worry about. His parents handed him the acceptance letter, and Burke has been smiling ever since.
“I wouldn’t be here at Holy Ghost Prep, receiving an exceptional education, without the generosity of the Maguire Foundation,” said Burke. “Coming to this school is a dream come true.”
He has been a valued member of the Holy Ghost community from the day he arrived on campus from his Northeast Philadelphia home.
“John is an amazing young man,” says Ryan Abramson ’94, Holy Ghost Prep’s director of admissions. “From his first day at HGP he clearly sought to take advantage of the opportunity to come to school here. He has a keen understanding of the sacrifice his family makes for him to be an HGP student and a humble recognition that the best way he can repay that sacrifice is to use his outstanding gifts to contribute to our community.”
Burke, whose cousin Michael Smith will be a HGP freshman next fall, truly personifies the Maguire Foundation’s “Six Steps to Success.” He is not only making an impact in the classroom and as a point guard on Holy Ghost’s freshman basketball team, but he fully understands the importance of setting goals and then working hard to achieve them (thanks to the example set by his parents) and of serving others (a lesson he learned by supporting his brother Tony).
Tony has autism and attends the Comprehensive Learning Center (CLC). John Burke has run 5K races for the AJ Foundation, which raises money for his brother’s school, and has participated in competitive run/swims at his local swim club to raise money for a junior lifeguard’s program which helps children with developmental and physical disabilities.
“John Burke embodies qualities well beyond his years as a student-athlete: mental toughness, listening, sportsmanship, determination and leadership,” says Holy Ghost Prep athletic director Jim Stewart, who serves as Burke’s coach on the ninth-grade basketball team. “He is a respectful young man with a very bright future ahead of him. It is a pleasure to coach John.”
Burke is one of four students in the Class of 2020 who are attending Holy Ghost Prep through the Maguire Independent Schools Scholars program—the others being Nicholas LaRosa, Shane Love, and Joseph Tufo.
Holy Ghost Preparatory School is a partner with the Maguire Foundation, a philanthropic enterprise founded by James J. and Frances Maguire in October, 2000 that focuses its resources on education. The Maguire Foundation provides grants to grade school, high school, and college students so that they may have an opportunity to benefit from a quality education. As part of this exceptional program, Maguire scholars are required to achieve benchmarks in academics, class attendance, and community service participation.
“We are so grateful for our relationship with the Maguire Foundation,” says Holy Ghost president Gregory J. Geruson ’79. “Their philanthropy has allowed four tremendous young men—John, Nicholas, Shane, and Joseph—to be a part of and thrive within our Holy Ghost Prep community. We are looking forward to welcoming future Maguire scholars in the years to come.”