News & Events
Six HGP artists will have their work displayed at the 22nd Annual Bucks County High School Art Exhibit from March 25 through April 5.
HGP artists will exhibit at Bucks County Community College
Six HGP artists will have their work featured at the 22nd Annual Bucks County High School Art Exhibit, which will take place in the Bucks County Community College’s Hicks Art Center from March 25 through April 5.
The six Holy Ghost artists whose work will be displayed at the community college are Hengrui Wang, Self-Portrait (linoleum print); Christopher Corr, John Lennon (linoleum print); Jacob Lawall, Tiger Lillies (intaglio print); Graham Gibbs, Memory Project (charcoal); Nathan Nicastro, Self-Portrait (linoleum print); and Anthony Baum, Slow Crawl (linoleum print).
An awards reception honoring the artists will be held on Sunday, March 26, 2017 at 2:30 p.m.
The first-place winning artwork from this exhibition will be sent to Washington, D.C., where it will represent Pennsylvania’s 8th Congressional District and be displayed in the corridors of the Cannon Tunnel of the U.S. Capitol for a year.
Mark Kuhn, John Halko and Michael Courtney, three 2008 HGP grads who started Oat Foundry together, made Drexel University's list of 40 people to watch under the age of 40.
Three 2008 HGP grads featured in Drexel University's "40 under 40"
to ready the Drexel University Magazine
"40 under 40" piece on the six Oat Foundry founders, including 2008 HGP graduates Mark Kuhn, John Halko and Michael Courtney.
Ghost Stories is an online newsletter for alumni, parents, and students of Holy Ghost Prep.
Eleven HGP students, including Jon Mann (left) and Mason El-Habr (right), will compete at the NCFL Grand National Tournament in Louisville, Kentucky over the Memorial Day Weekend.
Eleven HGP students will compete in forensics national championships
Holy Ghost Prep’s renowned speech and debate program has qualified 11 students to compete against the nation’s best at the NCFL Grand National Tournament in Louisville, Kentucky this upcoming Memorial Day Weekend.
The students who will be making the trip to Louisville are:
Jon Mann and Mason El-Habr
Luke Muller and Colin Landers
Stefano Arnone and Kevin Nowicke
The HGP team isn’t resting on its laurels. In fact, they will compete for the 2017 state championship at the Pennsylvania High School Speech League tournament March 16-17 at Bloomsburg University.
Holy Ghost Prep students performed well at the Tests of Engineering Aptitude Mathematics and Science (TEAMS) competition at Widener University on March 7.
Holy Ghost Prep excels in TEAMS competition at Widener University
Holy Ghost Prep students recently displayed their knowledge and skills during the Tests of Engineering Aptitude Mathematics and Science (TEAMS) competition at Widener University on March 7.
Dr. Stephen Tomchaw, the science department chair and a physics teacher at Holy Ghost Prep, took six teams of HGP students to compete in the local competition. The competition consists of a written essay, a multiple choice exam, and an on-site design and build exercise. The theme for this year's competition was Engineering the Environment. The students' essay focused on a source of renewable energy that is appropriate to Pennsylvania.
The junior team placed third in the 11/12 grade division. HGP’s sophomore team tied for first in the 9/10 grade division, while the freshman team placed 3rd in the 9/10 grade division.
Qualification for the national competition in Orlando, Florida is based on the scores in all three areas (written essay, multiple choice exam, on-site design and build) and will be announced in April.
The members of three HGP teams that sported top-3 finishes at Widener University were:
HGP’s junior team (third-place finisher)
HGP’s sophomore team (tied for first place)
HGP’s freshman team (third-place finisher)
Holy Ghost Prep was recognized as one of the leaders in the Coaches vs. Cancer's school initiative at the University of Pennsylvania's historic Palestra on Monday, March 13.
Holy Ghost Prep honored at Coaches vs. Cancer breakfast on March 13
Holy Ghost Prep was recognized as one of the leaders in the Coaches vs. Cancer’s school initiative at the University of Pennsylvania’s historic Palestra on Monday, March 13.
The City 6 men’s college basketball coaches—Villanova’s Jay Wright, Temple’s Fran Dunphy, Saint Joseph’s Phil Martelli, La Salle’s John Giannini, Penn’s Steve Donahue, and Drexel’s Zach Spiker—gathered on the morning after Selection Sunday for their annual breakfast at the Palestra to raise money for cancer research and to celebrate the successes of the past year.
During the breakfast, Holy Ghost Prep was singled out for its successful efforts to raise money for Coaches vs. Cancer this year.
Back at a January 18th morning school assembly, Holy Ghost Prep’s Tony Chapman and Jim Stewart presented Coaches vs. Cancer’s Bill Campo with a check for $4,000. That money was raised during Holy Ghost Prep’s 12th annual CARES Walk. Chapman and Stewart presented another check for $3,500 to Campo at the Palestra on Monday, March 13. These proceeds came from the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, a six-game basketball marathon held at Holy Ghost Prep back on January 21.
These funds will benefit Coaches vs. Cancer, a nationwide collaboration between the American Cancer Society and college and high school basketball coaches that empowers basketball coaches, their teams, and local communities to make a difference in the fight against cancer.
Holy Ghost Prep students and parents are invited to speak up on important topics on Thursday, March 16 at 6 p.m. in the Firebird Fieldhouse.
March 16th SpeakUp! event will offer HGP students, parents the opportunity for open dialogue
Balancing schoolwork, achieving good grades, filling out college applications, making the varsity roster or the school play, having an active social life—these are just a few of the various pressures high school students face every day.
For some, talking about dealing with these pressures can become even more taxing than the pressures themselves.
Thanks to a local organization called SpeakUp!, Holy Ghost Prep students and parents are invited to speak up on Thursday, March 16 at 6 p.m. in the Firebird Fieldhouse about their daily life challenges in a confidential, yet open environment. Breakout sessions will be held to encourage students and adults to speak openly about critical issues, such as anxiety, body image, depression, mental health and other critical topics facing today’s youth.
This event is open to all members of the HGP community. In fact, the more participants we have, the more fruitful the conversations end up being. So even if you have attended a Parent Education Series event this year, please consider coming to this one too. All attendees are strongly encouraged to pre-register for this event.
To pre-register, please click here http://www.speakup.org/2016-2017-events and scroll down to the March 16th HGP event.
HGP's College Guidance department is introducing a new Coffee Talk series this spring to keep parents better informed.
HGP College Guidance introduces new Coffee Talk series for parents
In an effort to provide more information on the college guidance process to Holy Ghost Prep parents throughout the year, the school’s College Guidance department is introducing a new Coffee Talk series this spring.
It will begin as a three-part pilot program this spring, and all three HGP Coffee Talks will take place from 8-8:45 a.m. in the library’s Sager Conference Room.
This spring’s three Coffee Talk topics will be:
March 10: Things to think about if your child wants to play a sport in college (parents of all grades)
Starting from the beginning, we will talk about the NCAA’s three different divisions of college competition (Division I, II and III), eligibility requirements, and statistics on the possibility of playing in college. Session will allow for Q&A. Handouts will include the NCAA manual for families.
March 31: Naviance as a Parent Resource (for current sophomore and junior parents)
Naviance is an underutilized resource for our parents meanwhile it is where the bulk of the work is being done by the student. This session will include the Naviance basics, along with the best use for parents. This session will conclude with a Q&A and parents who need help with their log-in will receive immediate assistance at the end.
April 28: Application Next Steps (for junior parents only)
As we head into summer break, things can be forgotten by September. This session will provide parents with a “checklist” of student next steps/things to think about to include (but not limited to): recommendation letter requests; application next steps; essay next steps; college visits; and testing plan. Q&A will be encouraged. We will include a handout of these topics.
To ensure we have enough space, coffee and snacks, please RSVP using this Google form: https://goo.gl/forms/KNNaUgjbGdeUltlE3
Please contact Bryn Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-639-2101 x 229 if you have any questions.
Ghost Stories is an online newsletter for alumni, parents, and students of Holy Ghost Prep.
HGP senior John McCrane (pictured), a hard-throwing righthander, has elected to play college baseball close to home at University of Sciences, choosing the Devils over Ursinus College and Catholic University.
John McCrane '17: Armed for success
John McCrane ’17 knows the many sacrifices that his mom Melissa has made to send him to Holy Ghost Prep. And he’s also aware of the thousands of miles she piled up on the family’s Nissan Maxima odometer to watch him play Firebird hoops and baseball or to get him out to the All-Star Baseball Academy in Warminster to hone his skills.
The sacrifices have all paid off as McCrane, a hard-throwing righthander, has elected to play college baseball close to home at University of Sciences, choosing the Devils over Ursinus College and Catholic University.
“She means everything to me,” says McCrane. “It was a stretch and a struggle for her to send me here, and I’m excited that she’ll be able to continue to watch me play in college.”
Blessed with a four-seam and two-seam fastball that have been clocked in the mid-to-high 80s as well as a changeup and curveball, McCrane was 2-1 with a 2.66 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 23-2/3 innings last year. When he isn’t on the mound, McCrane will play shortstop, third base or centerfield (wherever his powerful right arm is needed) and will shoulder a significant leadership role for the Holy Ghost Prep baseball team this spring.
“John is a very coachable young man, a team player and a great competitor,” says Holy Ghost manager Vince Rossomando. “He always wants the ball in big moments and is willing to help other guys on the team whenever possible.”
McCrane believes that his experience of being an on-the-court leader for the HGP hoops team this winter will serve him well on the baseball diamond this spring.
“This year, I stepped into a much bigger leadership role in basketball, so I’ll be able to translate that into baseball as a more vocal leader this year with Nolan (Jones) gone,” says McCrane.
Holy Ghost Prep basketball coach Tony Chapman knows firsthand about McCrane’s leadership skills. A pass-first point guard, McCrane never shied away from a tough defensive assignment and always made the players around him better on the court in his two years of starting for Chapman’s varsity basketball team.
“He went into the year as one of a group of seniors from whom I was looking for leadership. And John seemed to emerge as the leader of the team,” says Chapman. “His work ethic and drive for personal success and, even more so, team success is extremely impressive. The University of the Sciences is a getting a wonderful young man first, an outstanding athlete, and an individual who makes the people around him better people.”
University of the Sciences baseball coach Kevin Woodbridge has told McCrane that the velocity on his fastball should consistently rise into the high-80s and low-90s once he spends time in a college weight room and his frame fills out.
Rossomando also believes that McCrane’s best pitching days are ahead of him.
“We’ve always felt that John has such a high ceiling because he is a big kid who is still growing and he understands how to pitch,” says Rossomando. “It would not surprise me if he is consistently throwing in the upper 80s once he gets to the University of Sciences and even harder as he gets older.
“One thing he needs to work on, and already has, is his mound presence. He wants to win every pitch and is such a competitor that he can be too hard on himself at times. The more he relaxes out there (on the mound), the sky is the limit for him.”
McCrane should be armed for success after his playing days are over. He will enroll in the College of the Sciences’ renowned pharmacy program, a seven-year doctorate program that has an impeccable track record for placing its graduates.
“You’re almost guaranteed a job as a pharmacist once you graduate,” says McCrane. “So I’ll go there, work hard and good things will happen, I’m sure.”
Eight members of the Holy Ghost Prep band performed with the All-Catholic band on Sunday, February 19, 2017 at a festival concert at Archbishop Wood High School.
Eight HGP students earn All-Catholic band honors
Eight members of the Holy Ghost Prep band performed with the All-Catholic band on Sunday, February 19, 2017 at a festival concert at Archbishop Wood High School. The students, pictured below who performed with the All-Catholic band, are: Joseph Dryden (baritone saxophone), Michael DiNofa (trumpet), John Wisniewski (trumpet), John Schrenk (clarinet), Matthew Stauffer (percussion), Luigi Galzerano (alto saxophone), and Bryan Quigley (alto saxophone). Also present but not in the photo was Benjamin Gollmer (trombone).
Two students, John Wisniewski and Luigi Galzerano, received four-year participation awards. Two freshmen, Matthew Stauffer and Benjamin Gollmer, were selected for All-Catholic orchestra which will perform on Sunday, March 19, 2017 at Lansdale Catholic High School.
The All-Catholic band consists of 80 students from the archdiocesan and private Catholic high schools in the Philadelphia Archdiocese who are selected by competitive audition each year.
Holy Ghost Prep senior Conor Sablich signed a letter of intent Feb. 24 to play lacrosse for Moravian College.
HGP lacrosse player Conor Sablich signs with Moravian College
With family members, his lacrosse coach Ryan Tessler, athletic director Jim Stewart, HGP principal Jeff Danilak and some of his classmates cheering him on, Holy Ghost Prep senior Conor Sablich signed a letter of intent Feb. 24 to play lacrosse for Moravian College.
“When I visited Moravian, I just felt comfortable there,” says Sablich, who will study accounting in college and plans to attend law school down the road. “It just felt like home.”
Moravian was the right choice for a number of reasons, according to Sablich, who chose the Greyhounds over Washington College, Widener University and Muhlenberg.
Moravian’s Division III lacrosse team, coached by Dave Carty, is in its second year as a varsity sport in 2017 after being a club sport. The Greyhounds went 10-6 last season. The opportunity to get in on the ground floor of building a college program—plus the camaraderie he felt among the Greyhound players during his visits to the school, the picture-postcard beauty of the school’s Bethlehem, Pa. campus, and the proximity to his parents’ home—were all key factors in his decision.
“Moravian gives me the best of both worlds,” says Sablich. “I’m away from home, but I’m close enough that my parents will easily be able to come see me play in college.”
Tessler believes that Moravian landed an excellent two-way player in Sablich, a returning starter at midfield.
“Moravian is getting the consummate teammate in Conor and an extremely hard worker,” says Tessler. “Conor is a great student-athlete who truly represents what HGP is all about when it comes to personal development. He will be a senior leader for our program this year.”
With his college decision behind him, Sablic can focus on his senior season. After advancing to the district playoffs during his freshman and sophomore years, an extremely young Holy Ghost Prep team struggled mightily last spring, winning just one game. But with its entire starting lineup back, Sablich foresees great things for the Firebirds in 2017.
“All of our starters are back from last year,” says Sablic. “Our off-season workouts have been great and everyone is fired up to turn things around. I’m sure other teams are sleeping on us, but we’re hungry to succeed this year and have the talent to do it.”
Says Tessler: “We return 85 percent of our scoring, our goalie, all of our defense and our top face-off option. More importantly, our guys invested time in each other and trained extremely hard to make 2017 a bounce-back year for the Firebirds. The team has truly embodied the ‘One Heart, One Mind’ mentality as we prepare for our spring campaign.”
Father Thomas Nasta '74 (pictured), pastor of Our Lady of Ransom parish in Northeast Philadelphia, celebrated an all-French language Mass on Feb. 28.
Holy Ghost Prep celebrates an all-French Mass
Father Thomas Nasta, pastor of Our Lady of Ransom parish in Northeast Philadelphia, celebrated an all-French language Mass for students in Claudine Nicolay’s sophomore, junior, and senior French classes on Feb. 28.
Nasta, a 1974 Holy Ghost Prep graduate, served as the celebrant of the Mass. Father Nasta thinks that it is important for students studying foreign languages to hear those languages in everyday settings like Mass. Nasta admits that he had to practice the parts of the Mass in French for roughly a week prior to the Feb. 28.
“But it all came back to me,” says Father Nasta. “It was just like riding a bike.”
Students in Mrs. Nicolay’s classes did the readings and the responsorial psalms, all in French.
The all-French Mass went so seamlessly that Mark Whartenby, Holy Ghost Prep’s director of campus ministry, is planning for future all-Latin and all-Spanish Masses.
Holy Ghost Prep's Stephen Stunder '98 (pictured) will be part of an educational panel discussion for HGP parents on March 1 at 7:30 p.m.
HGP to host important March 1 panel discussion on drugs and alcohol
As part of its 2016-17 Parent Education Series, Holy Ghost Prep will host a panel discussion on drugs and alcohol from an emotional, educational, and legal perspective on March 1 at 7:30 p.m. in the dining hall.
This panel discussion is open to all members of the Holy Ghost community.
The panel will consist of Mrs. Lena Marder, former Director of Outpatient Services at Aldie Counseling Center and Director of the Bucks County Drug and Alcohol Council, Pennsylvania State Trooper William Griffith, and Mr. Stephen Stunder '98, Director of Counseling at Holy Ghost Prep.
This panel discussion will mark the fourth event in Holy Ghost Prep’s 2016-17 Parent Education Series—following Dr. Colleen Hanycz, the president of La Salle University, who discussed the importance of developing grit back on Sept. 27, and Dr. Scott Warnock, an associate professor from Drexel University who discussed the integration of educational technology on November 16, and Dr. Phillip Kendall, the Laura H. Carnell Professor of Psychology and director of the Child and Adolescent Anxiety Disorders Clinic at Temple University who discussed the development of the teenage mind on February 8.
Holy Ghost Prep's bowling team continued its 2016-17 dominance as John Schrenk (left) and Ryan Callahan (right) faced one another for the BAL singles title on Feb. 15.
HGP bowls over the competition
Following an undefeated Bicentennial Athletic League (BAL) regular season, Holy Ghost Prep continued its bowl over the competition at the league championships Feb. 15 at the Earl Bowl Lanes in Franconia.
The BAL singles championship turned out to be an all-Holy Ghost affair as junior co-captains John Schrenk and Ryan Callahan both reached the finals. Schrenk edged his teammate and close friend Callahan, 226-170 in the final—capping off a magical league season for the Firebirds as both bowlers took home trophies that day.
“We accomplished just about everything we set out to do. If we had a checklist at the beginning of the season, they’ve checked off just about every box,” says Tom Eckerle. “These guys should be proud of themselves. They made their coaches proud, school proud, and the BAL proud too.”
Not surprisingly, the Firebirds, the dominant force in the BLA this winter, captured the league’s most coveted hardware with Schrenk earning BAL boys Bowler of the Year and Eckerle getting BAL boys Coach of the Year honors.
“Our bowlers have come together and took command of the league from the get-go. This is evident by their undefeated league season,” says Holy Ghost Prep athletic director Jim Stewart.
“To have the Bowler of the Year and Coach of the Year from HGP is truly special. Coach Eckerle is a terrific motivator and keeps the game fun for his players. John Schrenk is a true talent and will only get better. We look forward to watching John succeed even more during his senior season in 2017-18!”
Next up for the Firebirds will be Eastern Regionals in Lancaster in early March. Holy Ghost has qualified as a team and will also have four individuals competing in the singles competition: seniors Dan Reifsnyder and John Wisniewski, along with the duo who met for the BAL singles title (Schrenk and Callahan).
Holy Ghost Prep sophomore Jack Pinkstone recently built a fully-functioning prosthetic hand for a child. He plans to teach other HGP students how to do it in order to assist more children in need.
Lending a helping hand
When Holy Ghost Prep sophomore Jack Pinkstone recently showed him the fully-functioning prosthetic hand he had built in his spare time, Mike Jacobs ’01 was equal parts surprised and yet not surprised.
“I was shocked by how great the hand looked and functioned,” said Jacobs, HGP’s director of technology. “But I was not surprised at all that Jack put something like this together.”
Pinkstone’s parents showed their son an article about Dr. Chris Craft, a STEM teacher in South Carolina who had issued a challenge to kids across the country to build prosthetic hands for children in need. To read more about Dr. Craft’s Hand Challenge, click here.
The project was tailor-made for Pinkstone, who became interested in STEM projects as an eighth grader at Pennwood Middle School in Pennsbury. In order to feed that passion, Pinkstone bought his own 3-D printer kit a couple years ago, built that printer himself, and has continually upgraded that printer by making new parts for it on you guessed it, that very same printer.
“I had used the 3-D printer to make fun objects,” said Pinkstone. “But my parents showed me that article and I immediately realized that I could use my 3-D printer and design skills to help children in need. And it was a fun service-type project too.”
After reading the article, Pinkstone went to the website and bought the prosthetic hand kit online for 25 dollars, then downloaded and printed the parts to the hand and then assembled the hand.
“It comes with strings, wires and tips and you have to put it together,” said Pinkstone. “There are videos online to show you how to assemble each piece of the hand. It took about 10 hours to print out all of the parts and then about 90 minutes to two hours for me to assemble the hand.”
The prosthetic hand is triggered by the wrist. Once the wrist moves, the fingers clench together. The kit comes with Velcro and foam, so that the hand can be attached to the child in need’s arm.
Now that he’s successfully completed and mailed off his first hand, Pinkstone and Jacobs have bigger plans in mind. They plan to team up work with Holy Ghost Prep’s director of campus ministry Mark Whartenby and math/science teacher Mike Pappadakis to assemble a team of HGP students to build even more prosthetic hands. Dr. Craft, the founder of the Hand Challenge, offers a $10 discount for schools who build hands. So the total cost per hand would be roughly 20 dollars ($15 to purchase the kit and $5 for the filament), according to Pinkstone.
“Jack is obviously blessed with engineering, science, and math skills. And those 21st century skills that we often talk about developing here at Holy Ghost—critical thinking, communications and collaboration skills, and creative problem solving skills—Jack has those in spades.
“If we start this club, the kids can get some community service hours and Jack can develop some leadership skills by teaching other HGP students how to build the hands. It’s important, in my opinion, that Holy Ghost Prep helps Jack over the next couple years to grown into a leader.”
In addition to the growth of his leadership skills, Jacobs is excited to witness what Pinkstone will accomplish once Holy Ghost Prep completes the first phase of building a STEM Tower in Cornwells Hall this summer with the conversion of the lower level classroom and storage area (approximately 2,000 square feet) into a state-of-the-art maker space.
“That will be the perfect learning space for Jack and other students like him,” says Jacobs.
Starting this April, Pinkstone will undoubtedly be one of the leaders of Holy Ghost Prep’s new Vex Robotics team that will be coached by Pappadakis and new computer science instructor Brandon Petcaugh. Pinkstone has competed for a First Robotics team for three years now, but looks forward to building HGP’s team.
“Competing in First Robotics, I’ve learned CAD (Computer-Aided Design), website management, and how to code and wire the robots,” says Pinkstone. “And I’ve also printed out parts for the robots on my 3-D printer and installed them.”
Another one of Pinkstone’s outside-the-classroom hobbies is Codec Films, the videography production company that he founded along with fellow HGP students Matt Davies and Ted Ciarciello. The trio has done several projects for Holy Ghost Prep—including an aerial drone tour of the campus and a Class of 2020 freshman orientation video—and have used that high-quality work to land outside clients including Grey Nun Academy, a Pre-K through 8th grade school in Yardley, and St. Andrew Catholic Church in Newtown, Pa.
“Nothing Jack does really shocks me anymore,” says Jacobs. “He’s got a rare skill set."
Nine members of the Holy Ghost Prep chorus performed with the All-Catholic Chorus on Sunday, February 5th at Bishop Shanahan High School.
Nine HGP students earn All-Catholic Chorus honors
Nine members of the Holy Ghost Prep chorus performed with the All-Catholic Chorus on Sunday, February 5th at Bishop Shanahan High School. The guest conductor for the weekend festival was Jayne Glocke from Pennsylvania State University.
Two Holy Ghost students, Noah Tapp and David Connuck, received awards for four years of participation in All-Catholic Chorus. Senior Charles Lawall was chosen as a soloist.
“It should be noted that the All-Catholic Chorus is an ensemble with 100 students, 50 of whom are boys,” said Beth Vilsmeier, the music director at Holy Ghost Prep. “Holy Ghost, with nine students (selected), represents a significant percentage of the singers.”
The HGP members who earned All-Catholic Corus honors were Noah Tapp, Charles Lawall, Brandon Cimino, Collin Cimino, Patrick Oniate, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jeffrey DiFrancesco, David Connuck, and Patrick Byrnes.
John Burke is one of four freshmen students who are attending Holy Ghost Prep through the Maguire Independent Schools Scholars program—the others being Nicholas LaRosa, Shane Love, and Joseph Tufo.
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.”
Holy Ghost Prep's speech and debate team performed extremely well at the 42nd annual University of Pennsylvania Tournament.
HGP’s forensics team enjoys strong showing at Penn
Holy Ghost Prep’s young speech and debate team appears to be peaking at just the right time.
At this past weekend’s 42nd annual University of Pennsylvania Tournament, juniors Luke Muller and Colin Landers took home first place in duo interpretation.
“I’m proud of their focus, dedication, attitude,” says Tony Figliola, who has run the highly successful forensics program for decades. “They understand process and they have talent.”
In addition, junior Jacob Riti finished third in original oratory, while junior Shane McHugh and senior Brian Gabriele were semifinalists in the congressional debate and dramatic interpretation categories, respectively.
Other impressive performances were turned in by senior Albert Wilson (quarterfinalist in extemporaneous speaking), sophomore Matt Davies (quarterfinalist in humorous interpretation) and the team of senior Jon Mann and junior Mason El-Habr (a top-16 finish out of 150 teams in varsity public forum debate)
“For the most part, we are building from the ground up. So when Albert Ramirez makes a varsity final round, and it’s just his second tournament, things are looking great for next year,” says Figliola of his young team.
“When kids here try out for the basketball team, they know how to dribble and shoot. We have to start with the basics. Sometimes, it takes months just getting new members to stand still! But when they experience their ‘ah-ha’ moments, it's all worthwhile.”
Holy Ghost Prep welcomed Dr. Phillip Kendall (pictured), the Laura H. Carnell Professor of Psychology at Temple University, to discuss the development of the teenage mind on Wednesday, February 8, 2017.
HGP hosted expert on the development of the teenage mind
As part of its 2016-17 Parent Education Series, Holy Ghost Prep welcomed Dr. Phillip Kendall, the Laura H. Carnell Professor of Psychology and director of the Child and Adolescent Anxiety Disorders Clinic at Temple University, to discuss the development of the teenage mind on Wednesday, February 8, 2017.
Kendall's visit offered parents the chance to learn about teen depression and anxiety from one of the area’s leading experts on the subject. Dr. Kendall provided HGP parents with a window into the teenage psyche in hopes of closing the gap between the teenager and parent.
Dr. Kendall is an active researcher, scholar and clinician. His CV lists over 450 publications, including over 30 books, and over 20 treatment manuals and workbooks. His treatment programs have been translated into dozens of languages, and he has had over 30 years of uninterrupted grant support from various agencies. Having received many thousands of citations per year, he placed among an elite handful of the most “highly cited” individuals in all of the social and medical sciences. In a recent quantitative analysis of the publications by and citations to all members of the faculty in the 157 American Psychological Association approved programs in clinical psychology, Dr. Kendall ranked fifth.
Dr. Kendall has garnered prestigious awards: Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, inaugural Research Recognition Award from the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, “Great Teacher” award from Temple University, identified as a “top therapist” in the tri-state area by Philadelphia Magazine, and a named chair and Distinguished University Professorship at Temple University.
Dr. Kendall was the third speaker in Holy Ghost Prep’s 2016-17 Parent Education Series—following Dr. Colleen Hanycz, the president of La Salle University, who discussed the importance of developing grit back on Sept. 27, and Dr. Scott Warnock, an associate professor from Drexel University who discussed the integration of educational technology on November 16.
Seven former Holy Ghost Prep student-athletes were inducted into HGP Athletic Hall of Fame on Saturday, January 28 at the Maltese Room in Bensalem. (photo by Don Otto/Catalano Studio)
Getting their Hall pass
Seven former Holy Ghost Prep student-athletes were inducted into HGP Athletic Hall of Fame on Saturday, January 28 at the Maltese Room in Bensalem.
The event drew the biggest crowd in the history of the HGP Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony, according to athletic director Jim Stewart. Each new HGP Hall of Famer receives a plaque and a Hall of Fame scarf and is presented for induction by a coach or classmate.
The seven former standouts that comprise the 2017 HGP Athletic Hall of Fame induction class are:
Vince Drybala ’72, track and field
Bill Blesi ’95, soccer
Nelson Redante ’95, baseball
Grant Holdren ’99, basketball and baseball
Dennis Murray ’06, lacrosse
Nick Seravalli ’08, ice hockey
Joe Gunerman ’10, golf
In addition, Holy Ghost Prep’s 1970 P.C.I.A.A. track and field championship team was recognized as a “Team of Distinction” at the ceremony.
Led by returning first-team All-Bicentennial League (BAL) performers John Schrenk (pictured) and Ryan Callahan, the Holy Ghost Prep bowling team won its first league title in three years.
HGP’s bowling team is on a roll
Led by a pair of returning first-team All-Bicentennial League (BAL) performers in co-captains John Schrenk and Ryan Callahan, the Holy Ghost Prep bowling team currently sports an impressive 13-1 overall record, including a perfect 11-0 mark in the BAL.
With its 3-1 defeat of Devon Prep on February 1, HGP clinched the school's first league crown in three years.
Tom Eckerle’s BAL title-winning team is guaranteed a spot in the Eastern Regionals in March, thanks in large part to the tremendous skill and leadership of the team’s dynamic captain duo of Schrenk and Callahan, both juniors.
Schrenk will be honored as the Bucks County Courier Times Athlete of the Week on Feb. 6 for his clutch performances in a week during which Schrenk averaged 215 in three matches, and an even higher 236 average in matches against league rivals Bristol High School and Dock Mennonite School. His 737 series against Dock included games with eye-popping scores of 242, 226 and 269. The 737 series is believed to be a school and BAL record.
“John shows tremendous leadership in how he deals with success and adversity. He is always trying to help younger/less experienced bowlers,” says Eckerle, an HGP social studies teacher who coaches the Firebirds. “He wants nothing more than for the team to have success. He finished second in the BAL averages last year and in our BAL singles tournament, so this has been building. But he has taken his game to stratospheric levels at times this year.”
Like Schrenk, Callahan is in his second year as one of the Firebirds' bowling co-captains.
“The two of them (Schrenk and Callahan) are very good pals,” says Eckerle. “Callahan is California cool and is second only to Schrenk in the BAL in average. Both guys lead by scores as well as by example and dedication.”
In addition to Schrenk and Callahan, the HGP bowling team also features a third returning all-league performer in senior John Wisniewski. He earned second-team All-BAL honors in 2016 and is currently fifth in the BAL in average. If that weren’t enough firepower on one team, HGP’s Dan Reifsnyder is currently 11th in the BAL in average.
Holy Ghost Prep hired Brandon Petcaugh as a computer science teacher, effective February 6th.
HGP hires Brandon Petcaugh as a computer science teacher
Holy Ghost Prep hired Brandon Petcaugh as a computer science teacher, effective February 6th. He joined Holy Ghost from New Foundations Charter School where he served as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) coordinator, computer science teacher and robotics moderator.
For the remainder of the year, Petcaugh will work alongside Mike Jacobs and Mike Pappadakis in several different computer science classes.
"With his extensive experiences in Project Lead the Way, Brandon will help grow our computer science department, STEM initiatives, as well as with our robotics classes and club," says Holy Ghost Prep principal Jeff Danilak. "Brandon will be a great fit as he helps round out our computer science team."
The HGP chess team sits atop the Lower Bucks County Scholastic (LBCS) Chess League. The Firebirds lead the league in total boards won, notching 32 wins in their 35 total chess matches.
Holy Ghost Prep enjoys chess success
One of Holy Ghost Prep’s successful teams doesn’t play on a court or a field. And it doesn’t compete in front of hundreds of loud, screaming Firebird fans either.
This championship-caliber team plays a classic board game, where strategic knowledge, commitment, and perseverance have guided it to success in a relatively short period of time.
Following its 5-0 win over Father Judge on Jan. 26, the Holy Ghost chess team sits atop the Lower Bucks County Scholastic (LBCS) Chess League. The Firebirds lead the league in total boards won, notching 32 wins in their 35 total chess matches.
Coached by HGP teacher Tom Murtaugh, the members of the chess team are Tom Barbaro (team captain), Andrew Somogyi, David DeAngelo, Tom Xiao, Matt Young, Owen Sienko, and Dino Cerquetelli. The team’s season runs from mid-November through mid-March, and the Firebirds have one match per week (10 regular season matches) and also practice once a week.
Nine years ago, Murtaugh was approached by an enthusiastic student named John Ciecka, who wanted to re-establish a chess club at HGP.
“He came in the next day with chess sets he purchased himself,” Murtaugh recalls. “We ran a tournament that year among students and faculty and (HGP principal) Mr. (Jeff) Danilak even competed.
“Chess remained a casual intramural school activity until last school year when we joined the LBCS Chess League. Once again, our decision to join the league was driven by an enthusiastic student, Tom Barbaro, who came to HGP as an experienced chess competitor. He has been a great team leader sharing his expertise with his fellow teammates.”
Murtaugh sees real-life benefits for the HGP students competing on his chess team.
“The main benefits of playing chess for other aspects of life would be strategic thinking and problem solving which are 21st century skills that are becoming increasingly valued in today’s changing job market and also skills we try to instill in all of our students at Holy Ghost,” says Murtaugh.
Ghost Stories is an online newsletter for alumni, parents, and students of Holy Ghost Prep.