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Over 90% of our graduates complete high school within four years, in a city with an on-time high school graduation rate that hovers around 65%.

2017 Gesu Spirit Medalists Announced!

Gesu School is honored to announce James F. Higgins ’45 and H. Chase Lenfest as our 2017 Gesu Spirit Medalists, Gesu’s highest honor. James F. Higgins ’45 and H. Chase Lenfest will be recognized at the 2017 Gesu Gala on May 11, 2017, for their extraordinary dedication to Gesu School.

James F. Higgins ’45  

Jim Higgins has been associated with Gesu School for more than 70 years. After transferring to Gesu in 1940, Jim thrived in a new educational environment that individualized learning and instruction. This was the start of a lifelong love for and dedication to the school. Jim fondly recalls the priests at the parish and the sisters at the school, who invested in him and taught him the value of hard work and generosity. After graduating from Gesu in 1945, Jim went on to attend Saint Joseph’s Prep and Saint Joseph’s University, where he earned a degree in accounting.

Following school, Jim served as a Marine, and later began working for Hillside Capital. Jim reconnected with the Church of the Gesu and Gesu School when he was asked to plan a parish reunion, which attracted more than 1,500 individuals. When he learned that Fr. Bur needed support to turn Gesu into an independent school, Jim reached out to assist. In 1993, he joined the new school’s board as its first treasurer. Today, Jim teaches at Holy Family University and continues to serve on Gesu’s board and committees, offering his unwavering support. Jim is one of Gesu’s biggest champions and is always spreading the word about the impact of the school on its students and the community.

H. Chase Lenfest

H. Chase Lenfest, a well-respected entrepreneur and philanthropist, has been supporting multiple programs at Gesu School for nearly two decades. The profound impact Chase has on Gesu’s children includes not only financial support through four annual Sponsor a Child scholarships and participation in Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit program, but also his active engagement in the lives and education of our students. “Dedication” aptly describes Chase’s relationship with Gesu. Despite his busy schedule at the helm of several companies, there is rarely a scholarship breakfast or luncheon where he cannot be found immersed in lively conversation or an intense game of Connect Four with students!

Gesu School fits within the mission of Chase’s varied and impactful philanthropic endeavors. He is the Founder and President of The H. Chase Lenfest Foundation, Inc., which provides financial support for programs that positively impact children’s lives in Philadelphia’s impoverished areas. In 2006, Chase also built The Lenfest Center, a 50,000 square foot facility in North Philadelphia, which offers a safe and enriching venue for youth and families. Chase’s commitment to making a better life for children in the inner city and his loyal dedication to Gesu School exemplifies the true meaning of the Spirit Medal.

The Gesu Spirit Medal honors individuals who have shown extraordinary commitment to Gesu School through their loyal advocacy and actions, and who have made a significant contribution to Gesu School’s success as a model inner-city elementary school.

For event information and Sponsor / Patron opportunities, please visit

Event Contact: Sarah Stirzel Cuzzolina, Director of Annual Giving, 215-763-9077 or