Quadruplets, known as the ‘Burke Bunch,’ graduating from N.J. high school

When the Burke quadruplets started kindergarten, it was big news in their Sussex County hometown.

The local paper ran the story, along with a picture of the four siblings — three girls and boy — with their arms around each other in class in matching t-shirts with their names across the front.

Now, more than a decade later, the quadruplets are making news again as they prepare to graduate from high school.

The “Burke Bunch,” as their family calls them, grew up going to school side by side in their Vernon Township school district. Morgan, Jimmy, Shannon and Lindsey, now 18, are scheduled to graduate together in identical Vernon Township High School graduation robes on Thursday.

“It’s like built-in best friends,” said Monae Burke, the quadruplets’ mother. “They didn’t have to start school by themselves. They had a buddy with them.”

The four siblings say they’ve never known anything else.

“I don’t know what it’s like not being a quadruplet, so I guess it seems normal for me,” Morgan said. “And then sometimes I forget that other people don’t have siblings the same age as them.”

Being in the same school — and, often, in the same classes — has come with its perks, the siblings said. They support one another whenever one sibling needs help with studying, said Jimmy Burke.

“There’s four of us and classes you have to take and everything,” Jimmy said. “You’ll always have someone that you know.”

The quadruplets were not the only multiples in their class of 259 students Vernon Township High School. There’s also a set of twins graduating this year, school officials said.

As the “Burke Bunch” grew up together, the four siblings each developed their own talents.

Morgan spends her time studying music. She plays the piano, drums, harmonica, trumpet, trombone, clarinet and flute, among other instruments.

Jimmy has a passion for history. He also spends his free time learning how to fix old machines. His current project of him is repairing an eight-track tape player.

Shannon loves learning Spanish, and is teaching herself Japanese as well. She also taught herself how to play the bass, and played in her high school’s jazz band.

Lindsey spends her time focusing on languages ​​and robotics. She’s learning Arabic, and has taught herself Russian and Portuguese.

“When she plays games online she communicates with (other players) in their language that she teaches herself,” her mother said.

The quadruplets said they plan on turning their passions into careers. Morgan hopes to use her musical talent to become a band director at a high school. Jimmy plans to go to law school after college. Shannon hopes to fuse business with her passion for Spanish. Lindsey plans to have a career in robotics.

From left to right, Morgan, Jimmy, Shannon and Lindsey pose for their high school graduation.Courtesy of the ‘Burke Bunch’

All four quadruplets ranked among the top 15 students in their class, Monae Burke said. They qualified for the New Jersey Student Tuition Assistance Reward Scholarship (NJ STARS) program, which provides free community college tuition for high-achieving students.

Morgan, Jimmy and Shannon plan to attend Sussex County Community College before transferring to a four-year university, they said.

Cornell University accepted Lindsey and offered to cover the academic costs, her mother said. But since room and board costs were too expensive, Lindsey decided to attend the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark, which offered her a full-ride scholarship.

Monae Burke said she’s both nervous and excited about Lindsey, who was diagnosed with autism, attending NJIT. She will be attending school without her siblings for the first time.

“It’ll be the first time that one of them will be missing from the pack,” she said.

But she thinks Lindsey will do great as the first of the quadruplets who starts the next chapter of her life on her own.

“I think she’s going to do fantastic because she’s excited about going and she’s going to be surrounded by computers and robotics, and that’s what she loves,” she said.

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Camille Furst may be reached at [email protected]. Find her on Twitter @CamilleFurst.

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