On a recent school day at Our Lady of Lourdes Regional in Coal Township, Raegan Spaid colored a page of pictures representing the letter H. In the classroom next door Lukas Behr followed dot-to-dot numbers to draw a fox, and outside on the school’s field, Estelle Losiewicz spread out a blanket and joined classmates in spelling and exercises.
The pre-kindergarten and kindergarten programs at the Northumberland County school are flourishing, and so are the students.
When they enrolled the oldest of their three children, Leo, now a fourth-grader, in the Pre-K program, Nathaniel and Kelly Anne Losiewicz said their expectations for his education “were considerably basic: ABCs and 1, 2, 3s.”
“The reality is that our children learned so much more than we ever expected while in Pre-K and K,” Kelly Anne said. “Our children, when in the Pre-K and K program, would recite prayers, count by twos, fives and tens, read, write, tell time, count money, identify plants and the stages of a butterfly, and make friends that they would move through school with as they got older.”
“More than all of that though, our children became part of the Our Lady of Lourdes family and so did we,” she added. Daughter Stella is in kindergarten and their other son, Ozscar, is in third grade. “We love that our children know every teacher by name and that the teachers know them, too. Everyone at Lourdes is invested in the safety and success of our children and that began at the first visit to the Pre-K program.”
The Pre-K program is for students who are four years old entering the school year; Kindergarten accept children who are five years of age at the start of the school year.
Matthew and Kristy Renn enrolled Gaven, Braxton and Baylee – now in seventh, fifth and second grade – at the children’s request.
Sending them to Lourdes for their education was “an easy decision because our kids came to us and asked to go and visit the school,” they told The Catholic Witness. After the visit was over, they asked if they could start the next day. We of course said yes, and we are so happy we did. Our children are very important and we value their decisions and happiness.”
“They have told us they love their school, teachers and faculty and have made many friends,” the Renns said. “They love the smaller environment and the values that are taught, and we can see this in their daily lives. They have developed a wonderful relationship with God, and are just surpassing our expectations. They’ve become very sociable and enjoy that the faculty treats them like family.”
A faith-based education supported in a family-like atmosphere is a hallmark of Catholic schools, and the same applies at Lourdes Regional, where students in Pre-K through grade 12 come together for Masses, pep rallies and other schoolwide liturgies and events.
“Our Lady of Lourdes has offered a home away from home for our children. It is a school where everyone belongs, and everyone’s talents and strengths are appreciated and reciprocated,” Kelly Anne said. “Lourdes is a school where all three of my children feel they can be themselves and have the support of the students and the faculty behind them. Our teachers work with our children and celebrate their accomplishments as equally as they celebrate the efforts being made on the journey to those accomplishments. The teachers, the staff members and the faculty all share a level of care for the students that sets Lourdes apart from other schools. It sets them apart because children are able to learn and thrive in an environment that feels safe and that makes them feel important and capable.”
Lauren Krebs, the mother of two girls at Lourdes – kindergartener Kieran and third grader Kyleigh – celebrates her daughters’ growth because of their education.
“Kieran was never a shy little girl, however, over the past year she has become a leader. A few times this year she has led groups of kids in activities on her own, one even being a prayer circle. She has begun to read, write small sentences and her vocabulary has improved,” Lauren said.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better school to send my girls to,” she remarked. “They’ve learned so much over the few years they have attended. Kyleigh started reading in first grade and Kieran is already reading in kindergarten. Learning about religion was a major reason I decided to send them to Lourdes. These children at Lourdes learn respect, manners, socialization skills and so much more. I am very appreciative and thankful to the staff at Lourdes. They go above and beyond for the kids and the parents. I am very thankful to have Lourdes in our community!”
The parents also expressed gratitude for the school’s ability and dedication to the students’ continued education during the pandemic. They recognize it’s no small task to adapt to the demands of COVID-19 safety protocols.
“This year, and for a portion of last year school, Lourdes has been forced to accommodate not only the basic needs of students but to do so during a global pandemic. Luckily, our Lourdes teachers have gone above and beyond to keep the classroom fun, even if it is sometimes virtual,” Kelly Anne said. “With the chaos of COVID, school became a welcomed constant for our 5-year-old. She has mastered Zoom, Google Classroom, Skyping, and interacting through her Chromebook. Her reading has improved immensely, as has her number skills and ability to identify patterns. She has matured so much over this year.”
“Lourdes is a top-notch Catholic school that has many wonderful things to offer,” the Renns said. “We are so happy our children are blessed enough to attend this school. The values, friendships and activities are just a few to mention. The elementary principal (Sister Maureen Donati) and the high school principal (Sister Mary Anne Bednar) are amazing. They greet the children daily and are always so positive. They encourage them and talk to them on their level. We will be thankful and blessed until all of our children graduate from this wonderful school.”
The school currently has two Pre-K and two Kindergarten classes. Registration is now open; visit www.lourdes.k12.pa.us or call 570.644.0375.
(Photos by Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness.)
By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness