COAL TOWNSHIP - A $500,000 bequest is being used to make some much-needed improvements to the building and grounds at Our Lady of Lourdes Regional School this summer.

New energy-efficient windows have been installed in 30 classrooms, replacing those from the original construction in 1959, and the parking lot has had potholes filled and the surface double-sealed.

Joseph C. Leopold, a devout member of Our Lady of Hope Parish who attended St. Joseph's School, a former elementary feeder school for Lourdes, required that his gift be used for building improvements. Although he never had any children of his own, he supported the Catholic education of his nieces and nephews and was a strong supporter of family values.

Leopold died in 2006, and Lourdes received his bequest in 2010.

"We are going to have an estimated $20,000 savings in heating costs this winter" because of the new windows, Deacon Martin McCarthy, principal, said Tuesday.

He said the school may study the addition of air conditioning next year, but will wait to see how much the new windows help.

The windows have been installed and work is completed outside, but framing and drywall work continues inside.

Zartman Construction is doing the window installation.

As for the parking lot, the sealing work was done by Collier Paving Company.

"Let's face it, it was horrible. Now everything is looking sharp," said Jacqueline Kerris, director of development.

More work scheduled

Work won't end with the summer, McCarthy said.

"In the fall we are going to put together a committee of alumni and interested professionals to raise money to completely redo the chemistry and biology labs into modern classrooms," he said.

Anyone interested should call the school at 570-644-0375.

Lourdes will also be taking part in a Middle States accreditation review in December to start a three-year process to turn the library into a media/technology center.

McCarthy also noted that the curtains on the stage in the gymnatorium will be replaced in September and Lourdes is looking to tear down two sections of bleachers at the athletic field at the rear of the school that are falling into disrepair and are not needed.

"That would open that area up again," McCarthy said.

Also new at the school is a Community Aid drop box for used clothing and small household items. Community Aid, which has a large thrift store in Hummels Wharf, gives the school four cents for every pound of clothing placed in the drop box. The money is given back to the school in the form of gifts cards to be distributed to needy Lourdes families and students.

The school's faculty room has also seen improvements with a donation of furniture, carpeting and tables from John Shimock of Shimock's Furniture, Kulpmont.

Our Lady of Lourdes is gearing up for its annual Raiderfest Aug. 16 and the Raiderfest 5K run Aug. 23.

The public is welcome to see the improvements on those days.