COAL TOWNSHIP - Dr. Henry Fesniak, a cardiologist at Geisinger Medical Center, recently spent time with the students and faculty of his alma mater, Our Lady of Lourdes Regional School, hoping to bridge the gap between academics and the problem-solving skills necessary for success in the real world. Fesniak plans additional visits to the school during brief vacations from his professional responsibilities.

"The spirit of Lourdes is alive and well," stated Fesniak, a member of the class of 1976. Fesniak spent one day recently teaching biology, anatomy and physiology, chemistry and physics at the high school. "Overall, I found these young Lourdes scholars to be organized, polite, attentive and thirsting for challenge," he said.

"The tools to educate and to learn are incredibly advanced compared to 40 years ago, but so are the social obstacles the students must negotiate," Fesniak noted. "What differentiates the learning environment at Lourdes from many others are the values which the school openly embraces. The students stand to be led in prayer several times daily, reminding them of their responsibility to work diligently and to perform well, giving account to their God as well their teachers and families."

A series of lectures are under way at Lourdes emphasizing the necessity of a solid background in mathematics and science, which are relevant to many of the students' career choices.

"The mantra established by the Lourdes faculty is learning through inquiry, and I wholeheartedly support this," said Fesniak. "But I also want to be certain that the students have the skills, tools and mentoring to pursue their areas of interest at a level far above that traditionally achieved in secondary education."

Additional conference topics in health as well as career planning, for both the students and their parents during "after school hours" are under development by Fesniak and his colleagues.