COAL TOWNSHIP - Enrollment is up 21 percent this school year at the Northumberland County Career and Technology Center (NCCTC).

There are 165 students enrolled from Line Mountain, Mount Carmel Area and Shamokin Area school districts as well as Our Lady of Lourdes Regional School - 34 more students than last year. Forty-two are full-time, 116 attend half-day and seven attend for one or two individual classes daily. Classes begin Sept. 2.

James F. Monaghan, administrative director, said the boosted enrollment is a result of aggressive promotion of the center's 11 programs by the faculty and staff. They've been advertising twice weekly in The News-Item and also meeting face-to-face with students at their home districts, which he credited for their support.

"And most importantly, parents encouraging their children to look at where the jobs are after graduation," Monaghan said in explaining the increase.

Sixty-seven students come from Mount Carmel Area, 25 from Line Mountain and two from Lourdes Regional. Shamokin Area has 71 enrollees, including seven in an exploratory program. Those students will take classes for one or two periods daily. Monaghan said it could replace a study hall for an upperclassman, or perhaps serve as an elective.

The program began last year in a joint effort with the district's guidance counselors and Traci Beck, the center's program coordinator, to determine if students could mesh one or two classes daily at NCCTC with their schedule at Shamokin Area.

Pharmacy program

One student is participating in the new pharmacy technician cooperative program with Geisinger Health System, allowing him to get hands-on experience inside a hospital pharmacy. Similar opportunities are available for hospital maintenance and nursing.

Nearly $59,000 in state grant funding was awarded for the purchase of equipment.

A Hoyer patient lift and a patient simulator were purchased for the health occupations program. Students of the auto body/collision repair program will use an air bag trainer to learn how to remove and install vehicle air bags. A Combi Oven was purchased for the culinary arts program, and a modern Hunter alignment system was purchased for the automotive technology program allowing students to be trained in all aspects of suspension and alignment.

Ernest Salamone is the center's lone new staff member this school year. He was hired to instruct in heating ventilation air conditioning.

Additional cameras were added to the center's existing surveillance system. The main entrance is now equipped with video, audio and a buzzer system.