By Justin Strawser

COAL TOWNSHIP - Shamokin resident Glenda Bonetti sends her 7-year-old son to Our Lady of Lourdes Regional School for many reasons, including an individualized education.

The mother of first grade student Brady Bonetti was one of nearly 100 parents who attended the open house and new student registration day Sunday afternoon at the Coal Township School.

"They are dedicated to education," she said.

Furthermore, she has no issues whatsoever when attempting to contact teachers, and the staff know who each student and each parent is.

"They don't teach the test. They teach the basics: reading, writing and arithmetic," she said.

Lourdes Principal Deacon Martin McCarthy said there were student ambassadors from seventh through 12th taking parents around on tours through the classrooms, library, computer room and cafeteria between 1 and 3 p.m. All faculty was available, too.

At 2 p.m., there was also a presentation in the gymnasium concerning the Neumann Scholarships for the 2013-14 school year.

The Neumann Scholarship Foundation of the Harrisburg Diocese awarded Lourdes with $246,213, which was made possible through a homegrown effort to recruit businesses to participate in a state tax credit program - Pennsylvania Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program - that directly benefits a school of choice.

Based on the combined average tuition paid for elementary and high school students, the money could offset full cost of tuition for nearly 85 students in 2013-14.

Tony Varano Jr., a business professional and Lourdes alumnus, helped lead the effort for the Catholic school to benefit from a decade-old program that expanded under Gov. Tom Corbett's administration.

Elementary Principal Sister Margaret Ann Quinn addressed the parents in the gymnasium, taking them through the process of filling out the application and answering any questions. To fill out an application, it costs $25 per family.

The amount of tuition relief will be based on income level and will be distributed to families throughout the next two years, Quinn said.

"It's an excellent opportunity to give your child a Catholic education," she said. McCarthy encouraged parents to take advantage of the funding.

"Don't be too proud. If you are eligible, please fill out the application, he said. "It's free money toward your tuition."

For pre-kindergarten, tuition will be $2,600 a year; for kindergarten through eighth grade, it's $2,200 a year; and for high school, it's $3,800 a year.

Parents are welcome to meet with administration to discuss enrollment and the application for tuition relief, McCarthy said.

Even though they have two years to use the money, McCarthy said they have individuals lining up businesses to continue to grow the program after this particular money is used.

Good education, safe environments, small classes and excellent teachers make Lourdes great, he said.

McCarthy said the school is expected to have nearly 400 students next year.

In order to provide individual attention, enrollment is limited and early registration is encouraged. Registration for the 2013-14 school year began Jan. 1.

For more information on the scholarship, e-mail OLOLinfo@supportlourdes.org.