TOWANDA -

On Sunday, St. Agnes School in Towanda held its annual Promise Tree Auction, which features items donated by businesses, parents and alumni, such as home-delivered meals, rounds of golf, and babysitting services.

At this year's Promise Tree Auction, the 36 items up for auction included an authentic pinata and a cocktail party donated by a family, said school Principal Sandra Kasenga.

The auction was one of several activities that were held at the school on Sunday to help kick off Catholic Schools Week, a national celebration of the role Catholic schools play in educating America's young people.

The school on Sunday held an open house; started its week-long Scholastic Book Fair, which offers hundreds of books for sale to the public at affordable prices; and held a ziti and meatballs dinner, according to information from the school.

The Promise Tree Auction, which was run this year by local DJ Bob Brenner, "has always been a lot of fun," Kasenga said.

"We get some competitive bidders out there" who, from having attended past Promise Tree auctions, expect that certain parents or alumni will donate a particular item that they want to bid on, she said.

Attending the open house was Jenni Lane, a teacher in the Towanda School District who is planning to enroll her daughter in St. Agnes School's pre-kindergarten program for three-year-olds next year.

She said it's hard to find a preschool program for three-year-olds in the area.

"I don't know that there are that many," she said.

She said she wants to enroll her daughter in the program to get her started in socialization and used to school-related routines, such as getting up in the morning and going to school.

St. Agnes School alumna Sara Nash, who also teaches in the Towanda School District, said she is planning to enroll one of her children in the school's pre-kindergarten program for four-year-olds next year. She said that all the parents she has talked to whose children attended St. Agnes School's pre-kindergarten program said they loved going there.

The auction, which is now in its third or fourth year, raises $2,000 to $3,000 annually for the school, while the ziti dinner raises hundreds of dollars more, Kasenga said.

Other activities that will take place at St. Agnes School this week, as part of Catholic Schools Week, include:

- "Service Day" will take place on Tuesday, where students will bring in items to be donated to the Ronald McDonald House.

- On Wednesday, "Thank You! Day" will take place, where students will write notes to community members who have helped the school in the past.

- On Thursday, "Get up and Move! Day" takes place where, at times throughout the day, music will be played. "When the music starts to play, the students will get up and dance," Kasenga said.

- On Friday, "Celebration Day" will be held, where students and teachers will play games, and ice cream sundaes will be served in the afternoon.

The school's students are also performing "Alice in Wonderland" at 7 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday at the Keystone Theatre.

This year, the school purchased over 20 laptop computers, which will replace the last of the school's old desktop computers, Kasenga said.

The laptops are preferable because desktop computers take up a lot of space and cannot be moved, she said. Another advantage of laptops is that most kids can now run an iPad, which uses a touch screen and which is also a feature found in laptop computers, she said.

"Laptops are easier for them to use," she said.

James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: jloewenstein@thedailyreview.com.