Energy Express virtual program enrollment open
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Energy Express, an award-winning summer reading and nutrition program for children living in West Virginia’s rural and low-income communities, will continue this year, despite the interruption of normal activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The program falls under the auspices of the West Virginia University Extension Service.
For the 2020 session, the program will be virtual, with students learning and interacting from home rather than at the school site.
Energy Express gives more than 3,000 children statewide an opportunity to maintain reading levels during the summer months through creative uses of art, drama and vocabulary.
“Jefferson County will host a virtual site at North Jefferson Elementary School this year. The virtual aspect is a major change this year,” said Amanda Johnson, WVU Extension Service Jefferson County 4-H and Youth Development agent.
According to Johnson, there is space for 120 children in this year’s virtual program, compared to previous years’ programs, which only have room for 40 students. Along with this positive element, the virtual program will be saving Jefferson County Schools money this summer, as it won’t need them to provide transportation for students.
“Each of the six mentors can have not eight kids, but 20,” Johnson said, mentioning that the virtual aspect of the program will make this expansion possible.
Mentors will receive the information for their assigned students and reach out to them to take part in components of the program using online interaction. Students will also have projects and arts and crafts they will work on individually and with their families.
“Traditionally, during this six-week program each child receives a book at the end of each week,” Johnson said. “This year they will be shipped and dispersed all together, six books at once.”
Johnson said the Jefferson County Board of Education, working through Lee Ebersole at the Board of Education office, has supported the program by helping with the book purchases.
Children entering grades 1-6 are eligible to participate in the program. It is on a first-come, first-served basis, with principals and teachers providing suggestions of students they feel would most benefit from the program.
The program is also funded, in part, by grants from the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts and Volunteer West Virginia, the state’s Commission for National and Community Service.
For information on registering for the program, visit extension.wvu.edu.