Shenandoah County offering weekly religious instruction for elementary students
SHENANDOAH COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - In January, the Shenandoah County School Board voted 5 to 1 in favor of allowing some elementary students to leave school for religious education.
Last week, the Weekday Religious Education Association began its first classes for second, third, and fourth graders. The once-a-week classes are held at off-campus locations, are around 40 minutes long, and the interdenominational material varies by grade level.
Leaders with the organization said they have around 30 students currently signed up, and the goal of the program is to, “provide an environment where students receive spiritual and emotional support.”
“Bullying has increased in youth as well as teenage suicide, and the stresses they have from school and home and athletics. So, this gives them an opportunity to pray about those things,” President of the Shenandoah County Weekday Religious Education Association George Bowers said.
Bowers is a pastor at Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock and said there has been lots of community support around the program.
“We have over 40 churches in Shenandoah County that have supported in some way or the other. Some of those financially, some of those by encouragement, and so forth. And some by allowing us to use their facilities for the actual instruction to take place,” Bowers said.
He added the program is entirely privately funded by donations and is not funded by SCPS. The funds also go toward bus transportation for students to and from the various class locations in the county.
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