CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Instructors and staff members of the West Virginia National Guard's Future Leaders Program (LFP) for high school students recently met in Winfield, West Virginia, to plan and prepare for the upcoming academic school year.As with the end of the 2019-2020 school year, the COVID-19 pandemic has already impacted classes across the state. Currently, dates for starting the academic year have already been pushed back a few weeks, with more decisions forthcoming on in-person classes or virtual instruction. Considerations for remote learning, social distancing, and proper personal protective equipment and protocols are being addressed by FLP staff to best serve students in the program.Recently, members of the FLP met for a week of training to discuss, plan and prepare for the unique challenges of the 2020-2021 school year."The key to success for FLP this year will be to exemplify the motto of adapt, adjust, and overcome," stated David P. Eldridge, State FLP Coordinator. "While some of our lesson plans can be accomplished virtually, much of our program involves hands-on or practical exercises. A significant part of the program is the role model, mentorship, structure, and stability that our instructors provide. Those aspects of the program cannot be provided remotely."Eldridge explained that while the pandemic poses many challenges, the FLP will refine its requirements to provide the best experience possible for students enrolled in the program, with safety and engagement of curriculum at the forefront of their planning.Like the nationwide Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps and National Defense Corps of Cadet programs, FLP is a leadership-based high school curriculum that instills leadership, promotes citizenship, and reinforces life skills.The program operates as either a one or multi-year class opportunity to students using a hybrid academic/career technical education delivery format, with lesson plans falling under one of four broad categories: leadership, citizenship, life skills (personal growth), and military science.Taught by veterans who are trained and employed by the West Virginia Military Authority, core subjects each year include leadership concepts, citizenship rights, responsibilities, emergency preparedness, financial literacy, career direction, and how to build and maintain a healthy lifestyle and habits, first aid, and communications, including public speaking.Additional instruction topics include flag etiquette, time and stress management, goal setting, and leadership case studies, including Medal of Honor recipients' history. Students wear uniforms during FLP classes once per week, follow military rank structure, and practice military discipline and drill techniques and standards."The primary goal of FLP is to help students succeed in high school and to be successful in life. To be contributing members of our communities and nation and to teach the importance of making smart decisions in life," said Major General James A. Hoyer, the West Virginia Adjutant General. "FLP speaks to the long-term individual success of each student, and through them, our local communities and the state. As leaders in their schools and communities, there is no doubt that FLP students will be an important part of the solution to COVID-19 response in our state. They exhibit the qualities they have learned in the program to influence the behaviors of those around them."While FLP is still in its infancy in West Virginia, FLP schools have reported that individual students and overall school cultures have seen reductions in disciplinary problems, higher student morale, improved student participation in community service opportunities, and high student enthusiasm for the program.FLP is currently available in 14 high schools in six counties across the Mountain State, including Clay, Logan, Monongalia, Putnam, Upshur, and Wyoming counties. Estimated enrollment in the program at the beginning of the new school year is estimated between 850 to 900 students.Future Leaders ProgramW.Va. FLP facebookFor more National Guard newsNational Guard FacebookNational Guard TwitterHow the National Guard is helpingPhotos of the National Guard responseLatest from the CDCU.S. responseWhite House-CDC response