MONROE, La. (Drax/KTVE/KARD) — According to Ouachita Junior High School Seventh Grade Teacher Jessica Blackwell, her students won Drax’s Classroom of the Month for March for their consistent progress in mathematics skills and working hard to achieve their goals.

“The kids were so excited to be awarded Classroom of the Month. The program motivates them to do their best in the classroom and gives them something more to strive for,” Blackwell said. “Exposing them to college at a young age shows them the options that are available and encourages them to make good choices to help prepare if they decide to go that route.”

Drax developed the program in partnership with the University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM) to inspire local students to start thinking about higher education and what they can achieve. The program is part of the energy company’s ongoing commitment to supporting education in the communities local to its operations.

Drax awards a different class each month with the honor. The winners receive a visit from ULM representatives who reward the students for their hard work and show them some of the options available in their hometown as they advance through school.

Drax has arranged for representatives from the University’s athletics department to visit the schools to talk to the students, raise awareness of the college and answer any questions they might have. The students also receive two tickets each to a Warhawk football, basketball, or baseball game and meet Ace, the team mascot.

Drew Bellipanni is the partnership services coordinator at ULM.

“This program is a chance to give back to our local schools and teachers who have worked hard throughout the pandemic to continue teaching our children,” Bellipanni said. “We hope ‘Classroom of the Month’ will motivate students to continue studying as well as see what college has to offer.”

Matt White is the executive vice president of Drax’s pellet operations,

“It’s so important that the next generation has equal access to education,” White said. “Even though these children are in the early stages of their school careers, we hope this program will inspire them by showing them what opportunities are available to them in the future.”

Drax is committed to supporting the communities local to its operations through a variety of measures that include sponsoring educational programs and providing support in times of crisis, including during the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters such as Hurricane Ida.

For more information about Drax visit its website here.