Mike and Jennifer Panaggio’s lives revolve around children – lots of them, from all over the world.

From their gracious Port Orange home, they tell their story.

The couple founded DME Academy at 2441 Bellevue Ave. in Daytona Beach about five years ago. Their website describes the academy as an elite, multi-sport training and educational institution designed to help student athletes reach their potential, harness their strengths and achieve their goals.

But the academy goes way beyond that. They bring children from many countries, sixth to 12th grade, to America to experience cultures from other countries and learn to respect them.

The academy teaches students confidence and leadership skills. (The students all receive personalized business cards.) Many of the students earn scholarships and go on to college. Some of the students go back to their own countries and excel in professional sports or other careers. One graduating student is projected to be a first-round NBA draft pick.

“Our job is to give these kids a chance to get into college,” Mr. Panaggio said. “You don’t win on the scoreboard. Our job is to get kids to reach their potential.”

They direct parents to a website, athleteplus.org, which helps them understand the college application process. “We match kids up to the right college,” he explained. “Why guess when we can measure.”

Mr. Panaggio’s father, Mauro, was a huge influence in his life. His father, a basketball coach and teacher, gave him the vision for the direction of his future.

DME Academy is a family endeavor. Ms. Panaggio, a native of China and a U.S. citizen for 25 years, “puts her heart and soul into the academy,” according to Mr. Panaggio, and is “one of the best contributors.” His 28-year-old son, Matt, is head basketball coach at the academy. Mr. Panaggio’s younger brother, Dan, is also a contributor. His 25-year-old daughter, April, and Ms. Panaggio’s 26-year-old daughter, Angelina, both work in Serbia at DME Video, which specializes in video and animation. Mr. Panaggio has a 39-year-old daughter, Jaclyn, who is a doctor. The Panaggios also have four grandchildren.

DME Academy has 110 students from around the world this year. There is even a day camp at DME for younger children (ages 3-4) to get them involved in sports. DME Sports also has 1,400 local children involved in volleyball, soccer, basketball, baseball, tennis, golf, figure skating and hockey. Even in 90 degree weather, skating goes on daily at the ice skating rink in South Daytona’s Sunshine Plaza. DME Sports upgraded the ice rink, one of only 17 in Florida, about four years ago. The ice skating rink is open to the public.

Eric Perrin, a former professional hockey player for the Tampa Bay Lightning, his wife and his daughter all work for DME, and his son is enrolled in school at DME. Athletic director for DME is Laura Steagall, whose husband is head basketball coach at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

“Everything is about getting great leaders to teach the kids,” Mr. Panaggio said.

DETROIT — Amtrak is betting big on a return of ridership.

The nation’s passenger railroad wants to replace its nearly half-century-old fleet with state-of-the-art trains that can operate on electricity or diesel fuel. It plans to spend $7.3 billion to buy 83 trains made by Siemens, with options to buy more if ridership increases. Funding must still be approved by Congress, but William Flynn, Amtrak’s CEO, says he’s confident it will happen.

If it doesn’t, then Amtrak will finance the trains and repay its debt with money from state train services and passenger fares.

The more efficient trains, which will be built in California, are scheduled to start running in 2024. They will have more comfortable seating, better ventilation systems, power outlets and USB ports, Wi-Fi and panoramic windows. Many can run on either diesel fuel or battery power when needed.

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This image provided by Siemens shows a rendering of one of the new Amtrak trains to be built in the U.S. by Siemens Mobility.   Amtrak announced plans on July 7, 2021,  to spend $7.3 billion to replace 83 passenger trains, some of which are nearly a half-century old.

The Associated Press spoke recently with Flynn about the new trains, how Amtrak ridership is recovering from the pandemic and how infrastructure measures may boost intercity rail service.

The interview was edited for clarity and length.

How will these new trains help passengers?

These are 125 mph operating speed trains. They’ll make some trips shorter because in some states we have to change locomotives from electric to diesel. The new trains are dual-mode. It will absolutely be a better passenger experience in the cabin itself. We’re very focused on our (Americans with Disabilities Act) riders and have worked with the ADA community to make sure we have incorporated attributes that are important to them. Certainly in some cases where track is reconstructed, speeds and trip times will improve.

How fast can these trains go?

125 mph. The limiting factor in most cases is track construction, where we’re talking about 90 mph and less, depending on the state and the condition of the track. We’re talking about track that, for the most part, is owned by freight railroads that we have access to.

Will these 83 trains replace what you already have, or will you be able to expand service?

It is more like-for-like replacement than expansion of capacity. We’re replacing 73, with a near-term option for 10. We have options on another 130 train sets. We’re replacing this 40-to-50-year-old fleet with a fairly similar amount of capacity. As we work to build out what we call our Amtrak Connects strategy, growing ridership by 20 million riders per year, going from 32 million to 52 million, we can buy additional trains.

Amtrak CEO William Flynn

Are the Acela high-speed trains in the Northeast Corridor covered by this?

Separate contract, separate manufacturer. The Acela is made by Alstom. It’s being fabricated in upstate New York.

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In 2019, before the pandemic, didn’t ridership hit records?

Yes, it was 32.4 million passengers. I think our ability to recover, post-pandemic, looks very encouraging.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has relaxed mask guidelines for vaccinated Americans, and some states have rescinded mask mandates.

But masks will still be a must if you’re traveling by plane, train or bus this summer.

The Transportation Security Administration on Friday extended its face mask requirement for airplanes, airports, trains, commuter rail systems and other modes of transportation through Sept. 13.

The mandate, which began Feb. 1, was due to expire May 11.

“The federal mask requirement throughout the transportation system seeks to minimize the spread of COVID-19 on public transportation,” Darby LaJoye, a senior TSA official, said in a statement. “Right now, about half of all adults have at least one vaccination shot, and masks remain an important tool in defeating this pandemic. We will continue to work closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to evaluate the need for these directives and recognize the significant level of compliance thus far.”

The TSA said exemptions to the face mask requirement for travelers under age 2 and those with certain disabilities will continue. So, too, will the fines for not complying with the requirement. The fines start at $250 and top out at $1,500 for repeat offenders.

Flight attendants, airlines and others have been pushing for an extension.

The president of the largest flight attendants union said during a U.S. Senate subcommittee meeting earlier this month that airlines still need the backing of the federal government to enforce passenger compliance with their mask requirements. 

“We are still in the middle of the crisis,” Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, said during a meeting of the Aviation Safety, Operations and Innovation subcommittee of the Senate Commerce committee. “I do think it’s important that we recognize that and stay the course here with the mask policies, with all of our diligence (and) with the efforts to get the vaccine out to everyone.”

Airlines began requiring masks early in the pandemic but have faced resistance from a minority of passengers and long sought the federal government’s support.

A big concern as airlines are gradually resuming food and drink service, Nelson said: passengers will leave their masks off for long periods of time.