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10th-grader Michael Thomas, from Delaware Academy High School in Delhi, and 11th-grader Ivy Wilburn, of Gilboa-Conesville High School, participate in a group activity during the FCCLA leadership conference at Morris Hall at the State University College at Oneonta on Wednesday.

ONEONTA _ Five area schools were among the nearly 30 that participated Wednesday in statewide summer leadership training sessions held at the State University College at Oneonta.

The conference that runs Monday through today is held for state student leaders of the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, an organization for family and consumer science students in middle and high schools, said coordinator Peg Helt.

At the Wednesday session were chapter members from Delhi, Gilboa-Conesville, Margaretville, Norwich and Cobleskill-Richmondville schools. A couple of Oneonta City school members attended Tuesday, she said.

The daylong sessions are designed to help student leaders plan FCCLA activities for next year and develop leadership skills through workshops and activities, Helt said.

Not everyone at the session was pursuing a career in the family and consumer science field.

Ivy Wilburn, a junior at Gilboa-Conesville High School, is a district treasurer and was a state organization secretary. She said she is planning on going to Cornell University to study forensic science and psychology when she graduates high school.

She joined because "it was something I can do to have a positive impact on my community while having a lot of fun."

Chapter activities involve fundraisers for group events, including attending state meetings, and community service projects, members said.

Michael Thomas is a 10th-grader at Delaware Academy in Delhi. He has been involved since sixth grade. Since his older sister, Caitlin, was also active, his tenure feels longer, he said. He is a public relations officer for the district.

Local officers will be chosen early in the school year.

There are a total of 20 members in the Delhi school chapters, and 12 are in high school. Ninth-grader Henry Sookram said he has been involved since seventh grade.

"I thought it would be cool to help the community," he said, and he has not been disappointed. "I like traveling and meeting new people," and the activities offer plenty of opportunities.

Helt said she has been involved since she retired from being a family and consumer science teacher at Union-Endicott in the 1990s.

"I enjoy seeing the students get involved as naive seventh-graders and watching their growth," she said.

She also enjoyed working with the alumni who give back, as "they do a great job."

One alumna is Hannah Babel, a senior at State University College at Oneonta, who is majoring in family and consumer science education.

Her involvement "helped me pick my career and helped me develop as a person," she said.

With the public speaking and group leadership skills she has developed, "It will help me as a teacher."

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