Students learn skills at leadership summit


SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. - The task: Flip over a small blanket with 10 people standing on it.

It might sound almost impossible, but it took the group of teens less than 10 minutes and only two attempts to successfully complete the mission.

The team-building exercise was one of many 120 students in grades 9 to 12 from schools across Franklin County encountered Thursday during a day-long leadership summit.

Nancy Geiger, 16, took charge in directing the group through the blanket-twisting challenge.

A junior at Cumberland Valley Christian School in Chambersburg, Pa., Geiger said the summit "is defining and redefining my leadership skills.


"Every part of being a team involves being a leader," she said.

The summit, held at Shippensburg University, included seminars on team building, time management, money management, starting and organization and several other topics.

Healthy Communities Partnership of Franklin County spent nearly two years organizing the day, which began with a survey of more than 1,000 Franklin County students in the spring of 2000. The survey assessed family support, community values, self-esteem and 37 other "developmental assets," said Jan Crudden, executive director of Healthy Communities Partnership.

Survey results indicated a lack of a connection between young people, their communities and adult role models, and plans for Thursday's event began to take shape, she said.

"We felt we could do something to address the quality of life issues concentrating on areas where kids felt a disconnect from the community," Crudden said.

After a day of seminars, the students were to come up with a community project for each school.

The development of community projects is intended to start the dialog and reverse that trend of separation, Crudden said.

Students volunteered to participate in the event or were recommended by teachers who felt they may have untapped leadership potential, she said.

They were integral in planning the day and helped pick the topics for the nine seminars, which were led by various community members.

Joni Keefer, 16, a sophomore at Chambersburg Area Senior High School, said due to timing it will be the end of the school year before she and her classmates get to work on their project.

She said the group plans to clear litter along the lake and waterways at Wilson College.

"We will make people want to be there," she said.

Keefer said the summit was enhancing her leadership skills. A member of Help Increase the Peace and Big Brothers Big Sisters mentor for elementary school students, she already is involved in the community but was still able to come away with a lesson Thursday.

"Teamwork is most important. You don't focus on the individual," she said.

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