DIXFIELD — Call it a teenage
motivational workshop, or a confidence builder, or even a chance to
get together with classmates during the summer.

Whatever it’s called, the three dozen
seventh- through 12th-graders from Dirigo and Mountain Valley
schools are turning out this week to learn leadership skills that will hopefully help them throughout their lives.

“We treat them as young adults. It’s
a confidence builder and it builds character,” said Dori Fellman,
director of the Partnership for Success, a University of Maine at
Farmington program operating under the GEAR-UP program.

The Western Maine Leadership Conference
is meeting at the Dirigo High School community room most of this
week. This is the eighth such conference the GEAR-UP program has
sponsored, and one of the most well attended, Fellman said.

Samuel Rock, an eighth-grader from
Dirigo Middle School, said the skits and activities are teaching him
to try things he ordinarily wouldn’t do. Another eighth-grader,
Rylee Litalien, is learning to stand up in front of a crowd
without being terrified.

Lindsy Crutchfield, also a Dirigo
middle-schooler, said some of the exercises have taught her to better
remember things.

On Tuesday, the group broke up into
seven teams and developed business values, many of which were based
on their own personal values.

Sports R Us with a motto of “We’ve
got what you need to get the gold,” was developed by one team, a
slogan of “wicked good prices and wicked good service,” was the
slogan for another. Then each team was given just 10 minutes to write a
skit that would depict success as the characteristics of trust,
enthusiasm, common purpose and openness.Then they performed.

On Monday, the students were led
through “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens,” by Sean
Covey, the son of Stephen Covey, who wrote “The Seven Habits of
Highly Effective People.”

Katherine Harvey, grant manager for
RSU 10, and several UMF tutors helped out with the
presentation and Tuesday’s activities.

Fellman said she, Harvey and others
have often attended motivational workshops that boosts enthusiasm and
she thought, why not for students.

Wednesday’s five-hour workshop will be
a continuation of the Dynamic Organization workshop started on
Tuesday by U.S. Cellular presenter, Brad Dyer of Dixfield. Then on
Thursday, the young people will visit the University of New

It’s all about aspirations and
leadership and making the most out of the future, Fellman said.

“It helps us think about the future
and gives us confidence,” Crutchfield said.

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Ellen Wainright and Hannah Robinson demonstrate enthusiasm during a leadership conference at Dirigo High School Tuesday afternoon. About 36 seventh- through 12th-graders are participating in the four-day workshop.

Dirigo Middle School students, Jack Brown and Kelsey Wilson, work on a skit that will demonstrate trust during a leadership workshop at Dirigo High School on Tuesday afternoon. About 36 seventh- through 12th-graders are taking part in the four-day program.

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