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Democrat Photo by Ted Waddell

MEMBERS OF THE Tri-Valley Senior chapter of the Future Business Leaders of America include, from the left, Stephen Williams, Olga Romanova, Kacie TerBush, Lisa Altbach, Maria Poulos, Morgan Preston, Lisa Sorrentino, and Dan Weisberg.

They're the Leaders
Of Tomorrow

By Ted Waddell
Editor’s Note: Last week was National FBLA Week, while this week is National FFA Week. We’re highlighting both in this week’s two issues: FBLA today and FFA on Friday.

GRAHAMSVILLE — February 20, 2001 – There’s a bit of friendly rivalry at Tri-Valley Central School (TVCS) between two clubs: the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) and the Future Farmers of America (FFA).
It’s not like the Hatfields and McCoys, as the students are interested in exploring the diverse yet inter-related worlds of business and agriculture. In today’s society, you really can’t separate the two careers, so TVCS offers students extra-curricular opportunities in both fields.
At the Tri-Valley FBLA Chapter, members are divided into two categories: a junior division for kids in grades 7-8, and a senior division for 9th-12th grade students. At present, about 20 pupils are members of the chapter’s junior division, and 56 students participate in senior division activities, including competition in events such as accounting, business skills, computer technology, economics, information processing and principals of marketing.
The TVCS FBLA Chapter was started during the 1987-88 school year and has been going strong ever since, although it has attracted scant media attention. For years, it was the only FBLA chapter in the county, although there has been a chapter at Fallsburg for a few years, and this year, Liberty re-activated their organ-ization.
Tri-Valley belongs to FBLA Division III, which encompasses Sullivan, Orange, Ulster and parts of Dutchess and Westchester counties.
A Nationwide Organization
This year’s theme of the National FBLA is “Carrying the Torch of Leadership.” The national conference will be held June 28-July 3 in Orlando, Florida.
The FBLA is a national organization for all high school students participating in business and office programs. The stated purpose of the FBLA is to “provide, as an integral part of the instructional program, additional opportunities for secondary students (grades 7-12) in business and office education to develop vocational and career supportive competencies and to promote civic and personal responsibility.”
In 1937, Hamden L. Forkner of Teacher’s College, Columbia University, proposed to business leaders across the country that a national organization was needed for the thousands of business clubs in the nation’s high schools and colleges. Today, the Future Business Leaders of America – Phi Beta Lambda (FBLA-PBL) includes nearly 250,000 members.
Local chapters are chartered by the national association and operate under the supervision of a state chapter.
The Local Scene
At the Feb. 8 Division III performance events competition, several Tri-Valley FBLA students placed well: senior president Lisa Sorrentino took first place honors in Public Speaking II, Serena Klein won a third place trophy in the job interview category, and senior historian Lisa Altbach was awarded fifth place in Public Speaking I. The chapter also fielded teams in entrepreneurship and parliamentary procedures.
As divisional winners, Sorrentino and Klein advanced to state level competition at the FBLA State Leadership Conference (SLC), to be held April 24-27 in Rochester. Other members of the chapter will compete in classroom-related business categories.
Sorrentino, a 17-year-old senior, joined the local FBLA chapter in the 10th grade because “a lot of my friends had joined, and they told me how much fun it was and how much they learned.”
According to Sorrentino, the senior division’s primary community service efforts this year focus on “assiting the youth of the Tri-Valley community” – things like helping out during the elementary school’s parent mentoring sessions, working at the Bear’s Cub Cave daycare in Neversink and serving as chaperones on youth commission trips.
Upcoming plans for next month include putting on a carnival and presenting an assembly at the elementary school about honesty and playground etiquette.
Her message to students interested in signing up with the Tri-Valley FBLA Chapter?
“It’s a great organization and will help get them accepted to college,” said Sorrentino.
Stephen Williams, a 16-year-old junior, joined in the 8th grade. As senior parliamentarian, he plans to run for state office as historian.
“FBLA builds confidence and helps kids with things like public speaking,” he said. “It teaches them how to get along in college and later in life.”
Seventeen-year-old 12th grader Olga Romanova has been a member of the local chapter since a freshman and has served as the chapter’s treasurer and school store manager.
In her senior year, Romanova holds two positions at the state level: treasurer and chair of the community service committee.
“I definitely gained self-confidence and business-related skills,” she said of her FBLA experience.
Adults Participate, Too
Brenda Hay is a co-advisor of the TVCS FBLA senior division. The other advisor is Nancy Peters.
According to Hay, the local chapter raises money for the March of Dimes, while at the state level, this year’s charity is the Make-a-Wish Foundation. She said the FBLA has raised over $13 million nationally during their 30-year partnership with the March of Dimes.
“I believe the most important thing students gain are leadership abilities,” said Hay. “And they create positive role models for the community.”
Judith Swarthout advises the TVCS FBLA junior division.
“I think it’s important because there aren’t a lot of [extra-curricular] opportunities for 7th and 8th-graders in a small school like ours besides sports,” she said.
A Good Work Ethic
The FBLA junior division recently collected 425 coats, which they donated to the Sullivan County United Way as a community service project. They are planning an ice skating social and a dance to raise money for the March of Dimes.
“I think it’s important for kids to get together and learn about different things,” said 13-year-old 8th grader Kim Devore, president of Tri-Valley’s FBLA junior division.
Elected officers of the Tri-Valley Chapter Senior FBLA: Lisa Sorrentino (president); Bethany Hamilton (vice-president); Megan Sheeley (secretary), Emily Moore (treasurer); Colleen Krom (reporter); Lisa Altbach, Stephanie Mahon and Jake Polick (historians); Meghan Ackerly, Maria Poulos and Kacie TerBush (photo historians); Sam Larison and Ben Weisberg (webmasters); Jill Knox and Leanna Larison (school store managers); Stephen Williams (parliamentarian).
Officers of the TVCS Chapter Junior FBLA: Kim Devore (president); Cecelia Pompeii (vice-president); Melissa Bachmann (secretary); Kayla Greenspan (treasurer).

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