DECA business club competes at states


photo by Laura Darty

DECA club awaits for the awards ceremony to start. Last year, only three members of the club qualified for states and attended, but, this year, DECA tripled their members, with nine students who attended and four award winners.

Sophomore Laura Darty did not expect much. Her only prior experience was a mock competition at UCF, so Darty went into her first state competition not thinking about awards. But as the weekend concluded, and it was time for the awards ceremony, Darty found herself on stage, with a medal, earning a distinction for role-play in her category, Hospitality and Tourism.  

From Feb. 28 to March 3, the DECA business club, along with club sponsor Matthew Thompson, attended their annual state competition at the ballrooms in the Hilton Lake Buena Vista Hotel. This year, DECA increased its number of state qualifiers from three to nine students who attended.

The state competition consisted of a 100-question multiple choice test based on a business-related category picked by the contestant. Categories included Principles of Marketing, Finance, Hospitality and Tourism, Financial Literacy, Human Resources Management, among others. If passed, competitors moved on to give a presentation on a scenario that fits the category. This process was timed, candidates had 10 minutes to get ready, and then an additional 10 minutes to present in front of judges.

“Everything is really on the spot. You really need to be familiar with basic terms and you have to hit five key points in your presentation to try and boost your score,” senior Evan Silveira said.

After competition, the group had free time to visit local places  like Disney Springs and prepare for the award ceremony held the last day. Both Darty and junior Rachel Pyros won awards in their study case, Darty for role-play and Pyros for testing, while Silveira placed fifth for Principles of Business, qualifying him for an international competition.

A special recognition was given to chapter officer, senior Lauren Muse, who earned the Dollars for Diamonds scholarship, an award of $1,000. The scholarship recognized her involvement with DECA in both state and local levels as well as the impact DECA has made in her career development. Muse had to go through an application process and attend an interview with the judges at the competition.

“DECA has given me so many opportunities, friends and experiences that I could never repay them for, so the fact that they awarded me monetarily for my participation is the cherry on top,” Muse said.

Throughout the year, DECA prepared for states by holding fundraisers like a Chipotle Spirit Night and a Halloween Bake Sale, they received a grant from the School Advisory Council Board and enforced competition fees. They also launched a new practice program, Study60, that helped members sharpen up interview skills before competition. For DECA, the competition gave them an opportunity to practice these skills, develop them, and get feedback from competitors around the state.

“It was truly a learning experience to present ourselves with the business knowledge gained throughout the year at club meetings and study sessions,” Muse said.

The club currently prepares to attend an international competition held in Orlando in April, where Silveira will compete.