DECA-Distributive Education Clubs of America. This is what it used to stand for, but now it means nothing.
However, it means a lot for students at Washington Township Middle High School.
Formed in 1947, DECA is an international association of high school and college students and teachers of marketing, management and entrepreneurship in business, finance, hospitality, and marketing sales and service. The organization prepares leaders and entrepreneurs for careers and education in marketing, finance, hospitality, management, and other business areas.
In essence, it is a competition between students from various high schools, all competing in the business world. Most of these students plan to go on to a career in business.
Griffin Carter, a junior at Washington Township, describes DECA as “competitive, intense, and fun”, with emphasis on competitive.
“I love the competition aspect. Participants get either 10 or 30 minutes to read a role play (case study) and develop a presentation to present to a judge that solves the problem at hand. So, preparing the students to be as successful in that type of situation is a challenge. The students are very excited when they place and win a plaque or medallion and qualify for the next competition,” said Julie Moore, who has been in charge of DECA at Washington Township for 10 years.
Although just a high school club at Washington Township, middle schoolers can try their hand at DECA also.
“My overall DECA experience was enjoyable, and not totally what I expected (in a good way). I was pretty intimidated being an eighth grader because I had never done anything like this,” said eighth grader Bretin Boettcher.
He placed fourth in Sports and Entertainment Marketing. Unfortunately, as a middle schooler, he cannot qualify for State, but looks forward to it for next year.
Sports & Entertainment Marketing was just one of many categories students could be in.
First-year participants of DECA have principles, which includes Business Management and Administration, Finance, Hospitality and Tourism, and Marketing.
Although students do not have to do a principle your first year, it can be helpful if they are unsure or nervous.
In the principles, each participant has an exam and role-play (at State you do two role-plays).
For the exam, you have 100 questions in 60 minutes. The questions differ from each category, but focus on the fundamentals of business.
“A role play is basically just a situation having to do with a problem in a business. A DECA member or team thinks through the problem, comes up with a solution, then presents it to a judge. The member or team is judged on their ideas, organization, and presentation as a whole,” said Sam Soucie, a Senior at Washington Township.
For an individual event, such as Human Resources or Apparel and Accessories Marketing, you have 10 minutes to prepare and then you present for 10 minutes.
For a team event, such as Travel and Tourism or Hospitality Services, you have 30 minutes to prepare and then you present for 10 minutes. The exam scores are averaged.
For the majority of DECA categories, a competitor goes in with no idea what questions are going to be asked or what the role-play is going to be.
However, there are certain categories where you prepare a presentation. For example, Seniors Tiffany Miller and Jimmy Cox participated in Hospitality and Tourism Selling.
They had to assume the role of a salesperson for a destination management company. A non-profit meeting manager is planning a four-day meeting for its 25 person board of directors in a downtown hotel. However, the meeting manager has asked the participant’s DMC to arrange for VIP airport transfers and three nights of entertainment that takes advantage of the city’s unique culture.
“It is judged similar to a role play, but you can't wing your presentation. It essentially needs to memorized and over-prepared,” said Miller.
There are even events where you do not have to go to the actual competition.
Juniors Ryan McCormack and Ben Stewart placed first in the Central Region in the first round of the Virtual Business Personal Finance Challenge and have qualified to attend the International Career Development Conference this year.
“You run a life that is 2 years long. You have a job and an apartment. You have pay for bills and food, and try to have the highest net worth at the end of the 2 years”, said McCormack.
It may sound simple, but there is a lot of work and time that goes into it. Stewart even relates it back to his own life.
“My favorite part of the game is that it simulates how real life decisions can affect how you do in your life,” said Stewart.
At the District competition, the top 6 individuals/teams in each category move on to State. For Washington Township, 25 out of the 29 students that attended qualified for State.
State is March 5-7 in downtown Indianapolis.
High schoolers from all around Indiana will compete for the top four (?) spots to qualify for Internationals in Anaheim, California.
“I am very excited for state because I have heard from the upperclassmen of DECA that they had a blast”, said Katie Evans, a freshman.