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DECA’s Emerging Leaders

Posted 11/20/2016 by Mia Grijalva

A few of the DECA state qualifiers represent TJ at the District Conference at Johnson and Wales University. photo by Matt Nicolo

DECA prepares for success at their district conference.

TJ DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) dominated their district conference and lived up to the motto of the chapter this year of  “This is… Thomas Jefferson High School DECA” on November 11th at Johnson and Wales University in Denver. This year, nine Spartans qualified for state, an impressive number considering this is only TJ’s second year in their new competitive district. Overall, 45 students competed this year, which continues to be an increasing number every year as the club grows.

Within DECA districts, hundreds of students from multiple schools compete against each other (including individuals from their own school) in various events. For all DECA members, districts is not only a nerve wracking experience but more importantly is a fun and educational one, where all have the same goal: making it to state.  When students arrived at Johnson and Wales, they were already anxious for their performance, considering their scores to potentially qualify for state were already 50% determined. That previous week, students completed a 100 question test that focused on the elements of their event.

Now that taking the test was out of the way, the focus shifted to two role-plays during that day. Role-plays are a business presentation given by the students to a judge, who then grades them on their understanding of business knowledge, application, and overall performance. As part of the evaluation, students are graded on performance indicators, which are specific elements of the role-play that the students need to cover in order to obtain the best score possible. Along with performance indicators, students had to be quick on their feet for unknown questions asked by the judges. Before the role-plays, students received a certain amount of time in order to prep; individual competitors had 13 minutes while team competitors had 28 minutes. After preparing for their assigned role-play, students then had 15 minutes with the judge for the presentation. When determining who qualifies for state, the test scores and their role-play scores are averaged and compared with the other competitors in their event, which typically consists of 10-20 other students, while only 2-3 qualify.

To conclude the day, students from all schools met in the auditorium for the Miracle Minute, a time when the schools all compete together against each other by collecting the most money within a minute. The money then goes to the Colorado DECA Gives Back Fund where they choose which areas in Colorado need financial need, the winner is then announced at state and awarded. After Miracle Minute, the awards ceremony began where students awaited to hear who qualified by event name. “I felt good about the competitions and kept a good mindset but I was really shocked and excited to hear my name when I qualified,” added first year state qualifier Koryn Artis.

At the district conference, TJ lived up to their great name, like every year, by impressing not only the judges but as well as the collegiate DECA members, volunteers at districts, and representatives from Johnson and Wales. Although, TJ’s DECA Chapter Advisor Matt Nicolo was the most excited for his students in regards of the district conference and for the future of the state conference. “I was very impressed with how our students performed in a professional environment. Mr. Showers and I are very fortunate to be at TJ,” said Nicolo.

Considering TJ DECA dominated districts, Spartans now have to start preparing for the State competition which will be held from February 26-28 at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs. “I feel very excited for this year at State. Last year at the Broadmoor was phenomenal and in the past year, DECA has opened up many doors for me. This position for State officer is definitely something I have been aiming for and I am ecstatic that I have been given the opportunity to go for it,” explained DECA secretary officer Valyntine Lonergan.

State Qualifiers:

Junior Koryn Artis– Restaurant and Food Management
Senior Mia Grijalva– Restaurant and Food Management
Senior Brandon Pietrs-Business Services Management
Junior Zoya Robbins– Quick Serve Restaurant
Junior Isabelle Ryan– Food Marketing
Junior Cody Shem– Sports and Entertainment
Senior Andrew Thibodeau– Principles of Management
Senior Michael Vasilico– Principles of Marketing
Junior Kayne Walton– Retail Merchandising
Junior Valyntine Lonergan qualified to run for a State Officer Position.

The nine state qualifiers are excited to compete in the State competition and represent TJ in hopes to qualify for Nationals in Anaheim, California. Be sure to wish these Spartans the best of luck on their journey to state and nationals.