Competing at DECA’s competitions virtually this year was challenging, but students were still able to learn lifelong skills.
Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) is a program that prepares students to be leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality, and management in their future jobs. Competing in DECA’s District, State, and International Career Development Conference (ICDC) looked different this year as students were virtually involved.
DECA has 13 districts of students learning business skills and competing throughout Colorado. The competitions at districts and state were very similar; students used online platforms to take their 100 question test, find their roleplays, and upload their videos. Students found it difficult to compete online this year because they did not get the same adrenaline rush over the computer as they would when they were in person. As sophomore Kate Little put it, “I thrive off of the atmosphere and showing my energy in front of judges.” Like Little, other students were not able to connect with the judges and thrive in the environment when competing but felt like they could succeed because there was more time to prepare and they could redo their video as many times as they wanted.
Districts and state had the same process of competing, but students felt more pressure when competing at state and were bummed they were not able to compete at the Broadmoor this year. The ceremonies were also virtual this year, but students were able to still participate. For districts, DECA students joined a Zoom meeting where the District Three State Representative, senior Alice Larm, announced all of the events and competitors who qualified for state. The district ceremony was interactive as there was still a Miracle Minute, where students could send money through Venmo to be donated to the charity of the year: Children’s Hospital. Throughout the whole week of the state conference, there were workshops and videos that people could attend live or watch on their own time. There were leadership and time management collaborative workshops. There was a greater attendance this year at the workshops because students found them intriguing, relatable, and could watch them when it worked best for them. The ceremony at state had a Zoom meeting that went right into the awards so students could find out if they qualified for ICDC. Since students will be doing another video when competing at ICDC, DECA has been able to continue to have relevant roleplays with situations that happen in the workplace where students can problem solve and share their solutions with the judges.
DECA has a big impact on students because it prepares them for the future and real world. Students praise DECA for molding them into leaders, raising their confidence, motivating them, and helping them make connections. Junior Lauren Simasko said, “To me DECA has been one of the greatest experiences of my life, competing and just being in a leadership role. It’s taught me a lot about communication and skills relevant for the workforce.” The marketing class at TJ teaches real-life skills and is very successful because of DECA teacher Matthew Nicolo’s dedication. He is a teacher and a friend whose class is impactful and fun. Nicolo uses real-life examples in his classroom and is very understanding and caring towards all of his students. His main priority is that his students are successful and he does this by helping them realize that students’ past mistakes do not dictate their life; they have to grow from them. Even if a student does not go into business, DECA will still help them be successful because it teaches them real-life skills like being responsible, taking action, making decisions, and making connections with others. Congratulations to everyone who competed at districts and qualified for state or ICDC!