DECA Club members headed to national conference


Determination has been on full display this school year for the Brownstown Central High School DECA Club.

It started with their T-shirts, which say “We mean business” and have “ICDC bound” on an image of a suitcase.

The club, which doubled in size to 30 members this year, set a goal of being as active as possible in hopes of having some students attend the DECA International Career Development Conference, set for April 26 through 29 in Anaheim, California.

After completing the Global Entrepreneurship Week, promotional, community service and advocacy campaigns, it soon will be time for four members and two chaperones to pack their bags.

The three members who earned the most points for participation and will be going to the conference are sophomores Bridget Hall and Christian Thompson and junior Colton Cooper. Their adviser, Robin Perry, and her daughter and club member, eighth-grader Carly Perry, and another chaperone will be making the trip, too.

Since DECA started at Brownstown 10 years ago, this is the second time the club has qualified for the national conference but the first time members will be able to attend.

“Our goal at the beginning of the year, we were like, ‘We are going to California,'” Robin Perry said. “That was our goal, and by golly, the officers and everybody pitched in and we got it done.”

She said her DECA chapter was the only one in Indiana to complete all three required chapter campaigns, and it also just recently completed the advocacy campaign.

“Our group has done way beyond what’s here,” she said. “We’ve done everything there is to do. We have done it all.”

DECA, which stands for Distributive Education Clubs of America, was founded in 1946. Its mission is to prepare emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management in high schools and colleges around the globe.

The national conference, which changes locations each year, will be attended by 18,000 high school students, advisers, businesspeople and alumni.

Students also can qualify for the national conference by placing at a state competition or by being a state officer.

DECA members demonstrate their college and career ready knowledge and skills by participating in the industry-validated Competitive Events program, aligned with Career Clusters, National Curriculum Standards and 21st Century Skills in the areas of marketing, finance, hospitality, management and entrepreneurship.

The competition involves a 100-question test and two role plays with a businessperson, and some students also do a written project. All of it is based on the area of business in which the student is interested.

The questions on that test and the role play are different than when the students competed in the district competition.

While attending the national conference, the Brownstown group also plans to do some sightseeing during free time.

During Global Entrepreneurship Week from Nov. 14 through 20, Brownstown’s DECA members had eight idea challenge video entries coming up with a new way to use plastic bottles, wrote three success stories of DECA alumni entrepreneurs and placed bins around school and at a football game to collect bottles and invited the community to participate on social media.

The promotional campaign included a DECA diamond hunt, DECA doughnut sales, a slogan contest, a professional dress day, marching in the homecoming parade and DECA demolition. They also wrote three success stories on chapter alumni.

Community service involved collecting nearly 400 blankets for the Sertoma Club of Jackson County’s Christmas Miracle program. Members made posters and used social media to encourage the community to donate, and they had churches serve as dropoff locations. More than 75 percent of the club’s members participated.

For the advocacy campaign, they promoted career technical education on a bulletin board and through school announcements, a facts contest and presentations to the school board and Brownstown Exchange Club. They also wrote two letters to community leaders and updated the website and social media to include the CTE Month cover photo and using #CTEMONTH.

Hall, president of the club, said members gathered the first week of school to make a list of things they wanted to accomplish.

“From then on, it’s like go, go, go. We don’t have a break,” she said.

The school board recently approved the trip to California, so members were able to check that goal off of the list.

Now, they are working to raise money. The estimated cost per attendee is $565.

They have sent out sponsorship letters to local businesses, and there will be a hog roast April 15 near the Jackson County Courthouse.

The students said they have gotten a lot out of DECA and Perry’s business classes, and they also expect to receive a lot of benefits from the national conference.

Thompson said he wants to gain some leadership skills, while Cooper and Hall both said it will help them prepare for a career.

“I definitely want to network some, meet new people and gain contacts I can use soon or meet people who will impact my life eventually,” Hall said.

“It’s definitely amazing how much DECA can bring us all together,” Cooper said.

Perry said it has been great to see what the chapter has accomplished this year and how DECA has impacted the students’ lives.

“It’s good to see them grow,” she said. “They come in as timid freshmen not too sure of themselves, and by the time they are seniors and they leave, they are confident, and they can speak publicly well. It’s rewarding for me.”

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