Brownstown DECA members qualify for state competition


BROWNSTOWN — Brownstown Central High School went 3-for-3 in the recent DECA district competition.

Seniors Taylor Loudermilk and Chesney Johnson and junior Samantha Kellogg placed first in their respective categories in the Jan. 8 contest at Monrovia High School.

Loudermilk’s category was quick serve restaurant management, while Johnson competed in principles of hospitality and tourism, and Kellogg was entered in hotel and lodging management.

DECA is a career and technical student organization that prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs who are interested in careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management.

It enhances the preparation for college and careers by providing co-curricular programs that integrate into classroom instruction, apply learning, connect to business and promote competition.

DECA’s competitive events program is aligned with the National Curriculum Standards in the career clusters of marketing, business management and administration, finance and hospitality and tourism.

The flagship evaluation process involves students in both a written component, such as an exam or report, and an interactive component with an industry professional serving as a judge. The competitive events contribute to every student being college and career ready when they graduate from high school, according to

The district contest included students from Brownstown Central, Bloomington North, Bloomington South, Columbus North and Monrovia high schools.

The three BCHS students advance to the state contest March 6 to 8 in Indianapolis, where they hope to place first and advance to the International Career Development Conference that’s set for April 23 to 26 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Loudermilk had previous experience with the competitive events program, having participated all throughout high school. She competed in the same category as a junior and went to state, which was virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She placed sixth.

She said she chose that category because it tied in with her involvement in the school’s coffee shop, Brewed Awakening, which is considered a school-based enterprise. DECA runs the operations of the shop, and Adviser Robin Perry has students from her business classes help.

“It was right down my alley just because I love what I do there. I feel like I had a good sense of how to run a business that way,” Loudermilk said. “Honestly, I kind of fell in love with (her category). I didn’t like my event my freshman year as much because it was too technical for me. I didn’t do well in it, but quick serve restaurant management, I did it last year, so that’s why I chose to do it this year just because I knew what it was.”

The exam the students take before the competition depends on their category and consists of 100 multiple-choice questions. Then at the competition, they are given a role play scenario and have 10 minutes to prepare for a presentation in front of a judge.

Johnson credits Perry for doing a good job getting the students prepared for the contest.

“Mrs. Perry is incredible about that. She gets us all of these different resources and practice tests,” she said. “Mainly, they are common sense kind of questions, and so it’s nothing really hard that you have to study for.”

Johnson took a different exam than Loudermilk because her event is only offered for first-year DECA members. Loudermilk’s was hospitality and tourism, while Johnson’s was the business administration core exam.

“It’s easier for me to understand because mine’s not necessarily focused on the business and the marketing aspects like Taylor’s is,” Johnson said of her category and exam. “Mine is focused on how to deal with people and to remain empathetic through all of these different situations. I have a lot more experience just dealing with people than I do business because I’m coming into this so late. It was just a good steppingstone for me.”

For the role play, students have 10 minutes to hit on the performance indicators and 21st century skills while explaining their scenario.

Loudermilk and Johnson both said the district competition helped them know what they need to do to prepare for state, where they could do two role plays if they score high.

“It really helps just because you get the practice with the judge because when we go to state, it will be a brand-new judge, it will be a brand-new situation, but the wording of the scenarios, of the performance indicators, every time you practice, you understand the wording a little bit better,” Loudermilk said.

Having to adjust to business lingo, Johnson said she was pleasantly surprised to score as high as she did at district.

“When you go in there … you barely remember once you exit that room what you just said, so I was really kind of freaking out about it and I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know if that was good or if it was bad,” she said. “Whenever I found out and then I saw my score, I honestly thought it was ridiculous and wrong. I didn’t see how I could have just done that.”

Johnson said she now feels it’s really nothing to stress about.

“I noticed that I spent my 10 minutes when I should have been preparing freaking out and trying to figure it out,” she said. “Obviously, you can’t help being nervous. That’s just something that happens. But I’m definitely going to focus more on breathing during my preparation stage.”

Loudermilk said she went to ICDC as a freshman when she and five other students qualified through their work with Brewed Awakening.

This school year, Loudermilk played a role in BCHS DECA reaching Thrive Level for its chapter campaign and helped with the resubmission of the school-based enterprise recertification.

“We actually have the chance with just those two events them giving us six allocations to ICDC,” she said.

In her last year of DECA, Loudermilk hopes to go back to ICDC.

“My goal is to get back there,” she said. “It’s an amazing experience.”

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