BCHS DECA students to attend international conference

BROWNSTOWN — A gold-medal effort and a top-four finish resulted in three Brownstown Central High School DECA members receiving an opportunity to compete in an international event.

Brewed Awakening, the coffee shop at BCHS, was among 461 school-based enterprises in the United States achieving gold-level certification for the 2021-22 school year. It will be recognized during DECA’s International Career Development Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

Senior Taylor Loudermilk placed second in quick serve restaurant management at the DECA state contest in Indianapolis, which also earned her a spot in ICDC.

Senior Chesney Johnson and junior Samantha Kellogg, who help run the coffee shop with Loudermilk, will compete in the School-Based Enterprise Academy. This year’s instructional area for competition focuses on human resources.

BCHS DECA Adviser Robin Perry will accompany the trio at ICDC, which is April 23 to 26.

“It’s amazing, awesome. They do such a great job,” Perry said of her students. “I’m glad they get this opportunity.”

At the conference, 17,000 high school students, advisers, businesspeople and alumni will gather to develop knowledge and skills for college and careers.

That includes more than 10,000 DECA members who will demonstrate their college and career knowledge and skills by participating in DECA’s Competitive Events Program. They are finalists from their chartered associations hoping to be named an international champion.

DECA prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management in high schools and colleges around the globe.

From the School-Based Enterprise Academy to executive officer campaigns to adviser professional learning, ICDC brings together the best of the best to culminate a successful DECA academic year.

In February, Perry was informed Brewed Awakening achieved goal-level certification for the third time in its four years of operation.

A school-based enterprise is an entrepreneurial operation in a school setting that provides goods and services to meet the needs of the market. They are managed and operated by students as hands-on learning laboratories that integrate national curriculum standards in marketing, finance, hospitality and management.

DECA advisers have utilized this educational tool for more than four decades to provide students with realistic and practical learning experiences that reinforce classroom instruction, enhance 21st century skill development and prepare students for college and careers.

To apply for the certification, SBEs must submit extensive documentation that explains how they demonstrate the practice of various marketing and retail standards. A review committee evaluates the documentation to determine which level of certification has been achieved. DECA’s SBE programs are sponsored by Intuit and Otis Spunkmeyer Inc.

For BCHS, Loudermilk helped write the 23-page paper for recertification and was assisted by fellow students who work in the coffee shop and Perry.

“That’s just basically to show DECA that we’re improving the shop and that we are still learning from it just so that it’s not more of a hobby than an actual learning environment,” Loudermilk said. “This is a business lab.”

At the conference, Johnson and Kellogg will give a presentation on Brewed Awakening since Loudermilk will be competing in her individual event.

They will give an overview of the coffee shop, show a video that was created by Kellogg to give the judges a good picture of how it operates and explain the human resources aspects.

“We basically broke down every action that occurs in the coffee shop, whether it’s making lemonade, getting ice, balancing a drawer, how to redo the syrup bottles, how to organize the dish shelf,” Loudermilk said of the video.

Since that part is done, Johnson said it’s just a matter of inserting that in the presentation and her and Kellogg working on what to say.

“You can’t write everything on the slides. You have to figure out what you’re saying, who’s going to talk,” Johnson said. “I’ve never worked with Sam on a partner thing before, so we will have to figure out each other’s rhythms and stuff like that.”

During the SBE Academy, Johnson and Kellogg also will experience professional development sessions and network with other SBE managers.

For Loudermilk’s individual event, she will have role plays and take the Hospitality and Tourism Career Cluster Exam.

Those also were part of the district and state contests. She said she was surprised to place second at state.

“Quick serve is one of the events where our district doesn’t have that many (competitors), but at the state level, every spot is filled from every district,” she said. “It seems like there are a bunch of people in that event, so I surprised myself by getting second place overall.”

She received a competency medallion for scoring well on the exam, and she knew she did well on one of her role plays.

“But I actually ended up scoring a lot better on the one I didn’t think I did well on, which was surprising,” she said. “I’m just really thrilled that I did so well, but I was more excited I got to meet a lot of other people in quick serve.”

At ICDC, she said it will be another step up in competition.

“I’m going to have to up my game, make sure I get all of those performance indicators just to score well and try my best,” Loudermilk said.

This will be Loudermilk’s second time going to ICDC, while it will be a new experience for Johnson and Kellogg.

It also will be the final conference as BCHS DECA members for the two seniors.

“I think the biggest thing is we’re from Jackson County. It’s very rural. It’s awesome to go to these places and to meet these people from all over,” Johnson said. “Also, they are well-educated, and it’s just out of this bubble. … It’s so different. In high school, that’s crazy you get to experience those real-world feelings as a senior.”

Johnson plans to go to Indiana University to earn a prelaw degree and minor in business so she can go into corporate law, so she said ICDC will help her see how a business functions and the different mindsets that go into it.

Loudermilk said she has come a long way since her first time at ICDC.

“This experience has already just exploded my horizons,” she said. “Freshman year being able to go to ICDC with the school-based enterprise Brewed Awakening, I wasn’t very good at the competition at that time, but that knowledge from those academies, I brought it back and I’ve expanded Brewed Awakening over the past three years.”

Then this year doing so well in her individual event, which has a mindset similar to the coffee shop, has expanded her knowledge and experience.

“It just makes me appreciate pretty much all of our quick serve restaurants around us and what all they have to go through, and just taking the managerial skills into the next part of my life is the best part about it,” Loudermilk said.

Since Kellogg will be the only one of the three returning to Brewed Awakening next school year, she said ICDC will be a great learning experience to be able to lead the operation of the shop.

“I want to open my own business when I’m older,” Kellogg said. “The fact that (Loudermilk) helped me learn from all of this is going to make it a lot easier to be able to do it because I still want to be able to run it. If I want to be the leader of it like Taylor is, then I’ll understand how to do it.”