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High school's DECA students score business success



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January 18, 2012 - By Olivia Shumaker

Special Writer for The Review

Lake Orion DECA students marketed themselves to success on Saturday, Jan. 14.

They hosted the District DECA Conference at the high school, featuring teams from 29 other area high schools – most from Oakland and Macomb Counties.

DECA is a student organization that focuses on leadership, as well as personal and career development. It is designed for students enrolled in marketing education classes. The national organization has 160 chapters in Michigan with 7,700 members. Some 75 students belong to the Lake Orion DECA chapter, 31 of which competed on Saturday.

DECA students can choose to be a part of the leadership side or competition side of the organization, or a bit of both. It's a "buffet," as teacher advisor Julia Dalrymple likes to call it. The leadership side involves an emphasis on skills including teamwork, adaptability and decision making. "DECA thinks these skills and others are important for students to have to go out in the real world," Dalrymple said.

Both the leadership and competition components have taken DECA students to some interesting places.

"My time with DECA has been both very fun and educational," said senior Jarett Gorman, who qualified for the state conference after his performance on Saturday. "My favorite experience was spending a whole week in New York City visiting businesses, as well as sight-seeing. We went to places from Good Morning America to ice skating at Rockefeller Plaza."

A competition involves student participation in different aspects of marketing, ranging from apparel and accessories to business finance. Before the competition itself, students take a test including questions specific to their marketing interest, as well as general questions about the field. Students also participate in role-playing activities.

They receive a hypothetical situation and are allowed ten minutes to take all of the notes they want before the situation sheet is taken away and they have to present their solution before a judge, who is a member of the local business community.

"If you've got an angry customer and the case isn't specific on how to solve the problem—which it never is—you get to use your creativity to solve it," explained Dalrymple.

After students present and receive a score for their role play exercise, it is combined with their test scores. At Lake Orion, those with the highest scores in each event qualified for the State Conference in Dearborn this March. There will be approximately 3,000 high school students there, with the best moving on to compete in the International Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Of the Lake Orion students who competed on Saturday, 22 received multiple awards, with 19 qualifying to go to the state conference.

"DECA has taught me a lot about not only marketing and business, but also how to communicate more effectively with people on both a personal and professional level," said Tyler Jackson, a senior and one of the several state qualifiers.

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