Source: Sherman Publications

18 headed for Int’l DECA competition

by CJ Carnacchio

March 23, 2011

The future of American business appears to be in very capable hands if the Oxford High School DECA Club is any indication.

Eighteen of the 23 club members who participated in DECA’s state competition, held in Grand Rapids over the weekend, earned state championship status.

“I was very pleasantly surprised,” said Oxford DECA Advisor Steve Ruch. “Not because I didn’t think the kids could do it, but because I only brought four kids back from last year. Out of those 23, 19 of them were brand new kids. For them to put forth that kind of effort and do as well as they did was just outstanding.”

State champions include Paige Brinker, Beth Downs, Emily Garavaglia, Mark Hazelwood, Dylan Hency, Emily Hillebrand, Gabe Hilliard, Dimitra James, Olivia Jones, Kayli Kammerer, Lindsay Keenist, Ben Magdeleno, Leigh Nacy, Leah Paul, Cody Ruch, Sara Ruch, Katie Schnettler and Kayla Velucci.

“Thanks to all the businesses and the kids. It wouldn’t have been possible without them,” Ruch said.

These 18 will advance to DECA’s International Career Development Conference in Orlando, Florida April 30 to May 3. Approximately 15,000 high school students, advisors, businesspersons and alumni gather for this conference. Most are there to compete.

DECA is an international association of high school and college students studying marketing, management and entrepreneurship in business, finance, hospitality, and marketing sales and service.

Ruch noted having 18 out of 23 students take first or second place in their respective categories “is the highest percentage (of champions) we’ve ever had.”

“I didn’t crunch the numbers for the other schools, but I can’t imagine anybody having any better of a percentage than that,” he said.

Approximately, 2,300 students from across Michigan participated in the state competition. Oxford’s DECA Club sent 23 students to the competition and every single one of them earned “state finalist honors,” which basically equates to placing in the top 3-5 in their category.

Students who earned state finalist honors included all 18 of the aforementioned champions, plus Sam Cramer, Claire Wolanin, Olivia Hernandez, Jillian Walker and Ann Marie Eames.

Ruch noted he’s never had every student earn finalist honors at a state competition.

“That’s the first time we’ve ever had every kid get a medal,” he said. “Every kid was on stage and got honored for their efforts.”

All of the DECA projects presented at the state competition required a 30-page written report and a 10-minute oral presentation, followed by five minutes worth of questions from the judges.