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DECA Prepares for Changes

December 1, 2020

DECA has been preparing students for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality, and management since 1946. 

However, the organization is about to face it’s greatest challenge yet.

DECA is centered around district, state, and national level competitions. At these events, members participate in unprepared business case scenarios and present prepared projects. DECA competitions are usually packed with volunteer facilitators, judges, club advisors, and hundreds to thousands of DECA members.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization is going to have to implement immense changes to the style of the competitions.

Mr. Jesse Theirl, business, is the HHS DECA advisor. Theirl recently had a meeting with other DECA advisors in the same district as HHS to discuss the new format for the upcoming competitions.

“As far as the prepared projects, right now you’ll most likely upload the written part of it into a platform, and then you’ll also probably end up recording your presentation and uploading that,” Theirl said.

Although this solution may work for the prepared presentation, it does not solve the problem of the unprepared events, which usually require more interaction between the judge and the participant.

“We’re working with a software company to potentially develop a live platform. When we looked at the original logistics like Google Meets and Zoom, none of those platforms have the capacity to handle a competition of that size, seamlessly,” Theirl said. 

The reason DECA advisors want to orchestrate the unprepared role play scenarios in this format is because they believe it would be most similar to an in person experience. However, they may still decide to follow the model of the national competition where members would use the same platform as the prepared presentations.

“On our end it would be a much better experience for the kids if they were able to [participate in their event] with a real person on the other side,” Theirl said. “The only down side of that is if we move onto the state competition and then to the national competition, that’s your first exposure to that format which might put you at a disadvantage to someone who used it throughout their whole experience.”

Despite the drastic changes to the format of competition, HHS DECA hasn’t lost much membership. The club has 60 members signed up, a drop from the average 70 that they’ve had in years past.

Will Rauser, senior, has been a DECA member since his freshman year and is the current co-president of the club.

“I think maybe some people’s interest declined because it is not really ideal,” Rauser said. “It’s definitely a club that functions better in person. However, since COVID has opened up our schedules, DECA is an activity that will give people things to do.”

Rauser also said that DECA is an important club, especially now because of COVID-19, as everything is becoming more and more digital.

“DECA members have to get used to presenting virtually because that is where we are going,” Rauser said.

Theirl said that he agreed with Rauser about the importance of DECA.

“I think in general if it wasn’t 2020 I would still say DECA is pretty important because of two things: It gives you some career experience, but it also brings your whole academic career together. In DECA you apply [what you learn in your academic classes] to an actual project,” Theirl said.

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