Seldom do high school clubs allow students an outlet to develop their creativity while networking and gaining professional insight. The Black Hills High School DECA organization, however, manages to accomplish just that.
DECA is an international organization “that prepares high school students and college students for careers in entrepreneurship, marketing, finance, and hospitality”, as explained by the club’s Chief Financial Officer Max Parker. The club, advised by marketing teacher Kari Morgan and a board of student officers, is active year-round, giving members numerous opportunities to attend leadership conferences, participate in the organization’s different competitive events, and to develop their overall professionalism and leadership skills.
Black Hills DECA’s Director of Membership Activities Ethan Coughlan appreciates that the club has a lot of applicable value for students: “It’s really good at preparing you for the real world. There’s a lot of experience that goes into it.” Although the club has changed greatly since he first joined DECA two years ago, with the loss of long-time club advisor Brenda Knowlton last year, Coughlan continues to enjoy the experiences he has through the club, finding that it’s “always different, but it’s always fun.”
This year, club members attended the annual Western Regional Leadership Conference, held in Seattle over a weekend in November. Participants were able to “attend a lot of different seminars” and get advice from professionals around the community who come in “to talk about the industries that they’re in”, explains Parker, who was returning to the conference for a second year. DECA has also taken up a new business venture this semester- selling coffee and other snacks to students during both lunches. The profits raised by the club are put towards minimizing the costs of conferences and travel, enabling more students to attend and participate in DECA’s many events. Purchasing products from DECA’s lunch-time store is one of many ways non-members can show support for the club.
Later this month, DECA members will compete in the organization’s area competition. “The top five” winners of this level of the event, Coughlan explains, “will advance to state and then internationals, if anyone gets past state”. The competition is comprised of six different “mini events”, or categories, which students can choose from to compete in: Business Management and Administration; Entrepreneurship; Marketing; Finance; Hospitality and Tourism; and Personal Financial Literacy. Black Hills DECA will attend the Area 8 Competition at Little Creek Casino in Shelton, Washington on January 11.
By: Gabby Connors