By: Maria Lamagna <email@example.com>
For senior Allison Kehoe, traveling isn’t over for spring yet. She, along with 24 other students from this school, will compete in the International DECA competition April 26 to 29 in Atlanta.
Kehoe, along with partner and fellow senior Carolyn Gaskill, placed first in the Indiana DECA State Career Development Conference contest in the entrepreneurship written event category. They will present this plan again, along with a presentation to judges, at Internationals that will take place in Atlanta.
“For our category, (scores are based) 60 percent on the plan and 40 percent on the presentation,” Kehoe said. “We’ll definitely practice that before we go.” Kehoe also said that she and Gaskill will show their plan to a business professional for extra preparation and input before their trip.
According to Janice Brown and Joy Law, DECA co-sponsors (with Rachel Cera) and business teachers, the International contest will be difficult, to say the least. They said that over 14,000 students will compete, and they come from Canada or even Germany or France in addition to the U.S. and its territories.
“At that level,” Brown said, “it is so competitive.” There is also a lot at stake. Various sponsors such as Finish Line and Marriott subsidize scholarships for the winners of respective categories. First-place winners at Internationals can win $1,000. Second-place wins $500, third wins $250, and fourth through 10th place winners can receive $100 each.
There are 38 categories in which students may compete. Some of them require a written test and role-play activity, which are scored and averaged. Others, like Kehoe and Gaskill’s written event, require a written proposal and a presentation.
Preparation for Internationals has varied by student. “Because of the number of events, (the students) have done a lot of the preparation on their own time,” Law said.
Additionally, the DECA sponsors arranged for a former DECA judge to run workshops after school for students who were interested for additional help. They also have practice tests available for students who will compete in categories that require a written test.
Last year, eight students from this school placed at Internationals. For this year, both Brown and Law said that they again expect the students to benefit greatly from competing at the international level.
“Going in front of a business person, and with 2,000 or 3,000 other students around them, they’ll have to stay focused and prepared,” Law said.
Brown also said that the students will gain experience from the competition.
As far as last-minute advice before the contest, both Brown and Law kept it fairly simple. “I always tell (the students) to smile,” Law said.
“You’ve got to be confident and poised in the competition. The judges want to see that poise and that confidence.”
Brown said, “The nerves are there, but they should have some fun with it and give it their best. You can’t be disappointed if you give it your best, regardless of the outcome.”
Typically, the International competition is hosted in Orlando or Anaheim, CA.
In addition to the DECA contest, they will go on a CNN tour and visit “Coke World” (an exhibit made by the Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Company) and the new Georgia Aquarium.