DECA to attend international conference


Lisa Hefner, Courtesy

Seniors Essance Whiteside and Brittany Bailey stand on either side of another winner in front of the large audience to receive medals and plaques. Three other members of DECA placed in the state competition. Four will be attending the international conference.

Not many Duncan teams or clubs are invited to national competitions, especially international gatherings. But this year qualifying DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) students are attending the DECA International Career Development Conference (ICDC) in April.
During the state CDC that took place Feb. 8 through 10, six students competed, five students qualified and four are going to Nashville, Tennessee, for the international competition.
One of those students is junior Stephen Melander. He competed in the Quick Serve Restaurant Management category where he was given a scenario, acted as a manager for a restaurant and explained a solution for a problem to a judge who was acting as his boss.
“It taught you how to be confident when you’re talking to someone who is completely strange to you,” Melander said.
Not only did it teach speaking skills but Melander said that it also taught him how to use quick problem solving skills on scenarios that he’d never seen before.
Melander is excited for the international competition and will be competing in Quick Serve Restaurant Management category again.
Marketing teacher and DECA adviser Lesa Hefner helps students attending the competitions by going over previous years’ materials; however, she isn’t strict on making students prepare for their competition.
“I don’t make the students do anything,” Hefner said. “However, I give them previous tests for them to look over and review.”
Another student who will be going to the international conference is junior Jessica Hale, who is not only the local DECA president but was elected state chapter president at the state CDC.
She applied for state president in December, and then went through a screening process in January where she was interviewed, took an exam and was approved to campaign at the state CDC in Feb.
“Really the whole reason why I wanted to run for it was because DECA has a lot of things to offer people,” Hale said. “It really prepares people for their future and to be successful leaders.”
Having a student as a state officer is unusual for Hefner.
“Duncan has never had a state officer before,” she said. “And I haven’t promoted it because I’ve never had a state officer before.”
As president, Hale travels around the state to different schools that participate in DECA.
“I also visit non-chapter schools and tell them about the importance of DECA and try to open up new chapters,” she said.
At the ICDC, Hale will be representing Oklahoma’s DECA program and will be attending luncheons and networking with other people there.
In order to go to the international competition, students have to pay a total of around $1000, Hefner said.
“DECA is trying to raise enough money so that we can pay half of each of the students’ attending fees,” she said.
Hale has already started planning what she will be focusing on as president next year.
“I really want to work on growing DECA. I feel like it’s such an amazing organization, but so many people don’t really understand what it is or what we do,” Hale said. “I feel like if they knew more about it more people would want to be apart of it.”