DECA students went to internationals

Juniors Jessica Hale and Stephen Melander and seniors Brittany Bailey Essance Whiteside went to the DECA national convention in Nashville, Tennessee, on April 22-27 to represent the state of Oklahoma, along with a few other kids from schools around the state.

The four officers from Duncan flew on a charted plane with other representatives from Oklahoma to Nashville, and stayed at the Embassy Suites about 15 minutes from downtown Nashville.

The opening ceremonies were held at the Bridgestone Arena on April 23, and about 17,500 people were there.

Hale is the president of DECA for the state of Oklahoma and got to be a part of the parade of flags, which is where a representative from each chartered association got to march their flag across the stage in front of everyone there.

“It was just crazy because here I am walking our Oklahoma flag across the stage in front of almost 20,000 people when I’m from this small town, and eight months ago I couldn’t even tell you what DECA stood for,” Hale said.

DECA is a business club that stands for Distributive Education Clubs of America.

Lauren Alaina, runner up on season 11 of “American Idol, was there to sing for them, and there was also a fashion show for entertainment.

“It was so crazy,” Hale said.

Hale went to lots of workshops while she was there, and the others competed in several competitions.

“I had a workshop there called empower, that taught students about what kind of leader they were, and how to become a stronger leader,” Hale said. “It also taught how to work with other types of leaders.”

Hale had to work with many other people and spent a lot of her time working for the Oklahoma State Action Team.

The competitions that Bailey, Melander and Whiteside took were called ICDC, and there are multiple categories.

Melander competed in Quick Service Restaurant Management, or QSRM, which is a career cluster exam.

“For mine, it was the hospitality and tourism exam,” Melander said. “It dealt with a lot of customer issues as well as law and ethics.”
Bailey and Whiteside competed in Apparel and Accessory Marketing, or AAM.

All of these competitions and events took place at the Music City Center in Downtown Nashville.

As well as business-related things, they did fun things also. Hale ran in a 5K hosted by DECA to help support MDA at Shelby Park, and the group got to explore Nashville.

“We got to walk around downtown a lot, and really see Nashville. It was so beautiful,” Hale said.

Although none of them made the finals for their competitions, they were still able to meet and connect with new people in many new ways.

“We were able to not just meet delegates from Oklahoma, but from all over the world. Puerto Rico, Canada, Spain, Mexico, Guam,” Hale said. “It was amazing. We were able to connect with students just like us, from everywhere.”