By Owen Bresnick
The high school’s business club made school history last Thursday at the District 1 Massachusetts Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) Career Conference and Competition. Six Vineyard students earned awards, including seniors Elias Fhagen-Smith and Karn Datta–who qualified for the state conference in their category for the first time school history.
DECA aims to prepare emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality, and management in high schools and colleges around the globe. At the conference, about 1,000 students competed in 25 total categories. The conference involves taking written exams, competing in business role plays that were judged by industry professionals, and networking.
When up against this kind of competition, Elias said, “It feels great to move on to states. Students from other schools have been training for DECA for years and we still compete with them. It feels crazy and it’s great to have a chance to represent my school.” Elias and Karn won 7th place in Business Law and Ethics.
Business Club president Karn Datta was the only returning DECA participant from the high school. He said, “I got involved in DECA my junior year along with a few other students to see if we could get a chapter going for our school. What began as vision has now turned into something great for our school.”
Juniors Sam Bresnick and Cooper Bennett placed in the top 10 in Team Sports and Entertainment Marketing. Cooper said, “It was a rush of emotions. It was everything I was working for, and it felt good for my hard work to pay off.”
Sophomore Blake Leasure earned second place in the written test for in Apparel and Accessories Marketing and also won top 10 in the same event. Blake said, “It was really fun and I’m glad I did it. It was great to make new friends.” Junior Charlie Whalen also placed in the top 10 in Accounting Applications.
During the awards ceremony, whenever a student was called from the regional, their peers went ecstatic and were cheering and yelling with joy and pride. Twelve of the thirteen students who attended DECA this year, did so for the first time. “The fact that so many of our students placed and did so well in the conference shows the hard work they put in preparing,” said Business Education teacher and DECA adviser Josh Burgoyne.
DECA was a positive experience for the business club. Senior and club secretary Emma Bunker said, “The best part of DECA was the role play because you got to interact and discuss your business plan for a product to a judge.”
DECA was not just a chance to show off business skills, it was also a chance for students to make new friends.
This year the new business teacher, Brian Jakusik, served a significant part in helping the students prepare for the event. Brian taught a DECA Marketing class in his previous school and his experience was helpful in preparing the group for the event.
Mr. Burgoyne said, “The program is improving each year as more and more students take additional business courses. This year we had the first state qualification, which is an extraordinary accomplishment, one that we can build on going forward.”