Business Professional: Behind the Scenes of DECA SLC


In early March, our DECA chapter broke school records and returned with 50 awards. But what does this mean exactly? For the niche group of business professionals, it meant traveling down to Virginia Beach, Virginia, dressing up in suits, ties, and heels, and presenting a business solution to a specific prompt in front of a judge. For everyone else, here’s a little background. DECA is one of the largest organizations in America and “prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management in highschools and colleges around the globe.” From DECA competitor Arjun Setty, “DECA is an organization that helps highschoolers translate the knowledge that they learn in their marketing and their business classes into the real world so they can actually apply it, and become more successful in their future careers.”

Friday, March 3rd:

8:30 am: DECA students filled the parking lot of the school, and with all of their luggage, prepared to make the journey down to Virginia Beach. The students left Potomac Falls High School at 8:30 am and took a charter bus for the drive down. “The bus ride was good; it didn’t feel that long once it started, because I think we were all so excited to get there,” said sophomore Brynn Hunter.

12:15 pm: The chapter arrived at the Sandcastle resort around noon, and shortly thereafter rooms were assigned. “Got ourselves down there, got everything situated and figured out,” said DECA advisor Patrick Lucas. Groups of three or four boys and three or four girls were grouped together for the weekend as roommates, which can lead to a lot of chaos. “It was a little hectic for a little bit because it was a little disorganized, and you know, trying to rally everyone, get ‘em together, and getting things done,” said Lucas.

12:45 pm: “The students had free time to kind of explore the area, get themselves something to eat, and just have some chill time, which leads us to about 3:00 in the afternoon,” said Lucas. Many students resorted to Ocean Eddie’s Seafood Restaurant for lunch, and even met up with friends from other schools. “We all went out to lunch at Eddie’s bar and grill or something like that, seafood grill, and we met with some friends from another school,” said Hunter.

6:00 pm: “Friday night we had the opening ceremony, and we went to that, Arjun got announced and me and Mr.Lucas got announced. Arjun got announced for running for a candidate for the state office. Mr.Lucas got announced for outstanding advisor and I got announced for being the district 17 president,” said junior Alexa LoPresti. While the opening awards ceremony was filled with fun exciting moments of recognition for the Potomac Falls DECA chapter, it made for a long night. “No one prepared us for how long it was, like I had no idea it was that long, and there were so many awards for so many people,” said Hunter. 

8:00 pm – 12:00 am: After the opening ceremony, students filled the halls of the hotel with practice material, and got “in line” to practice with one of the advisors. “We get back to the hotel, we start practicing, and trying to prepare for Saturday morning,” said Lucas. Students had the option of practicing with Mrs.Miller, Mrs.Kibsi, Mr.Lucas, and Mr.Onda. “We prepared Friday night by practicing with Mrs.Kibsi and Mrs.Miller, and that really helped,” said senior Matthew Mentzer.


Saturday, March 4th:

7:00 am: The morning of Saturday was filled with nerves and excitement all around. The Virginia Beach Convention center filled with aspiring businessmen and businesswomen, hoping to claim a spot at the International Career and Development conference. Competition started as early as 8:00 am and lasted until 2:00 pm. Some got in and out, while others got pushed back and ended up competing hours after their given time. “We did our competition which was at nine, we were the early time, so none of our times, we didn’t get pushed back at all,” said LoPresiti. This wasn’t the case for everyone. “So our set time was 12:15, and we got in line at 11:40, just to get there early, and we hadn’t heard that everything was super backed up, so we were really confused when we weren’t getting called at 12:15, and we ended up waiting until about 1:00 for them to check us in. And then around 1:45 which was like an hour and a half later we started to do our notes, and then we competed, I guess like 30 minutes after that,” said Hunter.

2:00 pm – 5:00 pm: Students used this time to relax, get food, and recover from their competition. Students played on the beach, walked around on the boardwalk and took long naps. “After my competition time, I waited for others to finish, so they weren’t greeted with an empty convention center after their competition time. But, after that I went back to the hotel room and laid around before getting ice cream with my roommates,” said junior Cecilia O’Grady.

8:00 pm – 9:00 pm: Saturday evening was the second award ceremony of the weekend, and at this ceremony, awards were given out to those who had really high test scores, and, or, really high role play scores. “This ceremony is kind of like a trick, because if you get a medal for a high test score or a role play, it doesn’t mean you are going to ICDC. For example this year, and last year I didn’t get medals, but still went, and am going to ICDC,” said O’Grady. However, it still left people on edge. “I left a little concerned, I felt as though we may have had a few more awards [last year] but I don’t know that it was like a disappointing feeling, I think it was more of a nervous feeling,” said Lucas. 

10:00 pm – 12:00 am: After the awards ceremony, everyone headed back to the hotel and grubbed on pizzas from a local restaurant while getting their things together in preparation for the final awards ceremony the next morning, and the trek back home. “We talked on Saturday night, and we had pizza from Ginello’s, like a local spot that everybody really cares about. And you know just try to make sure people understand that, like, just because you didn’t go on stage on saturday night, doesn’t mean you will not be reflected to be seen on Sunday,” said Lucas. 


Sunday March, 5:

8:00 am – 10:00 am: Sunday morning, students got their luggage together bright and early, and headed down to the hotel lobby to gather with the rest of the chapter before heading back to the convention center one last time. “Sunday is the day that really matters,” said Lucas. On Sunday, competitors found out if they placed in their category, and therefore were eligible to compete at ICDC. “I really like the second award ceremony, this year honestly, I had a lot of high hopes for a lot of individuals, and like some of them didn’t place, but I still had a lot of fun, and we improved since last year,” said LoPresti. 

Now that the students are back home, the ICDC qualifiers are starting to prepare for the international competition which will take place April 22-25 in Orlando, Florida. “Now it’s time for me to go back and start prepping again before ICDC, which is the International level of competition, and that’s actually in Orlando this year, and we get to go to Disney World, and that’s going to be super exciting,” said Arjun.