Do It The DECA Way


A recap of Potomac Falls’ visit to DECA’s State Leadership Conference.

Founded in 1946, DECA is an organization intended to help build and strengthen entrepreneurship, leadership, and communication skills amongst high school students through interactive roleplay and strategic marketing presentation. With over 3,200 high school chapters and 175,000 members, DECA is recognized as one of the nation’s most prestigious co-curriculars.

On the morning of March 4, members of Potomac Falls’ DECA chapter joined over 30 competitive teams at the annual State Leadership Conference in Virginia Beach, VA. Months of practice testing, project management, and preparation led up to the conference, in which representatives on behalf of Potomac Falls medaled and claimed glass, DECA’s coveted crystal trophies, for their respective events.

Competition day was off to a “chaotic” start, said sophomore competitor Ceci O’Grady. After a four hour trek to the convention center in Virginia Beach, VA, students checked into Best Western Hotel in accordance with their previously assigned room arrangements. It was in these hotels that competitors spent hours preparing and finalizing projects on the eve of the competition.

“[The night before the event], I did some practice prompts and worked with Mr. Patrick Lucas (Marketing teacher) to finetune my skills before the competition,” said sophomore Sloan Richards.

Competitions began as early as 8:00 a.m. The conference offered a variety of events for student representatives to compete in. These events ranged from Hospitality and Tourism to Sports and Entertainment Marketing to Business Management and Administration. Competitors were expected to develop and advertise in a variety of mediums such as roleplay scenarios and written events that demonstrated their marketing and advertising skills.

Competitors on behalf of Potomac Falls established their dominance with a number of top scorers, medalists, and glass winners. Senior DECA President Mauricio Milian and senior Head of Retail Emma Buytenhuys walked away with a Gold Recertification for School Based Enterprise. Seniors Erica Levi and Kaitlin Borden, who finished in third place for Hospitality and Tourism Operations Research, were joined in receiving glass by sophomore Arjun Setty who also took home glass after finishing in first place in the Business Finance Series. 

Top scorers were awarded medals for their presentations. Amongst these medalists was Richards who placed fourth in the Sports and Entertainment Marketing Series, sophomores John King and Austin Ranaudo who placed fifth for Travel and Tourism Team Decision Making, freshman Bella Reuss who finished in fifth place for Principles of Business Management and Administration, and sophomore Ceci O’Grady who placed sixth for Hospitality and Tourism Professional Selling. Additionally, freshmen Marissa Miller and Sienna Bogar placed seventh and ninth, respectively, for Principles of Hospitality and Tourism. Medalists in these events have the opportunity to advance to ICDC, DECA’s International Career Development Conference, which will take place on the weekend of April 23 in Atlanta, GA. 

Students were also awarded for outstanding performance-indicating roleplays and high scoring on DECA tests. Reuss was recognized for her high scoring test in Principles of Business Management and Administration. Juniors Tommy Linn and Sarah Ruhl were recognized for high test scores in Entrepreneurship Team Decision Making and Hotel and Lodging Management, respectively. Senior Owen Copeland also medaled for his test score for Sports and Entertainment Marketing Team Decision Making. Medals were awarded to those who scored in the top ten for roleplay. Juniors Tanisha Kiran and Brynn Duelm placed for their Hospitality Services Team Decision Making roleplay, sophomore Jenna Zekra placed for Principles of Marketing, and senior Katelyn Monteverde placed for her Principles of Hospitality and Tourism roleplay.

“Although DECA prepares you for very basic finance and business knowledge, it also prepares you for the soft skills that you need to succeed,” said Setty. “How to communicate effectively, how to present properly, how to shake hands…Those are very small things that make a big difference.”