DECA students compete at international competition

Students compete at international contest


The ETHS DECA team had a terrific showing at nationals in Atlanta, GA.

Zachary Bahar, News Editor

17 students competed in the International DECA Competition which took place on April 21 in Atlanta, a competition in which  9 of them managed to receive an 80% or more review on their papers.

“Evanston DECA is definitely a force to be reckoned with at competitions, when they start calling up the written events you get a lot of first and second place finishes,” senior Jack Caldwell said. “Everyone who did a written event [wrote and presented an essay] this year placed top three [at the state competition].”

DECA is a competitive business club where students can focus on two competitive events: marketing research papers or roleplay events. Both events end with a presentation to a judge and points based on the plans presented.

“Students meet with me at the beginning of the school year and we figure out what they’re going to cover based on the yearly topic,” team advisor Jennifer Weber said. “Students are then responsible for meeting with me once a week to go over their paper. We go over what they need to write, they go home and write it, and we come back the following week.”

A typical written project for DECA consists of a 30-page paper analyzing a business and how they can improve an element of their services. This year the topic being analyzed was how to enhance the customer experience of a business. Within the theme of the customer experience are events focusing on specific forms of business including franchising, community service, tourism, and international development. The essays are graded among those that are in the same section.

“We had to interview the manager and ask questions about the company and come up with a plan based on the data that we gathered,” freshman Zoe Cvetas said.

Many of these essays focus on local businesses and restaurants. Cvetas, who placed 1st Place in Sports and Entertainment, focused on Sky High Sports in Niles, other places covered have included Edzo’s, Herm’s Palace, Sea Ranch, and Chick-Fil-A.

“Besides showing me that I really like business, I’ve learned a lot about the aspects that go into operating a business that I didn’t know before,” Cvetas said.

The competition that these students competed in, the International Competition, includes over 17,000 students from around the country along with students from China, Germany, Mexico, and Canada. Just getting 17 to advance from over 1,800 students at the state competition shows the amount of effort and practice that these students put into their work.

One of the best things about DECA according to Weber is how anyone can do it: “I’ve had plenty of students, both here and at my previous school, who have just flourished in this program, we really prepare you for your life post-high school no matter what your path may be.”

“Being in DECA has broadened my view of who comes to ETHS, and what kind of people there are here,” sophomore Megan Bezaitis, who earned second place in public relations, said.

Of course, the workload that accompanies the club is intense, but the benefits that accompany it can be equally rewarding.

“My social skills have improved; being able to stand in front of a stranger and present,” Caldwell, who placed 1st in community service, said. “It’s helped with my speech, feeling comfortable in front of a group, and my leadership skills… I’ve gotten a feel for the different sides of business, and what I can do as an individual.”

The skills taught by DECA, according to Weber, will stick with those who are in the program for their lives. They are skills that will help them thrive in any field that they go into. Communicating effectively, understanding how economics work, and how to speak to others are all of immense value.

“[Through] reading over our presentations, and going over them with a fine toothed comb, alongside other people, you replicate the conditions you’ll be presenting in,” Cvetas said.

While none of these students got to the international finals, many of them would agree that the competition, comradery, and memories they have formed over their year of work are reward enough.

Echoing Weber, Bezaitis said: “The experience that you get through DECA is amazing and definitely something that I will take with me in the long run.”