By Rachel Brenner and Azim M. Keshwani
As presidents of South High School DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America), we’d like to offer an update about the International Career Development Conference (ICDC), which was held in Nashville, TN.
Since ICDC was the final stop in our yearly journey, we find it appropriate to give a brief summary of where our journey has taken us. Recruiting and the Regional and State competitions were all extremely successful this year. We have approximately 180 DECA members, with over 100 students qualifying for States, and 24 students who attended ICDC. However, the unquantifiable aspect of our success was the excitement that was generated throughout all stages of our journey. At Regionals and at States, the excitement displayed by students was real—it was palpable. And that excitement, that eagerness to compete, carried us forward to ICDC.
ICDC is the annual culminating event for this community. It is a massive conference with over 20,000 students from across the country and around the globe. Each student represents his/her respective state or high school with admirable accomplishment and competitive spirit, and with impressive apparel, souvenirs and pride. For five days at ICDC, we step outside our comfort zones, provide for ourselves, and assume the role of adults both in and out of competition. We establish friendships with students from Toronto, San Jose, Dallas, Guam, Hawaii and Chicago, to name a few. It is a convention for students to gain knowledge, worldliness and wisdom. Above all, the event allows our chapter to show its best camaraderie and sportsmanship.
It must not be understated that ICDC is a competition. Students spent weeks, if not months, in preparation. On the international stage, ICDC is the largest and most rewarding of DECA’s competitions. During this convention, each student competes against 300 of the very best in his/her event. Each student is tested to think critically and creatively, to apply his/her theoretical knowledge to simulated real-world scenarios and to take responsibility by assuming the role of a corporate executive. At the end of the primary round of competition, 20 students—chosen from 300 or more—are sent on to the next round. After a second round, the Top 10, chosen from the group of 20, are commended and awarded on stage for their accomplishments.
During the 2015-16 school year, South High was very successful at ICDC. Jin Mo Koo received first place in Human Resource Management. The team of William Ren and Kevin Ho finished in fourth place in Hotel Management Virtual Business Challenge. Several students took Top 10 awards: Kerr Yen Yoo for Business Growth Plan; team of Cara Becker and Susan Fendt for International Business Plan; and Azim M. Keshwani for the Test for Food Marketing. Most of the award winners are sophomores or juniors, sure to continue to receive top-place trophies in the coming years.
In February, a team of four DECA students also excelled at the international Idea Challenge, competing against over 2,200 other teams. Named finalists were: Haley Raphael, Parker Spector-Salwen, Shrinath Viswanathan and Josephine Zheng. They created a useful item (cardboard shoes) from an everyday item (cardboard).
It is hard to accurately describe how much our club advisors—Sheryl Demetres and Rick Vine—do for the club, but we are confident in saying that our chapter’s journey to ICDC would never have occurred if not for them. Flights must be booked, registration must be completed, hotel accommodations must be confirmed and transportation must be provided. All these variables seem to magically fall into place; however, it is not magic…it is simply the hard work of our advisors. Students look up to them as mentors, and through judging practice role-plays and fielding student’s questions, both Ms. Demetres and Mr. Vine give students needed confidence and courage.
Lastly, we would like to thank our district administration. Our high school experiences have been completely altered by our participation in DECA. When we look back in 10 years, we will remember the connections, the friends and the experiences gained from DECA. All this is a direct result of the administration’s commitment to our chapter. We are fully aware of this financial commitment, and we know that the money devoted makes a real difference. It is not an exaggeration that without the administration’s dedication, DECA would not be possible.