From March 9-11, 62 students from AHS competed in the DECA State Conference in Boston. DECA, which stands for the Distributive Education Clubs of America, is an international organization designed to prepare students for careers in business including marketing, entrepreneurship, management, sales, hospitality, and finance. Students compete individually or in teams of two or three in various events.

Those competitors who place in the top 4 to 5 in their category at the State Conference move onto the International Career Development Conference in California. Four students from AHS have qualified for event: Matt Adams, Isaac Finn, and Alex Ladd qualified in the Innovation Plan category and Madison Fugere qualified in the Start-up Business Plan category.

The DECA competition season started earlier this school year in December at the District competition. One type of event is roleplaying, where competitors are given rules, instructions, and a 30-minute planning period to come up with a solution to a problem. Students can also choose to prepare a business idea in advance of the competition. All competitors then present their proposal to a judge privately. Once every competitor has presented, awards are announced, and the top four individuals or teams in each category are set to move on to the State conference.

The State conference was held at the Hynes Convention center in Boston and hosted 2,000 future business leader from Massachusetts. At the conference, students compete in the same categories as they did in Districts.

Natalie Kushner, senior at AHS and first time DECA participant, was one of the State qualifiers in the Hospitality Services Team Decision Making category. Kushner and her partner chose to do two role playing events, one where they had to present a plan to advertise a mental and physical awareness resort and the other where they created hotel package that included the room, a show in the city, and another hotel service.

Jake Ruthazer, another senior and the chairman of AHS’s DECA chapter, competed in the Community Service Project event. Ruthazer wrote a business plan for a non-profit named teamSMILE, whose mission statement reads that “teamSMILE strives to inspire independence and social skills in the special needs community through artistic avenues.” TeamSMILE, which is designed to help adults with developmental delays, will be implemented during next fall at Ironstone Farm in Andover.

Both Kushner and Ruthazer highly recommend joining DECA, especially for students interested in business. DECA allows prospective business students the experience of what being in business is like. Kushner explained that “the overall atmosphere of both competitions [Districts and States] made it feel like we were really adults in the business world. The judges treated us like adults and gave a sense of what it’s like to go in for an interview or pitch an idea to a boss.”

By Karishma Mistry