Thinking on your feet—it’s something the members of DECA chapter will be doing plenty of Tuesday at the Mansfield Holiday Inn as they take part in a District competition.
In addition to a written test, will be asked to role play with a judge and solve a business problem (like employee theft) or come up with a marketing strategy (like how to maximize sales on a tax-free weekend). The students—some participating in pairs, others alone—are given mere minutes to come up with a solution and present their idea.
“It’s the closest thing to actually pitching something to a boss,” junior said.
Beyond just building job and business related techniques, the role play helps students practice basic interview skills, like keeping eye contact, junior Brett Hoffman said.
Of the 82 members in the Stoughton High chapter, 71 will be competing at districts, advisor Eddie Rodrigues, a business/information technology teacher at SHS, said.
DECA, a business and marketing education program, has been offered as an extra-curricular at SHS since the 2005-2006 school year. It offers students the chance to develop leadership skills, senior Nick Aliquo said, and networking skills, according to senior Ross Andler.
DECA “makes you a more well-rounded person,” Rodrigues said.
“They get good experience how to interview for a job and how to [perform while] being put on the spot.”
Stoughton High sent less than 40 to the first district competition in the ’05-’06 school year, the SHS Knight reported. Nearly double that will compete this year. Last school year, SHS DECA had 60 members, and despite losing many to graduation, the group grew by more than 20 in 2011-2012.
DECA members, past and present, credit Rodrigues, who is in his second year advising, for the growth in numbers and success of the program.
“Before he became the head of the program, our DECA chapter lacked in numbers and significance," (SHS ’11) wrote in an email. “In his first year alone, we were able to send a multitude of students to compete at the national level as well as have two Stoughton chapter members be elected as state officers, an honor that rarely occurs.”
“As a teacher and a coach, he is able to relate to his students and that is what makes him so likable. He puts a lot of time and effort into the school,” Kenney continued.
“Mr. Rodrigues helped transform DECA to the super power it is,” (SHS ’11) added in an email. “He helped us rally together a large group of people to travel to districts and an impressive percentage continued onto states. Although Mr. Rodrigues had not fully experienced DECA as an advisor before, he learned all of the tricks and knowledge involved with the program.
“His enthusiasm and interest in the program inspired me personally and I assume everyone else to work harder in our categories and make him proud as well as making ourselves proud. I am very proud of what the Stoughton High DECA program has become and I know that a lot of this can be attributed to Mr. Rodrigues.”
Current senior Valerie Szeto said, “I could never thank him enough for the countless hours of dedication and hard work he has put into the program. From fundraising to the actual competition, he is always on top of things and is willing to help anyone who asks.”
Rodrigues, a , gives the credit to the students.
“The kids I have are great kids. It’s more them; it’s very student driven,” he said.
Kenney, Zuk and Szeto were among eight SHS students who attended an , which is a mixture of competition and career development, in Orlando last spring. Then senior (SHS ’11) competed in Principles of Hospitality and Tourism at the conference, finishing 20 out of more than 300.
Stoughton High will be attending a similar conference in Utah later this school year.
Szeto and Aliquo also serve as Massachusetts DECA state officers this year, giving Stoughton two of eight state representatives.
Both went through a rigorous process to become state officers, passing a test, an interview and delivering stump speeches in front of thousands of Massachusetts DECA members at the state DECA convention.
In addition to competitions, the SHS chapter also does community outreach and runs a school store.
Current and former DECA members speak to how the organization enhanced their high school experience.
“I don’t know that I would do without DECA,” Szeto said.
“In terms of the impact DECA had on my high school career, words can barely describe it,” Zuk added in an email.
“Over the course of three years, I gained a significant amount of confidence and learned how to speak in public clearly and ‘properly.’ I am so grateful for the experience and newly acquired knowledge that will help me in the future on job interviews and I am convinced it actually helped me with the confidence needed for .”
“The great thing about DECA is that its competitions are based on solving current, realistic problems in business,” Kenney wrote in an email. “It allows a student to experiment with possible ideas for their future as well as provide opportunity. It's a great way to meet people and have fun. I was able to go to Orlando with some of my friends to compete nationally.”