CONWAY — Kennett High School students know how to take care of business. Two marketing students — junior Bryce Hill and senior Sophie Killeen — brought home medals from the New Hampshire DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) Conference last month, and Hill qualified for nationals in Tennessee next month.
Hill had planned to attend the national champions, but sadly like many career-tech student organization events, they were canceled due to the COVID-19 virus.
“DECA Inc. Board of Directors and staff recognize the importance of this culminating event for our DECA members who have academically prepared themselves for the opportunity to participate in our competitive events program and our emerging leader series,” DECA Inc. posted on its website on March 13. “Every step of the way, DECA advisors have dedicated countless hours to guiding and supporting our members’ educational journeys, both inside and outside the classroom.
“Due to the uncertainty surrounding this pandemic, the state of emergency in Tennessee and the fact that many school districts, colleges and universities have closed for the indefinite future, DECA Inc. will not reschedule this year’s ICDCs and will halt the competitive events process for the school year.”
“It’s disappointing but understandable,” Allain said last week. “I know Bryce was looking forward to going.”
Hill took first place in the written test category, along with a second-place in marketing role play to earn medals but punched his ticket to Nashville by taking first place overall in retail marketing.
Killeen, who plans to attend Bentley University in Waltham, Mass., in the fall, earned a silver medal in the marketing role play category.
“The 2020 DECA State Conference was a great experience for the students,” said Greg Allain, marketing teacher at KHS and DECA advisor. “They were able to compete in real-world scenarios and performed very well.”
He added: “I think it shows that we’re taking the right steps to make sure they are successful after they leave Kennett.”
DECA’s stated mission is to "prepare emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management in high schools and colleges around the globe."
The conference, held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Manchester Downtown in Manchester on Feb. 12-14, attracted roughly 500 students from across the Granite State to compete in various marketing, economics and business categories.
Twelve Eagles — Mackenzie Carr, Livy Curry, Tatum Brett, Celia Lynn, Joce Anzaldi, Kaia Chakravadhanula, Santi Ciro, Riley Hayes, Noah Barrows, Trevor LaRusso and Hill and Killeen — made the trek to the convention.
Allan explained, “from written tests to case problem solving to business plans and ad campaigns, there are over 40 categories of events (including marketing, advertising, entrepreneurship, accounting, travel, hospitality, sports marketing, business management and market research), for students to enter,” each year. KHS students had been preparing for weeks for the conference.
"We're thrilled with the results," said Virginia Schrader, director of MWV Career and Technical Center at Kennett. “Greg and the students did an outstanding job.”
The competition began Feb. 12 with a written test that all students had to take before the conference.
“The kids did great,” said Allain. “The overall grades for our role plays were far better than last year. While we might have brought home a few more medals last year, I think the overall performance was really strong this year.”
He added: “I couldn’t be prouder of Sophie and Bryce, they’re the co-presidents of our club.”
Hill qualified for the nationals last year, which were held in Orlando, Fla., but did not make that trip.
“Being a junior and our president, he wanted to go this year,” Allain said. “He’s a bright young man, and really deserved the opportunity to go. The good thing is Bryce will get another shot next year.”
Hill, who had hoped to raise $1,500 for the trip, was going to compete in retail marketing.
“It would have been the same setup as the state conference,” Allain said.
According to deca.org, DECA was founded in 1946.
“DECA is organized into two unique student divisions each with programs designed to address the learning styles, interest and focus of its members,” the website states. “The High School Division includes 200,000 members in 3,500 schools. The Collegiate Division includes over 15,000 members in 275 colleges and universities.”
CTSO’s, according to the Mount Washington Valley Career and Technical Center website, are co-curricular programs that support you in applying your learning to real situations and developing leadership skills. When you join and participate in a CTSO you will have the opportunity to develop leadership skills through your class curricula and projects. These skills are supplemented with activities such as career competitions, educational symposiums, networking and workshops held at state conferences. The state conferences also include competition in skills such as public speaking, problem solving and demonstration of specific skills (e.g., food preparation, automobile repair, cosmetology, etc.).”