Woodland Regional High School is a part of a great organization called DECA. DECA was introduced to Woodland by principal, Kurt Ogren, who knew about the organization since it was a strong organization at his last school.
Ogren knew exactly who to ask about leading the organization. He asked history teacher, Christopher Tomlin, who is one of the two advisors for DECA and in charge of the DECA store.
“ I had talked to Ms. Jenna Broadbent ahead of time,” said Tomlin. “We coach together so advising together made sense.”
According to the DECA website, “DECA prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management in high schools and colleges around the globe… DECA is organized into two unique student divisions each with programs designed to address the learning styles, interest and focus of its members…. ”
And with two new divisions, and two new advisors, Woodland DECA was born. Tomlin revealed that the store had previously had been a part of a defunct different business club and it made sense to combine it with DECA since DECA often runs school stores. The school store is ran like a regular business. To receive the opportunity to become a DECA store employee one would have to become a chapter member and get “hired.” The employees of the store have to stock shelves, clean the stores, and serve the customers. The store attempts to be open every block but sometimes that is not possible. The store sells school supplies, clothing, food, and water.
Broadbent also plans on focusing on the store. “Bringing in new products that students need as well as introducing our first online store for clothing. We hope to keep the online store running all year and change the apparel/items offered to match the season/time of year.”
Tomlin has big plans for DECA this year. “To continue to develop as a chapter and organization, keep our programs and expand them,” said Tomlin. “This is a weird year; we graduated the last of our founding members last year so no one remembers a time without there being a chapter. It makes it very exciting!”
Broadbent, a math teacher, is in charge of the competition part of DECA.
“I really enjoyed attending SCDC [State Career Development Conference] and ICDC [International Career Development Conference] last year and hope that we can get more students involved and interested in the competition side of DECA,” said Broadbent. Broadbent understands most people think that DECA is just a school store, but it is so much more than that. “Most students think its sole purpose is to run the school store but there is so much more to it. We foster relationships with local businesses, help our community through fundraisers and other events, we learn about the many aspects of business and test our knowledge through the state and international competitions. I want DECA to be a name that every student and teacher recognizes.” Broadbent is very focused on the community and giving back this year. This year we plan on continuing with our “All Hands On” event as well as the “Feed Back” event (PB&J sandwich). We also want to add a few more community service events this year as well as a school activity for students and faculty. ”
The first part of participating in the DECA competitions is the participant needs to decide which competition they would like to participate in. The event they chose determines if they are working alone, with a partner, or in a group of three. The competitions are not all the same.
“Some events consist of a 100 question cluster exam (in advance) followed by one or two role plays on the day of competition (given a scenario or problem to fix and must present in front of judges),” said Broadbent.
At first the competitors compete at state level which is SCDC, held in the beginning of March. It is held in Southington at the Aqua Turf, for the whole day. The international competition is ICDC which is held in the middle of April. The location rotates every year between Atlanta, Georgia, Orlando, Florida, Nashville, Tennessee and Anaheim. California.
“At SCDC the cluster exams are taken a month in advance and all papers are submitted early as well,” said Broadbent.
The day of competition lasts the whole day. At competition, role plays and presentations are performed in front of judges. The team arrives at Aqua Turf between 7:30-8:00 in the morning and they sit down for dinner, results, and awards around 4:00 at night. This is usually concluded around 5:30-6:00 at night and the the team heads back to Woodland. ICDC takes place over the course of multiple days. On the first day the team goes through registration, receives information about where they need to be for their event, and at what time they will be competing. Competition lasts between two to three days. When students are not competing, they are studying or practicing their presentations. The students also get time to visit sites in the area. On the last day there is a huge award ceremony at night. At the award ceremony, the students do their pin exchange and each state brings another item to trade. The pins are a big deal and states get really creative with this. Each state holds a pin design contest in the beginning of the school year to design the pin for ICDC. Trying to collect as many pins as possible is one of the most exciting parts of the trip.
So with competition season approaching and the store open, DECA celebrates its fifth anniversary this year. With Tomlin and Broadbent still at the helm, they are excited about what they are going to go on and create.
“I was interested in the challenge,” said Tomlin. “It is not often that you have the opportunity to create something new.”