Over 230 Marjory Stoneman Douglas DECA Students Compete at the State Level 3
Photo Caption: In preparation for the state competition, the MSD DECA chapter has hosted weekly practice sessions after school to help students. Guest judges, officers, and advisors offer competitors a chance to present their role plays or presentations and receive feedback and advice. {Photo by Carly Rogalla}

By Ivy Lam

For the 2022-2023 school year, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School DECA chapter will send over 230 students to the state competition.

Named the third-largest chapter in the world, MSD DECA is in the midst of preparing students for role-plays and presentations. Distinctive factors in securing a win in the upcoming month.

The Florida DECA Career Development Conference will be held from Thursday, March 2, to Sunday, March 5, at the Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista. 

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“DECA at Stoneman Douglas is co-curricular, so that means that students are participating inside the classroom, learning finance or hospitality, and then outside the classroom, working as competitors,” said LJ Russinoff, DECA president. “Both of these go hand in hand and teach students all different knowledge, like finance management, hospitality, and marketing.”

Members who score in the top 16 of their respective category at the district level–determined by their test scores, papers, and presentations–advance to the state level. The top six in each category at the state level then advance to the international level and compete against other states.

Most competitors registered with a testing event completed their testing today in the media center. However, they still have to prepare their role-plays and presentations for the state conference in less than one month.

“Our chapter has taken extra steps this year to make sure students are more than ready,” said Carly Rogalla, executive vice president. “We do this by hosting after-school practices every day of the week where officers and experienced leaders in our chapter help prepare students in testing, role-plays, and presentations.”

This school year, all competitors are required to attend a weekly practice session in preparation for states. Because the role-play is weighted more than the test, which most competitors take, MSD DECA has implemented three role-play dates. Competitors must attend at least one of the dates: February 15, February 16, or February 21.

“We have members from the Parkland Chamber and Coral Springs Chamber, business partners, and then some of our parents that are in the business community come out and actually judge these students to help them prepare,” said Sharon Cutler, DECA advisor, and Academy of Finance teacher. “What’s great about having them come out first is that they get a chance to see the quality of our students and get to give feedback to the students.”

When students go to the state competition, they present before a judge and do not receive feedback afterward. To fill this gap, the chapter provides guest judges to score student presentations and role-plays according to the actual rubrics used. MSD DECA specially provides mentoring and additional resources to prepare students for success.

“These prep days are simulated like the DECA state competition. But the big difference is that at the end of the presentation, these business partners can sit with the students and give them some tips,” said Cutler.

Beyond the opportunity to compete at the district, state, and international levels, DECA has provided students with critical thinking skills and career aspirations.

“DECA has played an important role in my life by teaching me skills I can use in the workplace and how to interact with my peers,” said Rogalla. “Rather than it being just another club to put on my resume, it’s actually preparing me for things I can use in the real world, such as how to participate in an interview, how to run a business, and how to budget.”

On the other hand, many members cite their DECA achievements on their resumes and college applications.

“I’ve qualified for states all four years and qualified for international competition two out of three years,” said Russinoff. “I feel like DECA has provided me with an incredible financial background that will give me a leg up compared to the other students at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business.”

As state competition approaches, the four DECA advisors–Cutler, Lisa Webster, Mitchell Albert, and McKenzie Malone–along with the officer team, continue to provide resources for the members to advance past the Florida level to the international stage.

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Author Profile

Ivy Lam
Ivy Lam
Ivy Lam is a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. This school year, she is the National Honor Society President, Eagle Eye Newspaper Editor, and Senior Class Senator. Her interests include writing, research, and public policy, all of which she will pursue further in college.
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