By Ivy Lam
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s DECA program has broken a record for the 2020-21 school year.
DECA has over 250 students at MSD qualifying to compete at the 61st Annual Florida DECA Career Development Conference. This is around a 25 percent increase in numbers from last year, and students and advisors alike are ecstatic to see what they can achieve this year.
As one of the three DECA advisors, Lisa Webster, Academy of Finance teacher, said they were all extremely proud of their students’ hard work in their papers, projects, and testing events.
Winners at the district level are typically determined by their papers, test scores, and presentations. Those who do well in the Broward region, typically the top 15, advance to the next level.
Traditionally, the state competition is held in Orlando, where dozens of DECA chapters from across Florida come together to compete. However, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the event will be held virtually in March.
Since the event will be online, students will record and upload their presentations and roleplays, which will be judged against other competitors in their respective events. Many members have been working towards this moment for months.
“For my event, I spent over 100 hours researching, writing, and preparing my paper, really thinking about how to take my paper to the next level,” said Lexie Sealy, co-president of DECA. “When I made it to states, I was so excited. I worked extra hard this year because I wanted to end my senior year by making it to state and international competition.”
At MSD, several members make it to the state level more than once. Knowing this, many hope to make it to the highest level at the International Career Development Conference, which was supposed to be held in Anaheim, California, this year. This special occasion is also virtual.
Lexi Tracton, DECA co-president, said this was her fourth and final time making it to the state competition.
“Our international competition was canceled last year, but I hope to place in the top 20 in the world this year. Even though this year is virtual, I’m really looking forward to honing in on the skills I’ve acquired from all these years of competing,’’ said Tracton.
Noting the substantial increase in district winners this year, the advisors and the officer team work around the clock to provide plenty of school activities and online resources to prepare students.
For instance, the officer team created DECA quizzes that mimic real tests from the past, which helped students understand what to expect with the real thing. Along with this, the competition team held Manual Monday’s and Testing Tuesday’s, which allowed members to practice questions and improve their papers.
“Every resource that was given to our members was made specifically to help members practice and understand what they might see when taking the test, understanding the reasoning behind every single question,” said Matthew Veerasammy, vice president of competition.
In addition to the online resources created and organized by the officer team, some members utilized the information they learned from their Hospitality & Tourism or Academy of Finance classes, two branches of the DECA curriculum. Nevertheless, most of the qualifiers look forward to competing and advancing to the international level.
“This was my first time competing, and I’m looking forward to the roleplay section of the state’s competition,” said freshman Arlanni Velez. “It is such an excitement to accomplish something you worked for, and I am looking forward to the upcoming years where I can actually attend the event in person.”
Considering the virtual aspect and the record-breaking number of competitors, the upcoming state competition will be one to remember for MSD’s DECA chapter. Registration for states will start February 5, with the actual event on Tuesday, Mar. 2, during the school day.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas students who qualified for states:
Jia Ying Chen
Douglas Da Palma
Lucas Da Palma
Luana De Vecchi
Iliana Waitze Zuckerman
Jai Wei Chen
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- Ivy Lam is a sophomore at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. This school year, she is an officer in DECA, Newspaper, and HOSA. Her favorite pastimes include reading, writing, and watching sunsets.
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