DECA students get serious about joys of business world

Competition: Thirty-three Howard High students took home 46 awards and a third place at a state leadership development conference on dealing with problems of the workplace.

March 29, 2000|By Diane Mikulis | Diane Mikulis,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Students at Howard High School are getting serious about business careers by taking some tough classes and participating in a business organization that gives them practical experience and networking opportunities.

This month,33 Howard students traveled to Hagerstown to participate in the Maryland State Leadership Development Conference sponsored by DECA, a student organization that focuses on business management, entrepreneurship and marketing.

The group brought home 46 recognition awards for performances in competitive events, enough to put it in third place in the state.

FOR THE RECORD - In yesterday's Howard County edition of The Sun, sophomore Derrick Jameson's name was misspelled in an article about Howard High School's DECA organization. The Sun regrets the errors.

For each event, the students took a written test and participated in two role-playing situations in which they had to solve business problems.

Categories included financial management, sports marketing, free enterprise economics, international marketing and retail merchandising among others.

For their performance at the conference, four students -- Kim Hair, Kate Tyson, Hillary Cole and Ruchia Vyas -- will attend DECA's national conference at the end of April in Louisville, Ky.

At a recent DECA chapter meeting at the school, the students shared conference experiences with other members. Everyone was impressed with the collection of trophies that were brought back from the meeting.

Chapter Vice President Alexis Ohanian, a junior, worked hard to place first in vehicles and petroleum marketing. At the meeting, he recalled that when he decided to enter that category, "I groaned and I said, `I don't know how to pump gas.' "

For sophomore Yifei Bai, the categories she entered were more in line with her experiences and interests -- travel and tourism marketing management and international marketing.

"I like to see places," she said, "and I've been to places like China and Japan."

She earned second- and third-place trophies.

With 127 members, the Howard High chapter of DECA is busy with activities each month. A trip to New York City is being planned and will include visits to the New York Stock Exchange and NBC studios.

DECA was formed in 1946 as the Distributive Education Clubs of America. Over time, as the membership changed, the name no longer represented its purpose but the group kept the acronym.

Debra Dear, a teacher and DECA adviser, said the organization is one part of a new focus on business at Howard High. Starting next year, students will have the opportunity to participate in an Academy of Finance, which is as Dear described it: "A school within a school."

More than 40 freshmen and sophomores have applied for the academy in which they will follow a curriculum that includes accounting, banking and credit, economics and international finance. Each student also will take a college course and will serve an internship at a local business the summer before senior year.

At graduation, the students will receive a certificate of financial studies from the National Academy Foundation, which oversees the program.

Dear, who piloted the Academy of Finance in Baltimore County and served as Lansdowne High School's academy coordinator for five years, also will coordinate Howard's program.

The students are excited about the program.

"I've thought of being an entrepreneur," said sophomore Kyle Johnson. "This will also help with leadership skills."

DECA President Hillary Cole, a sophomore, has plans to become a chef and open a restaurant. She expects that being in the Academy of Finance will help prepare her to manage her business.

Since the curriculum covers four years, students who begin it during their junior year will have to make up several courses.

"It's worth it to take advantage of the opportunity," said sophomore Derric Jameson. "I'm willing to double up."

Principal Mary Day is enthusiastic about the high level of student interest in the academy and in DECA.

"It helps the students get focused," she said. "It gives them opportunities for career exploration."

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