This article originally appeared on The Ashburn Buzz and was written by
Ashburn, Va. (April 6, 2015) – DECA is a marketing club that stands for Distributive Education Clubs of America—although most are unaware of the meaning and simply refer to the club by its acronym. In order to become a member, you must first be taking one of the various marketing classes offered at Stone Bridge. Virginia DECA is the largest chapter in the country with about 14,000 students, and within that, Stone Bridge is the largest chapter in the state and has won numerous awards for its size, school enterprise, and sponsors. It’s a fantastic club that aims to improve students’ presentation skills, provide an understanding of the business world, and provide new opportunities for students.
Organizing fundraisers, community service projects, and community outreach programs are just a few of the things DECA does. They’re the ones behind the pink games, the blood drives, the heart heath awareness games, the food drives, and countless other projects that Bulldogs take part in—and that’s just to name a few. Most of these community service projects, fundraisers, and events are carried out as a part of DECA projects.
With over 300 members, DECA is by far Stone Bridge’s largest club. Their goal? Make it to the International Career and Development Conference (ICDC). But first comes states. In order to advance to the ICDC, contestants have to rank in the highest section of their judge. Within the Stone Bridge chapter, about 100 members chose to compete at in the state competition this year. They traveled to Virginia Beach to present their projects and compete for a spot at the ICDC along with thousands of others.
When competing, you can chose to compete by yourself or in teams of two. You or your team can choose to do a role-play, personal selling, or written essay. For role-plays, you must first take a test, and then when you compete you’re given a scenario and a set amount of time to prepare and present it. For personal selling events, you have to take a test as well, but you know ahead of time what you’ll be presenting and what you need to do. For written essays, you must write a 6 to 30 page paper; some written categories require a test, but most do not. The papers are written ahead of time and can correspond with a fundraising or awareness event, such as World Sight Day, which was done by Bianca Mostert, Jordan Johnson, and Anthony York. They raised awareness for World Sight Day by handing out sunglasses to students, and then they wrote a paper about it. At the competition, you present your written projects to a judge and get a score on your paper and presentation.
DECA members left for Virginia Beach early February 27, states bound. On the first day of the competition weekend, members from all over the state arrived and checked in to their hotels. There they received their competition times, their judge, and a t-shirt, however everyone was required to wear business attire, meaning a blazer. Afterwards, dinner was held for everyone in the convention center, followed by the opening session.
“States is a really exciting time for everyone to show how hard they’ve been working over the past few months,” remarked senior Bianca Mostert. Everyone had been preparing for what seemed like forever, and they were ready to show the judges what they’re capable of.
The next day, competitors arrived at the convention center for their competition slots, which were spread out between 9 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon. After everyone finished presenting, they returned to their hotels. Stone Bridge students hung out, socialized, and ate dinner. Then at 7, everyone reunited at the first Grand Awards session where role plays and personal selling presentations were called up in recognition of high test scores, high presentation scores, or in some cases both.
“I was really excited just to hear my name be called, then I found out that I got two medals, one for high test score, and the other for high presentation score!” recalled sophomore Meredith Robbins excitedly.
After the Grand Awards session came the DECA dance, and the next morning was the second Grand Awards ceremony. This was when everyone found out whether or not they would be advancing to the ICDC. Unfortunately, due to bad weather, Stone Bridge members had to leave before the winners were announced. But luckily, Virginia DECA live-tweeted those who were advancing in each category.
“Almost everyone on the bus was refreshing Twitter or texting their friends that were still there,” said senior Arianne Carter. As they discovered who made the cut, tiny celebrations erupted. “Every time we found out that someone from Stone Bridge was advancing, everyone cheered for them and got excited,” added junior Jake Pehlke.
Everyone arrived back in Ashburn mid-afternoon on March 1, exhausted and eager to sleep in their own beds. 34 Bulldogs will be advancing to the ICDC between April 24 and 29. They’ll travel to Orlando, Fla. and compete nationally with an incredible 18,000 other contestants. Whether they win or lose, qualifying is an enormous accomplishment in the first place, and their remarkable success brings pride to the halls of Stone Bridge.