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SBRHS Students Attend International Business Competition in California

Colby Yokell, Co-Editor

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When nine Somerset Berkley students’ names were called for some of the highest scoring performances in their respective categories at the Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) state competition, they could hardly believe what they were hearing: they were going to attend the DECA International Career Development Conference in Anaheim, California.

This year, 2 SBRHS seniors, Haley Chase and Haley Langton, 6 juniors, Michael Ferreira, Hunter Dusio, Abigail Cadorette, Jillian Levesque, Kara Kanuse, and Sarah Wilson, and 1 sophomore, Mike Gagliardi, flew out to California to compete in this year’s DECA International Competition for a period of six days in April.

DECA is a business competition that prepares people in high school and colleges around the world for careers in marketing, hospitality and tourism, and business management.

In the DECA competitions, students have the choice to compete as individuals or partners. The categories that participants can compete in usually reflect what business classes the students have taken at SBRHS or the categories that are available to them when they choose at the beginning of the school year.

In the international competition, most of the SBRHS students competed in group categories like Buying and Merchandising Team Decision Making, Marketing Management Team Decision Making, and Sports and Entertainment Marketing Team Decision Making.

The DECA competition consists of two parts: an exam the competitors have to take that tests their knowledge in their respective category and a role play they must perform in front of multiple judges. The role plays consist of different scenarios and problems relating to the team or individual’s category. The competitors must then find a solution to this problem that is both creative and innovative. In order to score well, competitors must have good scores in both categories since both parts of the competition influence the final results.

The international competition was very different than both the district and state competitions these students competed in previously in order to make it to Anaheim, California.

The international competition was on a much larger scale; there were close to 200 teams in certain categories. The competition was also a lot more competitive: everyone at the international competition had placed in the top 6 in their state competition in their respective category.

In the district and state competitions, the groups competing took the exam that tested their knowledge on their respective category together. However, at the international competition, partners in a competing group had to take the test individually.

The competitors also had a lot more down-time and more independence during the international competition compared to the district and state competitions. Michael Ferreira, a two-year DECA member, said that “it’s a lot more lax and we had a lot more freedom. Over the course of six days we didn’t do as much DECA as we would have when we were at states where, over the course of two and a half days, it’s constant DECA.”

Furthermore, in the international competition, each participant that attended was guaranteed to perform one role play but had to be invited back for the second one. Although none of the SBRHS competitors were invited back for a second role play, there were many finalists from Massachusetts. Chase, Langton, Ferreira, Dusio, Cadorette, Levesque, Kanuse, Wilson, and Gagliardi each received an Award of Excellence, which signified that they scored above-average in their category. Mrs. Ayer, the advisor of the DECA program at SBRHS, stated that “this honor is not easy to attain.”

Also during the competition, seniors, three-year participants, and co-presidents of the DECA program at Somerset Berkley, Haley Langton and Haley Chase, had the opportunity to attend a two-day leadership conference called Aspire. Langton and Chase both agreed that the conference was eye-opening. At Aspire, Langton and Chase were immediately told to separate not only from each other but also from anyone else from Massachusetts so that they would have the opportunity to meet other students from all over the world. “They become your friends away from home,” said Langton.

Langton and Chase also participated in small activities at the conference that relate to leadership and DECA. For example, Haley Langton said that one of the most eye-opening activities they did taught her that in order to have a successful day without an overflow of stress, one must focus on the big priorities first and worry about the small minutia of life later. Haley Chase said that the conference allowed her to meet a few people from Las Vegas that made her realize just how many opportunities the business world holds: “They own 3 businesses and a non-profit organization. One is only a junior in high school and the other is a senior.”

While in Anaheim, California for the DECA International Career Development Conference, the SBRHS students saw Downtown Disney, ESPN Zone, Rainforest Café, the Earl of Sandwich, Disneyland, and Disney’s Adventure Park. Everyone had the opportunity to visit Disney’s Universal Studios for a DECA night in which the entire park was closed off just for DECA students.

All of the students that attended the international competition in Anaheim agreed that doing so was eye-opening — from seeing a new part of the country to learning about the cultures of people all over the world.

One of the eye-opening moments that DECA partners and two-year DECA participants Michael Ferreira and Hunter Dusio experienced was meeting a competitor from Alaska. The student from Alaska asked Ferreira and Dusio if New Englanders really ate lobster every day. Ferreira said it was eye-opening to “realize those conceptions that we had about them and those they had about us. It gives you a better perspective on different cultures.” Dusio said that this interaction between different cultures also “gave us insight on our own culture, too.”

Mrs. Ayer said that the student from Alaska also showed photographs and shared stories of his home, North Pole, Alaska. One of the photos had a polar bear in the middle of a stadium because the animal somehow managed to get onto the field during a game and, of course, the stadium had to be cleared.

DECA partners and two-year DECA members Abigail Cadorette and Jillian Levesque were surprised when they were ordering food and asked for a coffee milk and no one in California knew what coffee milk was. In fact, they were asked if it was simply coffee with some milk poured in it. Cadorette and Levesque realized that “the world is so much bigger than Somerset, Massachusetts. It really put into perspective that there’s so many opportunities and people around the world.”

One of the surprising moments for senior Haley Langton came when other students from around the country told the SBRHS competitors that when they were apart from each other, they did not have a Boston accent. However, when they were together in a group, the accent became so strong that it sounded almost like a different language.

Mike Gagliardi, who was the only SBRHS student to compete individually in the DECA International Competition this year and one-year DECA participant, noticed that “we’re teenagers that come from all different parts of the world and, while we’re really different, we’re also exactly the same.”

The journey to and competition in Anaheim impacted the SBRHS competitors immensely. Hunter Dusio explained that it solidified his decision to pursue a career in business administration. For Haley Langton, attending the leadership conference and meeting people from around the world opened her eyes to all of the opportunities that are out there.

Sarah Wilson said that going to California and seeing all the opportunities that there are in the business world has made her strongly believe she will pursue a career in something business-related. “Even just being in a completely different environment made me consider moving to the West Coast!” said Wilson.

Kara Kanuse, Sarah Wilson’s competition partner, said that DECA taught her how to present and speak in front of an audience with ease. “DECA has created so many opportunities and so many memories that will last a lifetime,” said Kanuse.

Next year’s DECA International Career Development Conference will be held in Atlanta, Georgia. Juniors Kara Kanuse and Sarah Wilson will become co-presidents, sophomores Guy Parenteau and Mike Gagliardi will become co-vice presidents, junior Michael Ferreira will be returning to the position of treasurer, and juniors Abigail Cadorette and Jillian Levesque will return to their positions of fundraising chairs. Junior Connor Ryder and sophomore Elizabeth McDonald will be joining Cadorette and Levesque.

Mrs. Ayer said that she expects the seven underclassmen who made it to Anaheim to do the same next year. “These students showed true dedication not only to getting themselves to the International Career Development Conference, but in leading the rest of the team to do their best as well,” said Mrs. Ayer. “Every one of my officers worked hard behind the scenes to make 2016-2017 DECA a great success. They know what it takes to get to Atlanta and will help others to get there as well.”








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SBRHS Students Attend International Business Competition in California