To say that Cuba High School’s DECA club had a successful first year would be a huge understatement. Students from the extracurricular organization more than exceeded their initial goals by sending members to the state and international competitions.
The DECA organization was formed in the last school year in conjunction with the high school marketing class taught by club sponsor Roger Siwak. The group began with 14 students from the class participating in it. DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) is an international nonprofit organization for high school and college students that prepares future business leaders and entrepreneurs in areas of marketing, finance, hospitality, and management.
In February, 12 DECA members from Cuba High competed at the district level against several larger schools at Jefferson City. Students competed in areas including marketing, business management and administration, hospitality and tourism, and finance.
Four students from the Cuba club advanced from the district competition to the state conference that took place in Kansas City in March. They included Simon Siebert, Giorgia Medows, Audrey Williams, and Hailee Crow. Medows and Crow finished among the top four in their respective divisions at state – Medows in Principles of Hospitality and Tourism, Crow in Principles of Business Administration – and they qualified for the international DECA conference held at Orlando.
“That’s good for our first year,” said Siwak. “The students really put in the time and did phenomenally. In our district, we competed against some schools much bigger than us, and the competition at Orlando was intense. It was really competitive at every level, and our kids were up to the task.”
More than 20,000 students and sponsors were part of the international conference, called ICDC, and there were 200 competitors in each of the competitive categories. Medows was up to the task, and she finished high enough in her group to receive an award of excellence.
Siwak said Giorgia did “darn good” at Orlando and was a great representative for Cuba High School.
In March, DECA went to Chicago, where the group spent two nights and toured the Ferrara Candy Company, meeting with their marketing executives. They year, they also participated in a focus group with two businesses in Cuba and helped raise funds for the high school weight training room.
Siwak said the trip to Chicago was a lot of fun for everybody, and it was a great learning experience, too. “We met with their marketing team and talked about how they study their brands and marketing trends, for example, we learned how they work with retailers to decide how product should be presented on shelves, what color schemes will catch a customer’s eye, and about buying display space at retailers,”Siwak said. “The students learned a lot from it. We talked with several members of their team. The kids were interested in what they had to say. It was pretty cool.”
Siebert, Williams, and Siwak attended the May meeting of the Crawford County R-2 Board of Education to discuss DECA’s accomplishments over the past year. Siwak congratulated his marketing class for their hard work throughout the year, while Siebert and Williams gave school board members some insight into what the competitions were like.
Siebert said it was definitely a positive thing to have four students qualify for state in their first-ever competitive event and an even bigger success to have two of the four go on to the international conference. “In our first year, we were able to compete in four events, and we advanced to state in three of those four,” he said. “It was a pretty successful first year for us.”
Williams acknowledged that “without Mr. Siwak and a lot of practice, we wouldn’t have made it as far as we did this year.”
Siwak stated he hopes to see even more DECA success next year. The plan is to expand the curriculum to include both general marketing and sports and entertainment marketing classes at the high school next year.
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