DECA dominates Districts

Cedar Falls DECA got their feet wet on Thursday, Jan. 24 at the District competition held at College Square Mall. Competing in the Travel and Tourism team event were juniors Elle Stackhouse and Ashley Holstun, who brought home 1st place, senior Natalie Rokes and junior Sami Schildroth, who took 3rd place, and the senior Brandon Bardal/junior Lewis Mickey team who received Honorable Mention.

“Before our role play, Elle and I decided to separate what we were going to talk about. It was easier for us to communicate back and forth smoothly with the judge because we’ve been friends for so long. Our test scores weren’t the best, but we got a 93 on our role play, which brought us home the gold,” Holstun said.

In Apparel and Accessories Marketing, junior Jordan Caruso took 3rd place. Junior Lauren Eastman and senior Wyatt Kroemer were awarded Honorable Mention in Accounting Applications and Retail Merchandising respectively. In the Hospitality Team event, seniors Lindsey Davis and Laura Schwickerath took 3rd place while senior Chris Dobson was rewarded with a 2nd place in Restaurant Marketing.

Competition included a 100-question test and role play where students could perform as a team or participate individually. Among other competing teams were Waverly, Cedar Rapids Jefferson, Oelwein, Hampton-Dumont and Tripoli.

Senior Natalie Rokes is the DECA District 1 Co-Vice President. Rokes played a big role in the preparation and management of the District competition. “I had to help meet with the mall manager beforehand to rent the space needed for the competition. I also had to correspond with the other state officers and advisers in District,” Rokes said.

As a DECA VP, Rokes has to spend a lot of time planning for events not only like Districts, but State as well. During the summer, she made many trips to Des Moines to meet with other officers and prepare for the Fall conference. She also had to attend a leadership conference herself.

Students involved in DECA gain real world business experience that is hard to find elsewhere. The District competition serves as a sort of practice round before State. All who participate at Districts are welcome to move on to State, regardless of how well they performed. It helps participants see where they need to improve so that they can place at the State level and advance to Nationals, held in Anaheim, Calif., in April.

“To improve, I can take the practice tests Mr. Flaherty gave us and study those, but besides that, I can’t do much more. Taking business and econ classes has helped though,” Kroemer said.

“I feel I could have gotten better than an honorable mention at Districts. I’m not sure about all the scores and how I did compared to other kids in the role play, but I do know I got the highest test score in my event and a good role play score, but I’m not worried about it because it was just practice for State.”

Students who didn’t perform well at last year’s Districts saw vast improvement this year.

“Last year my partner and I didn’t even receive honorable mention, so placing 3rd was a definite improvement. I feel pretty good moving into the State competition after placing third with my partner,” Schwickerath said. “I think if we work on the practice tests together, we will be able to improve our test scores and have an advantage over the competition.”

No matter the outcome of the scores, DECA teaches useful skills such as communication and professionalism. Not only is it an effective experience, but it offers a chance for some friendly competition and is a good opportunity to enhance business skills.

“I think it’s a great experience, and it’s pertinent because I’m going into business in college. Nationals is in Anaheim this year, so I definitely plan on placing at State,” Kroemer said.

“I do it to win,” Schwickerath said.

The State competition is held in Des Moines the last weekend of February.

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