by Larry Austin
Students from Lewiston-Porter High School tested their business acumen against hundreds of others at the Region 12 DECA competition Sunday in the L-PHS auditorium.
Five DECA students from L-P came away with awards from the event and earned the right to advance to statewide competition in the State Career Conference in Rochester March 7, 8 and 9. Winners, and their events, were:
•Hannah Cupples in public speaking (prepared)
•Erin Kinz and Emily Mansour in sports and entertainment marketing (team)
•Lindsey Bailey in principles of marketing
•Austin Swart in business and finance
Nicole Alonzo, business teacher at Lewiston-Porter and the high school's advisor to the DECA club, said the school's DECA club is now in its fifth year.
"It's getting bigger every year," Alonzo said of the club. "At first, the students aren't quite sure what DECA is all about, and then once they start doing it gets a little bit better and a little bit better."
DECA is a business club designed to help students get the skills they need to be better in their careers and future employment, Alonzo said.
"Not only the kind of skills that you need in the job itself, the field in which you go into, but also those soft skills: team-building, how to be more confident, how to speak in front of other people, how to work with other people, how to manage your time. All those things you can take with you in all aspects of your life."
Additionally, DECA enhances the curricular work the students already do in the classroom.
"The business courses are very much about real world experience, and so we really try to make sure that everything we teach has that real world element to it," Alonzo said.
The Region 12 event at Lew-Port injected the spirit of competition into the learning experience. A typical competition would present a student with a problem and only a brief period of time to create a presentation before a group of judges. The judges were business members of the community.
"You're meeting people in business. If you're in a competition area like hotel and lodging, you're going to be meeting with a judge who works in hotel and lodging," said Cheryl Chamberlain, co-leader for Region 12 DECA.
"It's a competition, so if they're going to do well then they have to prepare, they have to study, they have to plan," Alonzo said. "There are some team events, so they have to learn how to work with another person and to work well together. And you find historically the students who get into DECA maybe in their freshman year or sophomore year and do it for three, four years, it's important to them. They realize that this is the kind of thing that they can put on a resume, that they can put on a college application because it's a very well known organization."
Students who earned awards and can then advance to the state competition continued a trend with the L-P DECA club.
"Every year so far we've always had winners here at Lew-Port go from regionals to states," Alonzo said. "One year we had winners go from the states to the national competition that was in Anaheim."