Students from Grand Island High School had a record-setting weekend in Lockport.
A team of 101 students in the school's DECA program traveled to Lockport High School Sunday, Jan. 6, for the annual Region 12 DECA competition. Fifty-seven returned with awards, the most Grand Island has ever had in the program's history.
More than 500 students competed in business-related events, according to Grand Island DECA advisor Cheryl Chamberlain,
Chamberlain said DECA competition "is like no other of its kind because local business leaders come out to help judge 30 scenario-based events." A typical event can include a 100-question test based on marketing, business administration or finance, followed by a role play where students address a typical business problem. GIHS senior Josh Ungaro, who competed in sports and entertainment marketing, a team event, with James Rustowicz, said in their category the duo had "15 minutes to plan and then 10 minutes to present" a program to promote a 3-D movie.
Ungaro said they went over practice tests and role plays in business class and study halls "to get our feet under us."
"Students who compete in hospitality, have a judge in the hospitality field, and the same goes for accounting, visual advertising, and human resources," according to Chamberlain, also co-president of the region.
Another winner Sunday was Nick Soos, who competed in marketing management. Two years ago, he went to nationals after placing third at state competition. Last year, he finished eighth at states. The secret to success in role plays, Soos said, is showing confidence in speaking, having an understanding of the subject matter, and "being well prepared with the different topics that you get addressed with, and being able to hit all the topics and the performance indicators and hit them in a manner that is unique and sets you apart from the other people competing."
Other award winners included juniors Sarah Dollendorf and Jake Athoe, who competed together in business laws and ethics. They placed first in regionals and 10th in states last year, Athoe said, and were out to prove that "last year wasn't a fluke."
"Nationals are in Anaheim this year, so we're really looking to go," Athoe added.
Dollendorf said competition and DECA instills "confidence and the strength to manage being able to talk in front of somebody. It develops public speaking skills."
"It steps you up and prepares you for life in general," she said. "It gives you the opportunity to be leaders and to learn from experience."