"Striking Gold" was the theme as 56 Grand Island High School DECA students traveled to Rochester last week in search of success in the business world.
New York DECA has 102 school chapters and Grand Island was one of the largest to represent Region 12, which accounts for 15 of those chapters. DECA is an international, co-curricular business and marketing club with 170,000 members worldwide. Membership can even continue into college. Twenty-eight students medaled in the top 10 of their events as there were over 1,700 students competing at the conference. Some of the top winners were Mary Kneer and Marissa Gress, pictured, who won first and third respectively in broadcast advertising; Kourtney Hoppel won second place for a yearlong chapter scrapbook; Anthony Cataffo took fourth place for sports and entertainment marketing; and the team of Lydia Bernatovicz and Keelan Erhard won first place for buying and merchandising team decision making.
Cataffo, Bernatovicz and Erhard were in national-based events and qualified for the International Career Development Conference in Anaheim, Calif., next month.
In addition, eight students from Grand Island were accepted into the New York DECA Honor Society: Sara Carlson, Sarah Chamberlain, Sam Clarke, Courtney Collignon, Ruby Kaur, Marina Scerra, James Rustowicz and Joshua Ungaro. GI DECA was also recognized on stage for fundraising efforts for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society this past year through events at Casey's Corner School Store. Advisor Cheryl Chamberlain was honored to receive the "Outstanding Advisor" award and was presented a plaque on stage at the conference.
"I have the greatest students who took time to nominate me for this prestigious award," said Chamberlain. She also offered, "This conference is such a great experience for students because they utilize everything they learn in school about acting and behaving in a professional business manner; it is truly career and college readiness skill building."
Local business leader Andy Bernatovicz volunteered his time to judge various events at the conference and Grand Island High School Vice Principal Mike Lauria visited during the competition on Thursday to see, firsthand, what students were competing in.
"People are always amazed at how much goes into preparing students for competition," according to Chamberlain. "With the size of our chapter at Grand Island Middle and High School, it is a great help that Christopher Simpson and Mary Jane Fonte are also involved as co-advisors. I share my award with them because they are always willing to help the students achieve in DECA."