Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) is one of a variety of organizations offered to Wickenburg High School students, and is “life changing,” based on testimonials from its five officers, President Bobbi Schmidt, Vice President of Career Development Patience Langley, Vice President of Finances Cienna Bungard, Vice President of Marketing Anthony “Tony” Dennis and Vice President of Leadership Elina Landeros.
In a recent meeting with The Sun, the five explained why they are so appreciative of the organization, and how their involvement in DECA has changed their lives.
A business management organization, Wickenburg High School DECA prepares students for leadership and entrepreneurship in marketing, finance, hospitality, and management by teaching common sense business skills through presentations, role-play and various creative competitions at state, national and even international levels. Open to students from freshman to senior, the only requirement to be a DECA member is that students must have passing grades in order to participate in the conferences throughout the year. At the conferences, students compete in various ways, including being given real-life scenarios before a judge, and finding solutions to real life business problems that a CEO might face.
For example, Langley was given the situation where she was the head of 25 board members who were going off on a retreat, and she had to create a way for them to have fun.
The situations are never the same.
“It can be from having a happy customer to the building’s burning down,” said Dennis. “We just have no idea.”
According to the officers, the scenarios prepare them for the business world and initiate creative thinking, producing a sense of confidence and accomplishment.
“I was in a class with Patience before DECA, and she doesn’t even remember me,” said Schmidt. “I was so quiet – now I’m outgoing. I’ve definitely learned social skills.”
According to Bungard, she was terrified of public speaking.
“DECA’s given me experience,” she said with a grin. “Now I can branch out and talk. I was a follower, and now – even outside of DECA – I’m a leader.”
“When I was a freshman and sophomore I was quiet,” said Langley. “I always kept my head down. Now, if I’m in a room most people know because I’m loud.”
Dennis said he was always afraid of DECA, he thought it was only for “the smart kids,” but decided to join, and after a presentation in front of his class his teacher praised him, telling him it was the best she’d seen in many years.
The DECA advisor is Denise Rogers, and she has earned admiration and respect from the students.
“Miss Rogers is here for us,” said Langley. “We spend a lot of time together and she’s become one of my highest role models. I call her ‘Mom.’”
“She has high expectations for us, but she’s very accepting,” said Schmidt. “It helps people to see things in a different light. It’s great to have a teacher who holds us to such expectations. We’re like family.”
Students looking for a life-changing experience can talk to a DECA member or contact Denise Rogers.