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The student news site of Westford Academy

WA Ghostwriter

The student news site of Westford Academy

WA Ghostwriter

Two freshmen and one junior achieve top ten in National DECA Conference

Provided by Leehan
ICDC attendees gather for a photo after an ice cream social

The 2024 DECA International Career Development Conference (ICDC) took place in Anaheim, California from April 27 to April 30. At the conference, WA freshmen Rushi Patel and Krisha Gami along with junior Sahil Dua placed in the top 10 of their respective events, returning with awards.

Patel and Gami both took part in the Principles of Business Administration event, placing third and seventh respectively, and Dua placed second in Business Finance.

Patel and Dua brought home glass trophies while Gami brought home a medallion.

The Business Finance event entails corporate finance scenarios. Competitors are given a balance or income sheet and must analyze it. With this, they find important ratios and calculations to present to the judges.

The Business Administration event revolved around management administration principles. This included many different topics such as human resources, marketing, and economics.

Although ICDC is the final step, the DECA students’ journey began at the district level in January, and then the State Career Development Conference (SCDC) in March. 

The top 5 students in each event during the district competition were able to advance to the SCDC, and the top 6 students from SCDC moved on to ICDC. WA originally took 247 students to districts, 120 to states, and finally 51 to nationals. According to club advisor and business teacher Sarah Ricard, this is a very high number compared to surrounding towns and past years. As freshmen, this was Patel and Gami’s first time attending ICDC, whereas it was Dua’s third.

“This is my third time at ICDC, I made it my freshman and sophomore years too so a lot of prep from over there carried over into this competition,” Dua said. 

The three-day competition consisted of two parts: a test portion consisting of 100 multiple-choice questions, and a role-play portion. In a role-play, students are given a real-world business situation pertaining to their chosen event. They are then given 10 minutes to prepare their response to the situation and 10 minutes to present to a judge, making sure to touch upon provided performance indicators.

“For each role-play, we essentially have a topic, for example, human resources management, economics, or financial analysis,” Gami said. “Then you’re given a scenario and there are different points that you have to touch upon, talk about in your role-play, and incorporate.”

All students presented their responses to the topic, and if their performance gave them a high-enough ranking–as was the case for Patel, Gami, and Dua–they would participate in an additional role-play to determine their final ranking.

As role-plays are such a major aspect of DECA, students spend an extensive amount of time practicing them during club meetings leading up to the competitions. During these club meetings, students used various techniques to practice. Some of these included flashcards, practice role plays and tests, and exemplars. This year there was a new resource available to WA DECA called DECA Plus which offered various extra resources that were easily teachable and integrated into a classroom.

“To me, WA students seemed even more confident, prepared, and excited about the events [this year],” senior DECA officer Rhythm Arora said.

Some students will also choose to do projects instead of role-plays. These are less high intensity and stress as students can work on them before they must present it at the competition. What students decide to do at the competition is completely up to them and all depends on personal preference. If a student prefers to just study topics and prepare for multiple situations a role-play is much more suitable, just as Patel, Gami, and Dua did.

As far as the role-plays go, there are different options that may appeal more to different students. The role-plays will always be a presentation to a single judge and competitors can either choose to do it by themselves or in pairs. The winners of the different events do not solely depend on who scores highest as different judges score differently, so it is weighted on a variety of factors.

If a student feels they are worried about an upcoming competition there are many resources available at ICDC itself. They can always talk to club advisors such as Ricard or Business teacher and advisor Kathleen Lehan. There are also club officers who are there as leaders and mentors or simply just to lend a helping hand.

“Confidence is key, everyone was really nervous so I just tried to not be,” Patel said, “Like, if I could give one piece of advice to future DECA students, it would be to be really confident whenever doing the role plays […] because 99% of it is confidence. If you’re confident your judge can see that and they know you know what you’re saying.”

Although the trip is hard work, every year DECA students and advisers enjoy practicing their presentation skills and traveling. It is a large event that causes a buzz throughout all students participating.

“My favorite part of DECA watching students prepare, get excited, go through the DECA experience, and ultimately develop their confidence,” Ricard said.

While the actual ICDC competition is only three days long, WA’s trip to Anaheim lasted six days total, as students left on April 26 and returned on May 1.  They spent their nights in the Embassy Suites Hotel and in their free time during the day, they were able to explore Anaheim and nearby Los Angeles, spend time at Disneyland and Universal Studios, and more. 

“We [were] there for 5 days, so [we] had a lot of time to interact with [our] friends, go to Disneyland or Universal, and make memories over there,” Dua said. “Eating new foods and meeting new people […] was a big highlight.”

After this year’s successful experience in Anaheim, WA’s DECA’s participants is already looking ahead to next year’s ICDC, which will be held in Orlando, Florida. Patel, Gami, and Dua hope to attend again and utilize new skills gained from this year’s competition.

“I just feel like the entire experience is a learning one. This was the first time I’ve done it, so [I picked] up a lot of tips and tricks. You find out what works for you and what doesn’t work for you,” Gami said. “I feel like for me [….] next year, I would just focus more on tests […] and keeping up with business trends.“

The competitors are aiming even higher for upcoming competitions and plan to put in the extra preparation necessary to fix their weaknesses and achieve their goals. Some are planning to work on preparation to decrease anxiety surrounding competition day while some simply just want to work on their role-playing and speaking in front of the judges.

While DECA’s primary focus is preparing students for success in business-related areas such as finance, marketing, business management, and hospitality, many of the skills practiced can be applied across nearly every field, making it a club that is open to a vast range of students. According to Arora, DECA has helped her develop many skills over the years such as meeting new people, thinking on her feet, and having a business oriented mindset.

“Just by being in DECA and participating in the role-play events, you’re going to learn a lot of different skills, like thinking outside the box, thinking on the spot and things like that,” Dua said. “So it’s really good no matter what career you want to go into.”

DECA hopes to continue their legacy of success at various conferences and aims to make all students feel welcome, gaining invaluable knowledge that will help them far into the future.

“I hope that WA DECA continues to thrive as it has for so long in Westford Academy and that we continue to compete at an extraordinary level,” Arora said, “in Massachusetts DECA as a whole, Westford Academy has a name of being one of the best DECA chapters, and I hope and know that that will continue in the future.”

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Penelope Zambrana
Penelope Zambrana, Staff Writer
Hi, my name is Penelope Zambrana and I’m a sophomore at Westford Academy, as well as a staff writer on the Ghostwriter. In my free time I like to read, listen to music, and I enjoy traveling as well. In the summer I also love going to the beach, and in the winter I like to ski. This is my first year in journalism so I’m very excited to discover what it’s like and learn about it.
Simrah Azmi
Simrah Azmi, Staff Writer
Hi! I’m a sophomore and this is my second year on the Ghostwriter. I love spending time with my family, reading everything from novels to webcomics, drawing, editing photos & videos, and satisfying my sweet tooth! I’m really looking forward to this upcoming year and having all sorts of new experiences on the Ghostwriter!

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