State Success Stopped Short

DECA wins at State finds international advancement halted by virus


photo submitted by Julianne Ash

On the eve of the DECA competition, students watch the Opening Ceremony with anticipation.

Gleaming name tags hang on lanyards, and crisp suits and blazers are stylishly worn by students. They hold business cards, posters, and a fierce determination to win.

Before Spring Break, DECA students who won at the district level went to Fort Worth to attend the State Career Development Conference and competed with the with the hope to win and represent their school. At the conference, students from all over Texas come not only to compete, but to network, expand and enjoy their time at the conference. 

“I think that this year’s state competition was the best state conference since I have been in, as a DECA adviser of the past 13 years,” adviser and business teacher Julieanne Ash said. “The kids did a phenomenal job representing Klein Oak as well as all of the Klein schools.”

For many, DECA means more than just competition. For new chapters, DECA change brings positive change to the lives of students and their communities. 

“It’s a great way for high schoolers to build a community both within their school and outside of it. Competition tends to bring people together and that was very evident with my team,” sophomore Kenneth Lee, a student at Cypress Falls High School said. “We were strangers to each other in the chapter starring off, but after the Districts and States competition, I feel that we’ve all grown a lot closer together. As for outside school life, students going out and gaining sponsorships, participating in community outreach and doing real-world activities in aid of their projects are all just small pieces of connections DECA participants can form outside school walls.” 

For many, this was a year of accomplishment,  with a total of 41 student finalists. From those finalists, 21 of them will were to advance to the next high level in DECA: the International Career Development Conference, or better known as ICDC. Because of the closure of schools across the nation, the ICDC event was cancelled for the 2020 school year.

“This was my third time going to state but I can honestly say it was by far the most special, “ state winner and junior Caitlyn Nguyen said. “After our presentation to our judge, I didn’t feel confident in our performance at all, so during the awards ceremony I was really not expecting much. But then, the announcer called our names, and we advanced to ICDC, and it  was the most surreal experience. I am beyond proud of my team!” 

Soon after the conference, plans for ICDC were being made and a new chapter was to open for DECA students. 

“DECA is not only a competition or a club, it is a community. It is a means of gaining new knowledge, and it is an open door for future success,” Lee said.