DECA members place at first competition

Palo Alto High School’s newly established business competition club, Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA), placed seven members in the top eight at its first ever tournament, Silicon Valley Career Development Conference (SVCDC) in San Jose, Calif., in early January.

“We did really well for our first conference,” sophomore Josh Code, vice president of Paly DECA and Vice President of Outreach for Silicon Valley, said. “Everyone had a great time, and overall it was a good learning experience.”

DECA is an international organization established almost 70 years ago with the goal of preparing students for future careers in business, marketing and finance. Paly is now one of the 3,500 high school chapters across the globe.

“[Involvement in DECA] prepares you for the real world, which I think is an invaluable experience that not enough extracurriculars and clubs bring to the Paly environment,” junior Karina Chan, co-president, said. “DECA rolls it all into one and allows a student to experience something that they can challenge themselves in, feel that it is useful and still have fun.”

Paly DECA also claimed two first places in the roleplay aspect of the conference, where competitors had 10 minutes to create a marketing plan or solve a intracompany issue. Junior Greg Eum and sophomore Samarth Venkatasubramaniam each won Principles of Hospitality and Tourism and Principles of Finance, respectively. Together with the second part of the competition, the written test, Venkatasubramaniam received second overall in his event.

“It’s been a super rewarding experience,” Venkatasubramaniam said. “Regardless of what field you go to in life, you have to have a functional knowledge of business: how money works and how to move it around smartly.”

Juniors Chan, Natalie Maemura and Stephanie Cong as well as sophomores Josh Code and Jerry Hong all placed in the top eight for their events.

“I’m really proud of everyone who went to the tournament because I feel like everyone learned something from their event and got a lot out of that experience,” Chan said.

Given that the club was founded at the beginning of this school year by co-presidents Chan and Cong, their first year as a club has been about growth and learning for the whole team.

“Stephanie and I decided we should start our own club because it looked like so much fun and we really value the things that DECA brings to a school community,” Chan said.

Twenty-five club-members attended SVCDC, and Chan predicts that the club will continue to grow, with an estimated fifty members to compete at the State Career Development Conference (SCDC), which will take place from Feb. 26 to Mar. 1.

“We are foreseeing…three or four people to get into the top four [in the SCDC] and qualify for [the International Career Development Conference (ICDC)],” Chan said. “I think that a good amount of people will place in top 8 in their events.”

ICDC will be held in Orlando, Florida from April 18-21. This highly competitive event hosts more than 16,000 high school and college students who qualified in one of the 54 events offered.