Thursday March 08, 2018
Thirty-five students from the South Burlington High School (SBHS) DECA club competed at the Vermont DECA Career Development Conference. Exactly that same number of students came home with a gold, silver or bronze medal. The annual state competition, which was held in February at the University of Vermont Davis Center, features students from 10 high schools and tech centers in Vermont, who compete in individual and team events. Vermont DECA is a state affiliate of the national career and student technical organization. With a nearly 70-year history, DECA is an international association of high school and college students and teachers of marketing, management and entrepreneurship in business, finance, hospitality, and marketing sales and service.
At the conference, SBHS sophomore Alanna Nash took first place in the Public Speaking event, earning a perfect score and a gold medal. Further enhancing SBHS accomplishments, juniors Ann Wong and Sierra Duffy were named officers. Wong is next year’s Vermont DECA president and Duffy was named vice president of marketing.
“This was an exceptionally fun year,” said Vermont DECA Vice President of Marketing Lana Al-Namee, a senior at SBHS, “because it’s the 60th anniversary of Vermont DECA and we had a very productive year.”
Joining Al-Namee as this year’s state officers were Kiran Waqar as president and Trang Do as vice president of social media. As a leadership team, the three students planned the Fall Leadership Conference, traveled to the Ultimate DECA Power Trip in Philadelphia, presented to the Vermont State Legislators in Montpelier, and worked closely with Joyce Kemp, the executive director of VT DECA, to implement the state competition.
The SBHS DECA students work diligently under the guidance of Lynn Amey, who is the club’s chapter advisor, and Chloe Zinn as chapter president. Joining Zinn as chapter officers are Lauren Trombley, Avi Cohen, Ann Wong, Sierra Duffy, Dave Yi, and Andrew Cunningham. According to Amey, SB DECA holds both morning meetings and evening meetings, twice a month, to make participation accessible to more students.
Along with preparing for competitions, DECA students take part in community service opportunities, Global Entrepreneurship Week, and school and community advocacy events. “We love to earn ribbons and build our chapter cohesiveness at the same time,” says Amey, adding, “It gives us a purpose and students build their business and leadership skills along the way.”
Amey, who teaches business education at SBHS, says she started the school’s DECA chapter in 2012 in order to build interest in business and finance. “SB DECA took off like a rocket and the students are now experiencing business in and out of the classroom.”
Amey reports that in business classes, students meet with local business owners and entrepreneurs to pitch new product ideas in a “Shark Tank” format, creating their own business plans in the Build Your Own Business incubator. In finance classes, students experience saving and investing opportunities as well as experiencing interactives such “Budget Challenge” and “PayBack,” a challenge concerning college loans.
In 2016, Amey was invited to be one of 12 educators in the country to experience the first NextGen Personal Finance cohort in California. In addition, she represented Vermont at the National JumpStart Conference in Washington, D.C. Bringing valuable resources into her classroom, Amey’s goal is to continue to enrich the DECA students’ experiences.
Grateful for support from the community, Amey says, “SB DECA appreciates all of the local business support and guidance received along the way.” She adds, “We are currently fundraising for our trip to the International Career Development Competition in Atlanta this year.” Amey notes that they have recently begun working with the South Burlington Business Association (SBBA), and have received financial support from a number of local businesses. South Burlington students attending this event will primarily take part in two full days of leadership training with students from around the world. There will be approximately 18,000 business students at the event along with business leaders and mentors for an amazing global networking opportunity.