DECA teaches MCHS students life, job skills

Being a member of the high school DECA team means more than a gold star on a student's resume.

"It teaches you real live marketing skills and how to handle money," said DECA member sophomore JoJo La.

Tuesday night's fall carnival with games and events was one way the DECA team -- more commonly known as an association of marketing students -- helps raise funds for events while gaining some business sense.

A variety of booths included a pie throwing contest, cakewalk, black jack table and a dart-throwing event. Individual student groups staffed booths and earned 90 percent of the proceeds while the DECA organizers of the event earned the remaining 10 percent of sales from outside booths.

But the DECA team that attracted only a small core of students last year is growing with the help of advisor Eric Unglaub.

"There's lots of stuff that we do and that we plan on doing this year," he said.

One example is selling Moffat High School Bulldog T-shirts and stadium cushions to earn money for conferences and activities.

Members also are planning a tennis court cleanup and talent show later in the year.

Seven of the20 team members plan to travel to Boise, Idaho, for a mid-November leadership conference. Witnessing the professionalism of DECA members from other schools is an eye-opening experience, said DECA Vice President Julie Strahan.

"There are some hard-core DECA members out there," she said. "It's neat to see just high school students dressing up in business suits and ties and carrying around laptops."

DECA students study after school for debates and conferences often memorizing marketing terms or strategies. Students at the high school have the opportunity to develop a business plan, something which senior DECA member Allie Wilkinson plans to do.

"I want to get into cosmetology and open my own salon," she said.

Being in DECA showed sophomore Anna Herrinng that it was OK to ask for a raise from her employer. She did recently request a pay increase and received it.

"Before I was afraid to ask but this made me more confident," she said.

In the future, Wilkinson said she was unsure if she'd like to open a business but the marketing skills learned through DECA are helpful, she said.

DECA students staff the high school store that sells candy, trinkets and school supplies. Unglaub currently takes inventory for the store but he plans to pass that responsibility on to students.

Some DECA students were charged with finding business sponsors for the festival's prize drawings. Prizes included donated items ranging from $150 in legal counseling to food from McDonald's.

"There's a lot of things that I do now that they will eventually do," Unglaub said.

"Basically, they're learning how to go into the community and get sponsors and that's not always easy."

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or ahatten@craigdailypress.com.

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