The big time

Six Moffat County students advancing to DECA state competition

This year marks one of the best for Moffat County High School's Distributive Education Clubs of America.

Following a successful showing at the district tournament Monday in Grand Junction, six Moffat County teenagers are advancing to the state competition from Feb. 24 to 27 in Colorado Springs.

"We're definitely the underdog going in," adviser and high school teacher Krista Schenck said. "But we were awesome."

Moffat County has one of the smallest groups in the area, with seven members, Schenck said. Rifle's DECA includes about 150 students.

DECA is a competition-based group that teaches students marketing skills.

Schenck said Moffat County offers two years of marketing classes, and other high schools have four years of marketing education.

The district meet included six schools and about 250 students. About 70 or 80 students advance to state.

Four students attended the district tournament: senior Andy Cortez, juniors Heather Sperry and John Ungefug and sophomore Cassandra Gore. The foursome took first place in the Quiz Bowl competition, which Schenck described as being similar to "Jeopardy."

Schenck said Quiz Bowl was a weak spot for the team last year.

"This year, we really didn't let them answer any questions," she said.

The students also competed in individual events, which include 100-question multiple-choice tests and role-play activities.

Two students advanced to state individually, as well. Cortez won second in food marketing, and Gore won second in hotel and lodging. Ungefug and Sperry took fourth and fifth in restaurant and food services, respectively.

Because the Quiz Bowl team of four qualified for state and two students did individually as well, Moffat County can send six students to state. So sophomores Becky Meek and Mackenzie Jowell will join the state-bound team.

Schenck said DECA members meet at least once a month to prepare for competitions. Some students also study at home.

Schenck said the state meet demands professional appearance and demeanor from students. Any student caught wearing jeans or chewing gum can be eliminated from the competition. The students must wear "full business power suits," Schenck said.

To raise money for fees and travel expenses, DECA members run the school store, which sells drinks and snacks before and after school and during lunch, in conjunction with Future Business Leaders of America. They also sell Bulldog shirts during homecoming at the high school.

DECA students also volunteered their time clearing tables at the Craig Chamber of Commerce's Crab Fest, and are planning a lip sync contest, Valentine's Day dance and senior basketball game.

DECA students provide Santa Claus at Centennial Mall as a fundraiser to help a local family with food and toys this holiday season.

And after all their school activities and community service is done, students said DECA is a club they think from which they benefit, too.

Sperry said she hopes to major in marketing at Colorado State University or Metropolitan State College of Denver after graduation.

"It teaches you a lot of skills and gets you prepared for after high school because you know what jobs are going to be like," Sperry said.

Ungefug agreed, saying DECA is the first organization he's joined in high school.

"I figured it would be a good way to learn some skills I'm going to need in life," he said. "I'm learning things that will actually help me later."

Michelle Perry can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 213, or mperry@craigdailypress.com.

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