DECA team takes home prizes at district-level

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Photo credit: Thomas Recupero

Emma Newman staff writer

The DECA team attended the Southern California Career Development Conference where members of the team won several awards. Eight students won first place prizes, five won second place prizes and four won third place prizes during the competition from Jan. 10 through 12.

Preparation for the conference began in August and extended until the week of competition. Members spent time practicing for the competition through practice exams and role plays, which are mock business pitches. As a result, DECA senior co-president Yasmeen Ohebsion was proud of the outcome. 

“I think that we did exceptionally well,” Ohebsion said. “We were all really pleased with the results.” 

Most DECA members have some experience with the competition, which makes preparation less challenging according to DECA advisor John Johnson. However, first-year competitors were inexperienced and therefore relied on returning members for help. 

“[Returning members] become mentors for new students, explaining to them what they can expect of the different types of engagements and then how to prepare, how to use their emotions, how to not be swayed by the excitement of something new and be encouraged by the possibility of the unknown,” Johnson said. 

For these new students, the help that they receive from DECA can impact how they handle the conferences in a positive manner.  For some students like Naomi Jeng and Nahal Sarafian, they even were able to get a high placement after this first competition. 

“The more [first year students] do certain things, you’d actually be surprised at how well they function in a high stress situation and how well they respond to the opportunity to showcase their skills,” Johnson said. 

This preparation process is very critical in terms of performance at the competition, Johnson said. However, it is not the only factor that can influence the success of the team. 

“One year may be stronger than the next year depending on how well they’re prepared, how the judge receives what they’re doing, how the judge interprets what they’re doing, how well one of my students [performs] compared to other students from other high schools,” Johnson said. 

Because of the importance of review, the presidents of DECA, including Ohebsion, “ramped up” review sessions this year, which helped the team in the long run. 

Even though the number of students from other teams increased, the Beverly’s team managed to have “lots of kids” do well in every category. However, to Johnson, the effort in the competition was what mattered the most. 

“I’m always pleased with young people doing the best they can,” Johnson said. “There really is nothing negative that I can ever find about somebody saying, ‘Here’s what I’m trying,’ because it’s part of the educational experience.” 

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