Students Compete at Nationals

ST. MARYS — A group of local students recently competed at the national level of their business program.

Five St. Marys Memorial High School students — seniors Cierra Anderson, Mitch Fowler, Ryan Wilker, Taylor Grant and junior Adam Neal — went to Salt Lake City, Utah, to participate in the DECA International Career Development Conference.

The DECA — or Distributive Education Clubs of America — students had qualified after competing at the Ohio DECA Career Development Conference in mid-March.

"Cierra Anderson, Mitch Fowler and Ryan Wilker competed in the School Based Enterprise Project," DECA adviser Heidi Lisi said.

"For their School Based Enterprise Project, they got gold level, which is the highest you could get. Only two schools in Ohio got that recognition."

For receiving gold level certification, Lisi noted the trio received a plaque. She also noted the work the students had to do for their project.

"They had to prepare a written project based on our school store — The DECA Depot," Lisi said. "They had to analyze the product mix, analyze the store location, analyze the customer service plans and the promotions. Basically, they had to analyze and critique every aspect of the school store."

Because the School Based Enterprise Project involves such extensive work, that project is judged only at nationals.

"That gets submitted directly to the national level because it's such an in-depth project," Lisi said. “At nationals, they presented to the judges."

Neal participated in principles of hospitality and tourism.

"He had to take a test and do a case study/role play where he presented with the judges based on a business situational problem," Lisi said. "He didn't know the problem ahead of time — he had about 10 minutes to study and respond to the judges."

Neal, she noted, did not place in the finals and she hadn't yet found out his actual placement in the competition.

"I haven't received the results back, so I don't know his exact place," she said.

Grant also competed at nationals in professional selling.

"He also had to take a test," Lisi said. "Ahead of time, he was given a situation — he had to present a sales demonstration. He had to act as if he was a salesman for a language learning software company, and he had to try to sell the software to a pharmaceutical firm who was expanding into foreign markets."

Grant was armed with visual aids for his presentation, she added.

"He had to go in with visual aids and a 15 minute sales presentation that he gave to the judges," Lisi said.

She noted Grant as well did not make it to the finals, and she didn't know his exact place either.

"Whether they received an award or not, they learned a lot and received a lot of experience that will help them in their futures," Lisi said.

She noted she was proud of the group.

"I was very proud of all of them for making it to the national level because that's an extremely difficult level to get to," Lisi said of her students. "A lot of times, there are kids who, once they get to nationals, they stop working because they feel they've already made it. These kids didn't. They worked very hard to prepare and took practice tests and practiced their presentations. I'm very proud of them."

Approximately 14,000 students from across the United States, as well as from Canada, Puerto Rico and Guam participated in the DECA International Career Development Conference earlier this month.

Lisi also thanked the local business sponsors — St. Marys Chrysler, TLC and The Foundry — for their support in helping send the students to Salt Lake City.