By VALLIKA NAYAK ‘21 and SHRAAVANI SONTAM ‘22
Every year, Edison High’s chapter of DECA (the Distributive Education Clubs of America) competes against others around the state and country in a competition involving different branches of business. Consisting of events like marketing, hotel management, and ETC, the competitions are typically held in different locations.
However, the competitions this year differed from previous years. “The DECA competition this year was way different than last year. Last year we had a three day trip to Atlantic City with the chapter and we got to explore the hotel, do DECA activities, have fun experiences with friends, and the roleplays were actually in person. This year everything was on computers so we had to record our roleplays and send them in at a certain time. I hope everything goes back to normal next year so that the new students coming in get the same fun experience we got last year,” said Shirley Avila ‘21.
Competing DECA members must take a test on basic business principles for the regional competition, which is within the three regional areas in NJ (northern, southern, and central). If they qualify in the regional competition, they move on to the state competition, where the competitors are expected to take another test that is more specific to their event. They must also complete two “roleplays,” in which they assume a role and respond to a business situation. If they ranked in the top three of the finalists in their category in the state competition, they would move on to the National Competition.
The DECA state finalists for this year were announced starting at 6:30 PM on Wednesday, March 3. Sahil Desai ‘22 won first place overall, with a top test score and top role play in the Principles of Finance category. Similarly, Aditya Modi ‘22 won first place overall, with a top test score and top roleplay in the Principles of Business Management and Administration category. Rusheen Patel ‘22 won sixth place overall, with a top test score in the Principles of Business Management and Administration category. Vallika Nayak ‘21 was a finalist in the Principles of Marketing category. And lastly, Alvin Wu ‘24 won the top roleplay award in the Principles of Business Management and Administration Category. Of these, Desai, Modi, and Patel will have the chance to compete at the national level.
The experience was new for all competitors. For some, like Rohan Saha ‘21, the experience was positive, but came with a learning curve.
“The environment of the competition had changed completely with adapting to Covid-19 and switching to online, but DECA was able to adapt remarkably. There were online exams with the addition of online role plays, which definitely was different and unfamiliar. However, with the current situation, it was a great alternative! Though I would love to go in person and experience the role play firsthand and immerse myself, the online aspect of this event allowed me to compete and have fun,” said Saha.
For others, the changes came as a surprise, but they were taken in stride.
“The DECA State Conference is usually in Atlantic City, but due to COVID-19, everything is virtual this year,” said Niyati Somarouthu ‘22. “Competitors would have to present in front of judges, but we had to make videos and upload them on YouTube this time. All of the fun events/games that would have taken place in Atlantic City are now online, but I’m still looking forward to the Conference. I’m sure it will be a good experience.”
Competing online has been an adjustment for most competitors, but that is not the only change due to COVID-19. “This year, I truly have missed the excitement and exhilaration of an in-person DECA State Competition. During last year’s competition, I was able to meet DECA members across the state, dine-out with friends, and participate in karaoke, scavenger hunts, Just Dance, and other fun events,” said Co-President of Marketing of the EHS DECA chapter, Nataliyah Gordon ‘21. “Even though this year’s state competition was very different, I was pleased to see how New Jersey DECA has been able to come up with creative and innovative ways to engage competitors virtually. Whether it be in-person or virtual, the state competition provides the opportunity for members to gain the skills and practice necessary to succeed in the field of business. The New Jersey DECA State Competition has been one of the best experiences that I have had during high school. It is my hope that future members will also be able to experience the excitement of the in-person competition and take away the wonderful lessons that can be learned through participation.”
Though competing is different in the pandemic-imposed virtual environment, DECA is still going strong with weekly online meetings and virtual activities.
“My experience [with DECA] from the start was actually really great. I met friends pretty fast and I got to learn so much about business,” said Avila. “At the beginning, however, it was a little nerve wracking thinking about competing against others and doing role-plays in front of judges, but it was totally worth it. I had a great time.”
Likewise, Somarouthu felt appreciative of all the benefits DECA led her to. “I never thought that I would become this involved in DECA when I first joined the club. I first joined as a clueless freshman, but I got the opportunity to compete and represent EHS as a junior. DECA has allowed me to explore business and marketing, and as a junior looking into possible majors, my time in DECA was valuable. It has led me to discover possible career paths. DECA also helped me develop skills that would be useful regardless of major and career, such as leadership and communication,” Somarouthu said.
Overall, the school’s chapter of DECA has adapted to a novel virtual life. They held meetings, competed, won, and celebrated online. And there will be more to celebrate as the final two competitors enter the ICDC National Competition.