Students find success at 60th Annual Massachusetts DECA Conference


Corey Guerra

Juniors Kara Walp, Nikki Liu, and Varvara Plotnichenko competed in the 60th Annual Massachusetts DECA Conference on March 8-10.

Michael Curley, Staff Writer

Presentations, role plays, and collaboration among students were all on show during the 60th annual Massachusetts Career Development Conference, sponsored by Distributive Education Clubs of America, or DECA. On March 8-10, 29 WHS students went to Boston to compete in this competition, hoping to advance to the international competition in Orlando, Florida.

Eight WHS students who attended the conference placed in the top 10 in their events. Notably, sophomore Neil Malur placed second in the Business Finance category and junior John Lian placed sixth in the Personal Financial Literacy category. Their performances qualified them for internationals in late April, where they will compete against others who qualified based on their performance at the district and state level.

“It feels really good because I know that we all put a lot of hard work into this beforehand,” Malur stated. “It just feels really nice to see all of it pay off and [I will] hopefully have a nice time and do well at internationals.”

Another member who echoed those feelings was junior Kara Walp. Even though it was her first time doing DECA, she placed ninth for Principles of Hospitality and Tourism.

“My event was a role play. You don’t know what [your problem is] going to be until you get there, and you have 10 minutes to prepare a pitch to the judge. There are these things called performance indicators, which are topics that you have to hit in your presentation to the judges,” Walp said. “There’s about 20 pages of them, so I went through all 20 pages. It felt pretty good having my work pay off.”

Another success at this year’s DECA conference was junior David Huang’s election to the position of state officer.

“It’s really hard for a school this size to get a state officer. So I’m really honored this year to be one of the state officers,” Huang said. “[I hope to] increase interaction between different schools.”

Huang elaborated upon his potential goals in his new position as a state officer.

“Something I thought about was not only to host mock role plays and presentations within one school, but across multiple schools,” Huang stated. “[This is] not only a great way to prepare for district competitions and state conference, but a great way for DECA members to socialize between different schools.”

While the DECA Conference is very competitive, the Weston DECA team houses a comfortable environment for success. This is Malur’s second year with the Weston DECA program and he commented on this aspect of the team.

“[My experience] definitely made it seem a little bit less scary. I felt more confident going into it and the more you do DECA, the more you feel confident,” Malur said. “The environment feels a lot more homey and nice and familiar.”

Weston’s first DECA team was created in 2011 by business teacher Corey Guerra.

“I started DECA here because I was a part of it at my previous school and I really enjoyed what it offered to the students beyond just the competition,” Guerra stated. “I wanted to replicate that type of opportunity here at Weston.”

Even though only one Weston student placed high enough to go on to the international competition, Guerra is happy with the success that his team found this year.

“I think this year we’ve had our highest membership numbers, we had our highest number of students who’ve gone to districts, we had our highest number of students who went to states,” Guerra said. “I can look at [this year] and say that we were just as successful if not more than last year because of those other things.”