DECA competition shifts to online platform

Students+attend+DECA+zoom+call.+

Corey Guerra

Students attend DECA zoom call.

Xava Abraham, Staff writer

Students in the DECA business competition are actively trying to overcome the difficulties COVID has challenged them with. Due to the pandemic, students are adapted to new protocols and shifted their projects to an online platform to present to the judges, for their most recent competition called Districts that took place on January 9. 

“There are no in-person competitions. Students have recorded their presentations and submitted them in. From there, a judge will watch and grade it,” explained business teacher Corey Guerra.

New methods were put in place to give more students the opportunity to be involved in DECA, while following the safety guidelines. 

“Because of COVID I’ve lost the sit down meetings that we used to have so instead I am making a lot of videos and walking the students through the new steps,” Guerra stated. 

The virtual aspect of the competition has made it increasingly difficult for students to form connections with judges and receive their expertise on the business world. 

“The biggest change to prior years is there is no live interaction with the judges anymore.  The students need to think about how they want to explain their events and projects while talking to a screen,” Guerra responded. “They don’t have someone to gauge how they are doing. This requires the students to have the confidence that what they are saying is getting the correct message across.”

From a student’ perspective, senior Kimya Jalinous believes that DECA members have missed out on the real life business applications. 

“We’re missing a huge part of the experience by not being able to go to competitions and present live. The social aspect of competitions, where participants get a feel of a real-life business environment while getting closer to other club members, is really minimized,” Jalinous explained. 

Undeterred by the pandemic, the competition is still based on the same formation as previous years. All students have the opportunity to excel in DECA and potentially win awards for each business category. 

The competitions still work the same though. We will be taking the top 5 students in each event from our district competition and move to states, and again the top 5 will move to ICDCs,” Guerra said. 

Students have worked vigorously to follow COVID guidelines and to help out the business they have promoted during this difficult time. 

“Considering the business I chose was a local small business, it would be great to attract more customers into the community,” Kouyoumjian stated. “I hope to create more opportunities for the business to grow, by increasing brand awareness and making ordering more accessible and effective due to the effects of the pandemic.” 

Despite the competition being virtual, it does not mean that the students are alone. WHS has frequent zoom meetings where teachers and students address any concerns and questions. 

“As an E-board member, I would love to still promote the sense of community within the club and have people support each other given prior knowledge in events,” Jalinous stated. “Not only does it make the whole competition process harder, given the limits of online communication, but you also have to really find motivation to prepare the best you can for your event without having as much support as before.” 

Although teaching has been tougher this year, students have taken it upon themselves to rise up the challenge.

 “I am very proud of the work the students have put in these competition. They have worked hard in a crazy environment and what they have done is impressive,” Guerra said.