DECA opens a door to a new world for high school students


Courtesy of Maanika Gupta

Two teams from WCHS’s DECA club pose for a self timed photo at this year’s Maryland statewide event held on Feb. 28th. Farah Baloghlanova (left), Claire Kim (left center), Olivia Meshanko (right center), and Maanika Gupta (right) all made the trip to Baltimore for the event.

By Quinn Cook, Staff Writer

DECA, or Distributive Education Clubs of America, is an organization that allows students to gain skills in many different clusters of entrepreneurship, economics and business. High school students in the organization can join local chapters and through these chapters participate in competitive events. The most recent DECA event, the Maryland statewide competition, was held in Baltimore on Feb. 28, 2020. Multiple student teams from WCHS’s DECA club made the trip to the event for a chance to represent their chapter and compete against the state. 

“DECA is essentially the model UN of business,” junior Ben Ballman and member of the WCHS chapter of DECA said. “There’s a variety of events you can do. Some involve being thrown into business situations and forced to make quick, informed decisions. Others involve making presentations around a specific topic. Deca can really vary depending on what you want from it.” 

This WCHS club prepares students like Ballman for life in the business sphere while also training them for the DECA competitive events that are held three times a year. DECA students have opportunities to compete in the regional, state and even international events. 

“The WCHS DECA meetings typically go over competition expectations,” junior Olivia Meshanko said. “They give us tips on how to perform well and go over upcoming events we have. WCHS’s DECA competed in all competitions, even international.”

Through its events, DECA gives students invaluable real-time experience in fields they want to pursue or explore. Within each larger competitive event, DECA includes competitions based on six specific clusters: business management and administration, entrepreneurship, finance, hospitality and tourism, marketing and personal financial literacy. Each of these subcategories host countless specific events in which students can compete. 

Ben Ballman and Andrew Chan were one of the teams from WCHS to compete at the most recent event. They have been a team for multiple years and friends for much longer. 

“It’s important to review the basics of your event and more importantly to review your topic,” Ballman said. “Andrew and I have done DECA for a while now, so we already know the structure really well. Because of this we focused on reviewing ethics and law materials. This proved very useful in our event.”

The pair competed in a Business Law and Ethics event together in February. Their specific event was featured under the category of Business Administration and Management. 

“This was a role play event where we were given a situation related to the topic, a limited amount of time to prepare, fifteen minutes, and had to give a presentation based on the topic,” Ballman said. “The score from our presentation is compiled with an economics and marketing test. We ended up getting second place.”

Not only did Chan and Ballman do extremely well in the February statewide event, but other teams such as Olivia Menshanko and Maanika Gupta showed up strong for the WCHS chapter as well. The tandem proved themselves against opponents and placed an impressive second in a marketing based event.

“I work well with others which is why I chose a partner event,” Meshanko said. “I like the collaboration especially in marketing events. My partner Maanika and I have been doing DECA together for 2 years and there’s no one else I’d rather work with. We have great chemistry together.” 

Like other extracurriculars such as Model UN for politics and international relations, or best buddies for special education and community building, DECA can serve as a key formative experience for these students. DECA provides an outlet for WCHS’s hopeful business leaders of the future to not only engage in their interests, but also compete against other like minded students within them.  

“DECA introduces you to a lot of the basics of business, economics and other related topics, all in a fun environment,” Ballman said. “Going into DECA I wasn’t even very interested in any of these, but DECA helped me learn and enjoy these in a meaningful way.” 

DECA is more than just business though, as it also helps students come out of their shell and grow as both a student and a leader. Due to the way it’s set up, DECA has the ability to merge out of school competition and in school relationships in a very applicable way. 

“I plan on doing DECA through my senior year,” Meshanko said. “It really is an amazing experience. The friends you make through DECA are just really special because it’s nice to talk to and work with people with similar interests and drives as you. DECA boosts my confidence for sure and prepares me for what business is like in the real world.”

The club is brimming with excitement as they look forward to the next events to come, not only competition wise, but the team aspect too. No love is lost in the club for the DECA event season grind or the partnerships that define it. This is especially true within the Ballman and Chan duo who are more ready than ever to keep their chemistry at the top of the game and winning streak alive.

“I do it with Andrew Chan because he is a cutie and smartie which makes him a great partner and friend,” Ballman said. “Andy and I are copping that three peat!”