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  • Maya Barmecha

“DECA: Back in Business”

In the realm where education meets entrepreneurship, EHS's DECA team emerges as a champion, embodying the spirit of aspiring business leaders. The team was built in 2020 with only about 10 members, and is now taking 35 students to the State Career Development Conference. DECA is back in business with a mission that has propelled them to the next level of the competition.

Some of you may be wondering what DECA is exactly. For starters, DECA stands for Distributive Education Clubs of America, but the spelled-out acronym does not fully clarify what the organization does. The team’s advisor and coach, Ms. Merlini, describes DECA as a “business competition,” where students in grades 9 through 12 interested in the business arena can share their knowledge, as well as “compete with what they know and what they learn in their various classes.” 

Students, or future business leaders, from all across the world challenge themselves in DECA competitions, where they apply the tools and knowledge they gained from their business curriculums. Schools within our states, such as Ossining, Ardsley, and several in Long Island boast core business curriculums that help students better prepare themselves for these competitions. Edgemont does not have any business classes, let alone a curriculum. Ms. Merlini values the team’s dedication and hard work and added that for the team to “achieve what they have achieved was pretty amazing.” 

Other DECA club members and leaders agree with Ms. Merlini and add that it is rewarding to look back on how far the club has come. One of three vice presidents of the Edgemont DECA Chapter, Mathew Zeitz, values that DECA provides Edgemont “with a pathway for students to foster their love for business to take to college with them.” Zeitz also carries the title of Regional President, which involves organizing the regional competition where 400-500 students from surrounding counties participate.

Edgemont’s DECA team has a variety of different students, including the youngest member of the team, Ryan Waxler. He officially joined the team in eighth grade, but this was slightly unusual considering DECA is a high school competition. Waxler notes, “Since I was the only eighth grader to show up, Ms. Merlini pulled some strings, and she got me in, and that was really cool.” One of the reasons Waxler joined the club and enjoys it so much now is because “DECA is a very professional environment and a cool experience as a whole,” which made him feel very comfortable among his older peers. Comparing DECA to other clubs at Edgemont, Waxler describes it as “much different from Model UN and a less stressful environment,” adding that it fosters a great community. 

Aside from DECA being all about business, what sets it apart from any other club here at EHS? Ms. Merlini highlights that meetings are crucial, which may differ from other clubs. Since DECA members are already at a disadvantage without business classes, the meetings allow everyone to get caught up “with the language and the terminology and then how to do a role play and how to perform well in front of a judge.” Ms. Merlini adds that those in the club are in it because they have “a passion for business.” She shares this passion and studied Business and Marketing at Pace University. 

Both Waxler and Zeitz mention that during club meetings they go over case studies and sample problems, where leaders of the team provide advice and direction to the club. It is clear that collaboration is something this team values during their meetings. Examples of business topics Zeitz highlighted were hotel management, apparel, food, sports, entertainment, small businesses, and business administration.

Now that we have an idea of what DECA is, there is something more recent that we should focus on: the ambition of many DECA members has allowed them to qualify for the DECA State Career Development Conference held in Rochester, New York, from March 6-8. The EHS DECA team placed second overall in the regional competition held in Rockland, punching their ticket to States. Members of the team describe the competitions as a social environment where students can engage in workshops and events together. Four Edgemont students competed last year in Orlando in the event following States, called the International Career Development Conference (ICDC). To be eligible to compete at ICDC, members must place in the top four in their competitive event at the state competition. 

EHS's DECA team has transformed from a small group in 2020 to a thriving force of 35 students heading to the state conference. Their mission goes beyond competition and emphasizes knowledge-sharing among students interested in commercial enterprise. Given the serious focus on skill development, the team’s collaborative and professional environment stands out. As they prepare for the DECA State Conference in March, their recent second-place finish at Regionals sets the stage for what is yet to come. EHS DECA is rocking the business scene and is certainly back in business!

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