DECA attends area conference

Sara Bluhm, Photography Editor

Smiling nervously as your partner explains the advertising plan you created only ten minutes ago in a thirty minute preparation period, you think to yourself, “What was the indicator? What did the judge ask? How does buzz marketing even play into the older generation? They don’t even know how to use smartphones!” You glance down at your bullet-point notes as your partner says, “And with that I will hand it off to my partner to explain the nature of mass marketing on a technological scale and how it will lend into our Go-Loco-Coco Campaign.”

So goes the train of thought of the average student competing in a case study at this year’s DECA Area Conference. Liberty DECA students boarded buses Friday, January 9, for the Western Region Area Conference held in Bellevue in hopes of returning with finalist and state qualifying medals. Extending from nine in the morning to three-thirty in the afternoon, the Area Conference consisted of multiple competitive events, ranging from paper presentations, to singular role plays, to case studies. Within these events, participants assume the roles of business people and conduct presentations of assigned scenarios or the framework of papers to experienced judges. This conference is the first step on the road to DECA nationals to be held in Orlando, Florida, late this spring.

This year was full of firsts for not only Liberty DECA, but Western Washington DECA as a whole. The attendance and participation rate was at an all-time high with the most participants in Western Washington Area history.

“There were more students competing in every category this year, meaning more competition. Everyone really had to step up their game to qualify,” junior Alex Stewart said.

In total, Liberty ended the conference with 40 State qualifiers in several different events.

“This year only six girls are advancing on to State out of 40, so we need to make sure the guys know that we are right in the game with them,” junior Sophia Davis said after qualifying in the Marketing Communications Role Play event. “Time to reach for the beach!”

Another first for DECA is the allowance of freshman participants. This is the first year in which adviser Chris Gapinski has held a class that freshmen were allowed to sign up for: Sports and Entertainment Marketing. This opens the door not only to freshman competitors, but freshman State qualifiers.

Freshman Zoe Nepsa is the first freshman to qualify for State in LHS DECA history. She advanced to State competition in the Professional Selling Financial Consulting event. Gapinski has high hopes for this year’s DECA State qualifiers and has adopted “Reach for the beach” as the new DECA motto. State competition is scheduled to take place March 5-7 at the Meydenbauer Center of Bellevue.