DECA members decisively proved themselves at districts


Kristin O'Brien

Participants in FHC’s DECA pose for a group picture after the awards ceremony.

With little knowledge of what was to come, junior Anna Freihofer nervously talked amongst other teenagers—who were all technically her “competitors”—before her business event started. Nerves frazzled the air, and the group of teenagers shared the common sentiment of not quite understanding what was about to happen, a fact that calmed Anna and her partner’s nerves. 

“After [talking to others], we were kind of like, ‘Okay, they seem like they don’t know what we’re doing. We’re going to be fine,’” Anna said. “That just kind of boosted up the confidence. It made it a little bit easier.”

For Anna, that confidence was crucial in her Business Management roleplay event at DECA’s district competition. There, Anna applied bits and pieces of business information to solve an open-ended question known as the roleplay section of the competition.

These competitions aim to have students do just that. DECA, founded in 1946, prepares students for real-life applications of marketing, management, economics and more. And to do so, competitors must take a 100-question test along with completing an on-the-spot roleplay in front of judges.

With no experience in either the test or roleplay, Anna claims it was “like you’re going in [blind],” as it is her first year in DECA. With Marketing class knowledge, Anna and her partner, junior Taylor Baumgardner, pushed themselves to succeed. 

“Taylor and I, going in as a partnership, definitely knew what we knew,” Anna said, “so we were like, ‘Okay, well we know that we know it. We just kind of have to lock in knowledge.’ It is nerve-wracking because they give you time to prepare, and then after the time is up, you just kind of go. It’s just kind of go with your gut.”

This “go with your gut” sentiment was echoed across participants as for many members of FHC’s DECA, it was their first year competing. For Anna, much of the test and roleplay came from “common sense,” and she believes “you have got to kind of go with the flow” when approaching the prompts given.

And mirroring Anna, senior Fadi Muallem also found ease in his peers, some of which were friends from the area’s schools.

“It was nerve-wracking, that’s for sure,” Fadi said. “I got to see some other friends from other schools and talk to them about [the competition]. They kind of calmed me down about the whole thing and taught me what I should do in terms of the ten minutes of preparing.”

As many participants were nervous and inexperienced with DECA competitions, doubt arose of whether they would move on to the upcoming state competition. To move on, roughly five groups of five people from each different business category are chosen. A medal can be rewarded too for the highest test scores or best roleplay in each event, making the final ceremony a nail-biting experience to see who has continued on.

For Fadi, receiving a medal came as a shock after overall confusion, especially on the test.

“I was actually very surprised [to move on],” Fadi said. “I was really confused [about] the test because I had only taken Introduction to Business before that. I didn’t really have a clue what I was doing on it, so I was surprised to get that medal in the first place, and I was kind of astonished to get the states medal.”

Junior Gabe Moraru also felt this surprise as he and his partner junior Isaac Gurley were awarded medals at the ceremony as well.

“My partner and I were not feeling very confident,” Gabe said, “but we were unaware of our impressive, impressive test scores, which definitely catapulted us into three medals.”

Gabe and Isaac combined received a medal for the test, the roleplay, and to go on to states. To win one of these medals means having one of the highest scores for that category, an honor that Fadi received too.

Having thought he fumbled on the test, Fadi earned a 70 out of 100 on it; he additionally won one of his medals for that accomplishment.

“It made me really happy because I know it’s somewhat of an honor to go to states,” said Fadi, who wants to minor in business in college. “I don’t know; I feel like I haven’t really been in that position before.”

The state competition that Fadi, Anna, and Gabe have moved on to will be held in March in Detroit. Nine others from FHC will move on too, competing once more in their categories to score highly on the test and roleplay. 

Awaiting this competition, the participants hope to prepare more with Anna citing being detailed as a main part of success. Moreover, they hope to relish the experience, with Gabe even expecting to continue on in the future based on his time at districts.

“It was fun,” Gabe said. “It’s kind of sad knowing that, you know, some of my friends won’t be there next time because they weren’t good enough, but I enjoyed it, and I’m definitely going to do it next year.”