Students Dominate at DECA State

By Srilekha Cherukuvada, Dreamcatcher Editor in Chief

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  • Audience members turn on the flashlights on their phone and sway along with the violinist performing on stage at Opening Ceremony.

    Photo By Dia Jain

  • Students pose for a picture with their trophies after the closing ceremony. Photo courtesy of Westwood DECA.

  • Students gather in the conference center as they wait for the Opening Ceremony to begin.

    Photo By Dia Jain

  • Guest Speaker Andy Buckley widely known for his role as David Wallace from ‘The Office’ entertains the students with stories from his time on set.

    Photo By Keya Sampat

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Students travelled to Fort Worth, Texas for the Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) State Career Development Conference (SCDC) on Thursday, Feb. 20. Organization members competed in a variety of events, including written projects, role plays and virtual business events.

“It felt great, very proud for the kids,” sponsor Mr. Jeffery Siler said. “It was a phenomenal conference. Westwood did, as always, an unbelievable job. It was a great conference and everyone learned a lot.”

While traveling to Fort Worth, students stopped at Buc-ee’s to enjoy lunch and take a break from the long drive. Afterwards, at 8:00 p.m. members headed to the convention center to attend the opening ceremony where many chapters were awarded for several different accomplishments, including membership levels and participation in organization campaigns.

“The opening ceremony  got everyone hyped and excited for the three days and the competition and uplifted the spirits,” Srimayee Gadde ‘21 said. “The violinist was very talented and played songs that everyone knew and made the audience engaged and sing along. The opening ceremony was overall a great way to start off the three days.”

As the competition day arrived, the tension was building in many students. On Friday, students competed in their respective events based on assigned times and rooms. After the competition, entertainment by Andy Buckley, who played David Wallace in the hit television show The Office, was provided.

“I think competing was a very valuable experience because I got to learn so much about presenting and business plans,” Serena Manwani ‘22 said. “I also learned about overcoming adversity since I had almost lost my voice the morning of the presentation, but I was determined to do everything I could to make sure I could still compete, and I ended up making it through the entire presentation. In my mind, that itself is winning.”

Finally, as Saturday, the day of the closing ceremony arrived, a blanket of anxiety enveloped members. Students were going to find out whether or not they finalized or made it to the International Career Development Conference (ICDC).

“It was really exciting because last year my partner [Keya Sampat ‘21] and I made it to state, but we didn’t qualify and this year when we got called on stage, we were so excited and standing with all the other peers, and kids from other schools, and kids from Westwood as well was a lot of fun and seeing all of our friends cheer us on,” Aashi Vishnoi ‘21 said. “When we got called as ICDC qualifiers, we couldn’t stop screaming and I was crying because we were so happy and proud of what we had done.”

Out of the 249 state attendees, 61 qualifiers will attend ICDC, which will take place from Tuesday, April 29 to Saturday, May 2 in Nashville, Tennessee. A full list of qualifiers and their events can be found here.

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