Eight Mound Westonka High School students have qualified for the DECA International Career and Development Conference (ICDC) after their teams placed in the top two in the region in last month’s DECA Knowledge Matters Virtual Business Challenge.
In the challenge round that ran Oct. 17-27, high school DECA members in the United States and Canada participated in eight Virtual Business Tracks: VBC Entrepreneurship, VBC Fashion, VBC Restaurant, VBC Hotel, VBC Sports, VBC Personal Finance, VBC Retailing and VBC Accounting. Each track encourages DECA members to test their skills within its particular virtual business environment – individually or as a team of up to three members.
Juniors Ruby Finck and Lauren Velander and sophomore Allison Kreiser competed as a team in the VBC Fashion competition, where they conducted trend research, designed garments, promoted via social media, selected retail locations, and more.
“I've always loved fashion ever since I learned how to sew, and I am planning on making a career out of it,” said Velander. “I joined DECA because I wanted to explore the business side of fashion, so when I heard about the Fashion Virtual Business Challenge I was immediately interested.”
Teams were ranked based on their fashion business' highest cumulative profit after running the simulation for two virtual fashion seasons. Finck, Kreiser and Velander placed first in the state, first in the Central Region and ninth in the nation to advance to Internationals.
For the second year in a row, seniors Isaac Paul and Rocco Zahasky qualified for Internationals in the VBC Hotel Challenge. Zahasky said they were initially drawn to the hotel challenge by a chance at prize money.
“Because the hotel VBC is sponsored by the J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation, it includes a cash prize at Internationals if you get Top 4, which really caught our eye,” said Zahasky. “Because we have experience with the hotel event, we took the two weeks to really perfect our simulation.”
Their simulated hotel was ranked based on a balanced scorecard that included profitability, customer satisfaction, and employee satisfaction. Paul and Zahasky ended up placing first in the state, second in the Central Region and 16th in the nation in 2023.
Seniors Jack Hall, Bryce Helms, and Jack Moch tested their entrepreneurial skills in the VBC Entrepreneurship Challenge. The team placed first in the state, second in the Central Region and 10th in the nation to advance to Internationals.
Helms said his favorite part of the competition was the team’s last-minute qualification for ICDC. “It was late on the final night, and the whole group got together to try and get into the top 2,” said Helms. “We had an amazing simulation going, and we knew there was a chance. When we got to the end of the simulation and realized that we finally got into second, we all jumped up and were extremely happy. All our hard work had paid off.”
Other members of the Westonka DECA Chapter will have the chance to qualify for ICDC later this school year by advancing through the regional and state competitions. The 2024 ICDC will be held in Anaheim, California April 27-30.
DECA prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management. DECA enhances the preparation for college and careers by providing co-curricular programs that integrate into classroom instruction, apply learning, connect to business and promote competition. The Westonka DECA program is led by advisors Sue Simonson, Alex Wagner, Nelson Krause and Maggie Carlson.