Students do business unusual

A South Whidbey High School senior will travel to Nashville, Tenn., in April to compete internationally after taking fifth place at the state DECA competition.

Clinton resident Amy Speight, 18, will make the cross-country trip with teacher and Distributive Education Clubs of America advisor Sharyl Harless April 30-May 5. She earned the trip after her placing in the state DECA competition in Seattle March 7-9.

In 2003, the high school sent two seniors to the international competition, so Speight was proud this week to carry on the tradition.

“We’re pretty excited this year to have another person going,” she said.

In competition, DECA students are tested in career-specific divisions with written and oral exams that cover basic marketing fundamentals and business etiquette. Students, working individually or with a partner, compete in categories such as tourism or entrepreneurship.

The competition is not easy. Typically two presentations and an exam are graded and averaged for every student to determine who makes it to the international competition.

“They were pooped by the time they got done,” Harless said in an interview this week.

At the international competition, the rivalry between different chapters rises a notch. Almost 5,000 high school students from the U.S., Canada, Germany, Guam, Puerto Rico and other nations battle for top placings.

Speight entered the state competition in entrepreneurship participation. She created a business plan for a fictional bed and breakfast with an interactive mystery theater.

To prepare for international competition, Speight has sent her preliminary business plan for the competition to Clinton entrepreneur Tim Wandell and a business professor at Middle Tennessee State University to get feedback from industry professionals.

Speight plans to use her experience in DECA as a head start to a career in oncology nursing. In the fall of 2004, she will attend Eastern Washington University, where she will study nursing.

“What I want to do is take the stuff I’ve learned in DECA and apply it to nursing management,” she said.

South Whidbey High School sent 12 students to the DECA state competition this month. Hospitality competitor Breanne Snyder placed sixth in the state competition. She will be an alternate for the competition in Nashville.

The chapter’s fundraising efforts will send both Speight and Harless to the competition. DECA will hold its annual Dating Game fundraiser in April. The event is a fashion show and raffle and is the group’s primary fundraiser.

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