BY ALYSSA GREENBAUM      

As the annual Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) competition is approaching, the Bay’s DECA students are beginning to prepare for their categories. Junior Gabriel Romanini Debarros said that the competition is categorized into three levels: districts, states and international. Debarros said he has been diligently preparing to compete in the business finance category.

“I am preparing for my category by taking practice tests, practicing role-plays and reading the finance chapters on the Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE) Business textbook,” Debarros said. “Having confidence is very important to a competitor’s success in role-plays, so I am practicing my presentation skills as much as I can.” 

Debarros said that the business finance category requires excelled knowledge about financial ratios and a variety of finance-related topics. He said there are various categories that students have the opportunity of competing in, depending on their specific interests, ranging from innovative presentations to stock market competitions. Debarros said that each category has different components that compile to make your final score.

“The business finance category requires me to take a test, which will be weighed as one-third of my final score, and complete a role-play, which is a case study with only 10 minutes between when I first read the case and when I present it. It is weighed as two-thirds of my score,” Debarros said.

Debarros said the recent adjustments to the competition only make it more nerve-wracking. Traditionally, a statewide competition is hosted in Orlando during a four-day trip but has now become a one-day event in which the awards ceremony will be live streamed to the Bay through an in-school event.

“While this competition won’t be like any other we’ve ever had, we still strive to surprise our members, and we hope that years from now, when our current freshmen are near graduation, the ‘Quarantine States Experience’ evokes many fond memories for them,” Debarros said. 

DECA Chapter President, Senior Romina Valerio said she will compete in the marketing cluster as an individual competitor in the Apparel and Accessories Marketing Series. She is also actively working to ensure members have opportunities to properly prepare for States and planning a States-related event that is exclusively for Cypress Bay DECA competitors. She said she has been readily preparing for her presentation in multiple ways.

“This year, I am taking AICE Business with Miss Reid and because we go over so much vocab, it is a great way for me to prepare for competition,” Valerio said. “In addition to this, I also like to do practice tests and practice role-plays with friends.”

Karina Reid, the DECA adviser at the Bay, said she expects the Bay’s DECA students to excel in the upcoming competition. She said that she believes that many of them will advance to the international level, but it is difficult to predict exactly what categories will advance because success has varied in previous years.

“The DECA students at Cypress Bay have been working hard to prepare for the state competition,” Reid said. “We do wish all our competitors the very best in this unique year of competition.” 

Reid said that she enjoys watching her students become more versed in the business world, and she is excited to see where they take themselves. She said that she believes it is a great class for anyone to deepen their knowledge of business, even without knowing the exact career path they would like to take in the future. 

DECA prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management in high schools and colleges around the globe,” Reid said. “However, even though it is geared toward business students, it is such a beneficial program to any student entering into any field or career path as students learn such valuable skills. They learn analytical skills and presentation skills that are way beyond that of an average high school student.”

Valerio said DECA courses and competitions allow students to gain real-world experience. Despite this year being more online-based, she said she still was able to overcome these obstacles along with the rest of the officers to approach things like member engagement and networking opportunities.

“Being chapter president has helped me develop teamwork and leadership skills for my future career, as well as develop an innovative, problem-solving mindset,” Valerio said. “The only way to truly overcome obstacles is to believe we can, so this mentality has been top-priority this year. It is a mindset I will continue to cultivate throughout my career.”

Valerio said she is looking forward to the competition. As chapter president, Valerio said that it is her responsibility to schedule and run meetings, give speeches, interview officers, delegate tasks and oversee the officers and directors. Valerio said DECA is a major factor of her high school experience and wants to ensure other students can receive the same opportunities even through a virtual environment.

“DECA has provided me with countless opportunities to grow not just as a student, but as a person. The classes, workshops, people and competitions are just a few aspects of the organization that made up my DECA story,” Valerio said. “I was able to discover my passions, helping me to identify what kind of career I want to pursue, as well as develop leadership skills, giving me the confidence to succeed in this path.”