DECA Club wins big at state competition


Fourteen students from Rockville Centre have qualified for the DECA International Career Development Conference at Disney World in Orlando, Florida, next month, following their recent performance at the state competition.

The Distributive Education Clubs of America, or DECA, is an internationally recognized organization with more than 200,000 members across the globe that is dedicated to preparing emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality, and management.

Peter English, a business department facilitator, and instructor at South Side High School played a pivotal role in the school’s DECA program when he started teaching there seven years ago. He had been involved in the organization for several years at his former school in New Jersey and revitalized the DECA Club charter at the high school.

“I think the kids get excited about the content in class when they can actually use it and compete with it and really apply it,” English said. “So that was the vision, to grow it where it is now, and it took a while, especially when the pandemic gave us a bit of a pause, but kids are ready to get back out there and start doing things.”

English said that as the pandemic receded, many of the students were eager to network and interact with one another. DECA is now the school’s largest club, having nearly doubled in size from last year, with more than 100 members who compete in a series of business-related challenges, testing their understanding of business concepts and their creativity.

“I think we’re at the tip of the iceberg,” English said, adding that he anticipated that the club would continue to grow in the years ahead. “It’s about opening doors and giving students opportunities to do things with the content that they normally wouldn’t get a chance to do, and test out their knowledge. So I think it’s exciting in that regard.”

South Side Principal Patrick Walsh said that the DECA Club enables students to apply their knowledge to real-world business scenarios and provides them with practical life experiences.

“It gives them an opportunity to see those things come to life in their business classes,” Walsh said. “It’s so great to see our students recognized at such a high level. They do such great work.”

More than 80 students in the International Baccalaureate Business Management program were selected to attend the New York DECA career conference in Rochester March 7-10, based on their performance in regional competition at Freeport High School last December. Over the course of the three-day competition, nearly 2,400 students from 90 schools across the state took part in a series of business-related role-playing scenarios and case study events.

The competition began with a 100-question multiple-choice career cluster exam, followed by scenarios in which students are given 10 minutes to respond and 10 minutes to present their answers to a judge who scores them.

“It’s like a pitch,” English said. “Let me give you a scenario. You’re the general manager of a minor league baseball team that uses the stadium for 81 days out of the year. But what do we do to make revenue those other times? So you have to come up with an idea.”

The students are judged on creativity, their ability to apply business terms and content knowledge to case studies, and their public speaking skills.

Along with those who qualified for the international competition, 37 South Side students won medals in the respective categories. Lauren O’Brien and Sam Stein took first place overall for their career development project, and Gavin Goodlad, Hailey Ferraro-Reich, and Catherine Medeiros finished second overall for their sales project. Keira Birk, Emma Murphy, and Catie Dolan finished third overall for business solutions.

Individually, Lucy Reardon finished third in marketing communications, Sean Clairine was fourth in the business growth plan, Katherine Graci finished fourth in business finance, Ashley Sewell was fifth in business services marketing, Michael Muscarella finished fifth in hotel and lodging management, and Nick Papadopulos finished sixth in quick-serve restaurant marketing.

Medal winners also included Graham Batkin, Michael Baum, Ella Burbige, Ayush Chanda, Cameron Coletti, Emma Conlon, Jimmy Curran, Lauren Ferazani, Robert Galindo, Michael Grossman, Kate Gupta, Emily Koluch, Matthew Mata, Corinne McGetrick, Molly McKeough, Kendall Pinsky, Noelle Prince, Gigi Reilly, Kelsie Reinholdt, Molly Schieck, Brooke Seidman and Ronan Tarpey.

To learn more about Side Side’s DECA program, visit its website,