Students set for national competition

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 8, 2002

Hard work really does pay off.

Five students of Austin High School's chapter of the Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) will experience the fruits of their labor firsthand when they travel to Salt Lake City for the national DECA competition, April 20-24.

Competing are senior Emily Bue and senior Michael Hansen with a public relations campaign, junior Alli Tolbert and senior Megan Schmidt with a civic consciousness project and senior Adrienne Peter in the food marketing management level role-playing event.

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Bue and Hansen developed a campaign to raise awareness of depression, Tolbert and Schmidt worked with the Red Cross to raise money for the school chest program which sends school supplies to other countries, and Peters says her project is basically "an impromptu" in which she is given a situation and she has to describe for the judges what she would do in that situation if she was part of the management of a food service organization.

The national competition, which draws DECA clubs from every state as well as other countries such as Canada, Mexico and Guatemala is the final contention for the students after they qualified at the state tournament at the beginning of March.

They've had the goal of going to the national competition since they began their projects earlier this year and are now both excited and nervous about the upcoming event.

Tolbert says it's "nerve-wrecking and will be a lot more competitive than state was" and Schmidt adds there will be "a lot more people than there were at the state competition."

"It's going to be very stressful," Hansen says. "You have to be prepared for anything that may happen and you have to be ready to go right when the judges want you."

He and Bue have to use a computer in their 10-minute presentation and Bue says they accidentally let it go to sleep at the state competition, but "this time we're going to make sure that's not going to happen."

Something as harmless as that, Hansen says, could ruin your chances of doing well.

"You also need a lot of luck because there are about 150 teams at nationals and everyone gets different judges, so there can be a lot of differences in the judging," Hansen adds.

However, Hansen says the national competition should be fun. He qualified for it last year and says "after you get your presentation down pat, you get enthusiastic about giving it to the judges. You worry about the stupid stuff you can't prepare for, like dropping your posters or your computer going to sleep."

DECA advisor Ginny Riege says she's excited about the upcoming competition. "This is the 27th year I've been the DECA advisor and I can only count two years that we have not had a national contender," she says. "This is the largest number of people and the largest number of projects we've ever taken to nationals, though."

Call Amanda L. Rohde at 434-2214 or e-mail her at