TPHS students win several awards at Distributive Education Clubs of America conference

Torrey Pines High School participants at the SoCal DECA conference.

Sponsored and supported by the Torrey Pines Education Fund of the Torrey Pines High School Foundation, the Torrey Pines High School Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) team attended their first SoCal DECA conference in Anaheim Jan. 10-12. Over 500 students participated from around the country in written exams and case study role-play scenarios. Even though it was their first time, TPHS students did not disappoint. The team earned several awards and recognitions, 2nd and 3rd places in events, but also took home some of the overall grand awards. TP student Kelly Wang came in 2nd place overall in the Principles of Marketing category and Diane Zhou came in 1st place overall in the Food Marketing Series category. TP business teacher and DECA advisor Shannon Taylor stated, “This was such a great experience! We are all excited to work hard for the next one.”

DECA is a worldwide program that aims to prepare emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for their future careers in finance, marketing and management. With over 3,500 high schools participating, students have the opportunity to compete in competitive conferences and virtual competitions. Not only is it very competitive, but it opens participants up to what business careers are like, which can help them settle on the decision of what they want to do after high school. In DECA, students participate in role-play scenarios, written exams, business pitches, and mock interviews. They also improve their presentation skills and get more hands-on experience in their use of virtual business simulations. Students are tested on marketing, management, hospitality and finance. In addition to the competitions, the DECA students participate in community volunteer work, and organize fundraisers while practicing their networking and communication skills.

Sophia Gawle and Kelly Wang (DECA officers)

The DECA program at Torrey Pines High School has increased in both popularity and size since its establishment last year by TP business teacher Shannon Taylor. Taylor, who has taught for three years at TP, volunteers her time to help students understand the importance of business in the real world through DECA. Some of the examples include building real businesses with real money. The DECA program runs concurrently with the Career Technical Education (CTE) pathway at Torrey Pines High School, allowing students to gain college credits and complete a pathway for their college applications. TP student Yara Qadan commented, “DECA allows me to explore business while still having fun!” The Business Pathway is the most populated pathway at Torrey Pines, and also has more participants than any pathway in the entire district.

Sophia Gawle, a member of DECA, comments on how the program has affected her so far, “DECA has given us a unique experience separate from a traditional business classroom. We are given so many opportunities that allow us to utilize business skills we have accumulated from high school (public speaking, marketing, leading) that allow us to express our natural talents and further gain business skills.” Those involved in the program hope that within the next few years, they will receive full funding from the district so that they will have the opportunity to grow and help more students succeed in the business world.

Taylor believes that “participating in real world experiences, leadership opportunities, and experiences that build not only the students’ resumes, but their professional skills as well, are crucial to add to the traditional high school experience.” She says she was motivated to start DECA at Torrey Pines because of the “drive, passion, and self-motivation of the DECA leaders,” and felt that they possess all of the qualities of future CEOs, entrepreneurs and leaders. DECA student Emma Lee summarized the impact DECA has had on her, “DECA has helped me find a community that is not well taught in school. I’ve always had an interest in business and DECA has confirmed that this is what I want to pursue.” — News release