Cool Schools: Seven Bridgman students competing at international DECA competition

Cool Schools: Seven Bridgman students competing at international DECA competition


BRIDGMAN, Mich. –Students at Bridgman High School are polishing their presentations and packing their bags. Seven of them will fly to an international competition Friday through the school’s DECA program.

“DECA prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in the areas of marketing, finance, hospitality and management,” said Laura McGee, the advisor for DECA at Bridgman High School. “Nineteen years they’ve had it altogether at Bridgman”

McGee took over as the DECA adviser six years ago. She says her students have made it to the international competition every year since she took over.

“It’s a lot of real world experience that you don’t really get through normal classes,” said Spencer Noll, a senior in DECA at Bridgman High School.

Those students compete in several different ways. One of those is role play.

“That’s when the judge will tell you certain parameters of a business scenario and you have to figure out what you’re going to do to manage employees or do something with money,” said Noll.

There are also written events and what’s called the Merit Award Program.

Of the 250 students at Bridgman High School, 62 of them participate in DECA. McGee says participation jumped five years ago when she opened DECA to the entire school rather than just marketing classes.

Seven students will be heading to the DECA International Career Development Conference happening in Orlando Florida. They’ll be there from April 26 through May 1.

“I’m very excited,” said Reagan Smith, one of the students who will go to internationals. “It’s a great way to meet people and network.”

McGee credits great students for DECA’s success within the school. But as the program grows, so does each student’s skillset.

“It’s a good opportunity to grow and learn how to present information to people,” said Kaitlin Essig, the DECA president at Bridgman High School.

But it’s also an opportunity that’s changing students’ perspectives.

“I had never thought of business as a creative outlet, I’d always wanted to go into something more creative than business but through DECA I found out there’s a lot of creative problem solving and that was enjoyable to me,” said Noll.

Students say it’s also boosting their confidence and ultimately setting the foundation for a better future.

“It brings so so much,” said McGee. “It brings communication skills, problem solving skills teamwork skills. It’s a way for kids to build confidence in themselves. It’s a way for kids to network with adults and people in business and industry. It’s just a really valuable tool to provide skills for the rest of their life in the workplace.”

For more information on DECA, click here.

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