Orono High School's DECA Dogs attend international conference

More than 30 Orono High School students recently participated at an international DECA conference.

Orono sent 34 national qualifiers to the DECA International Career Development Conference in Salt Lake City. There, they joined more than 14,000 high school students, business professionals, marketing teachers and volunteers at the conference.

The four-day conference, which had the theme of Aspire Higher, was packed with events. Aside from competing, the students attended a baseball game, a fashion show and a concert by the Eli Young Band. The Jabawockeez, the group that won the first season of the television show America’s Best Dance Crew, performed during the opening ceremonies of the conference.

"For those who qualify for Nationals, you are striving for the competition on Preliminary Monday," said Keith Jurek, Orono High School DECA adviser and marketing teacher.

On Preliminary Monday, each student competes in his or her respective events. The next morning, competitors find out if they are finalists at a preliminary award ceremony. This year, Orono’s DECA Dogs had four teams make the final round.

The students drove more than 26 hours to attend the conference and they returned home with many awards. The team of Allie Esau, Sophia Sodhi and Talia Zadeh competed in the event Public Relations Project and placed in the top 16. The team of Ellie Heidorn and Cora McCuskey competed in Sports and Entertainment Marketing Operations Event and placed fourth. Kelsey Longe competed in Independent Entrepreneurship Participating Event and earned an eighth-place finish. Bringing home a bronze third place award was the team of Maddy Brown and Abbey Saville, who competed in the International Business Plan event.

Jurek said that success is not determined by the number of medals or students who qualified for the conference. He said that he places high value on the lessons, skills and confidence that DECA teaches students, regardless of how far they make it in competitions.

"What’s truly rewarding is all the compliments I received from those who interacted with my students," said Jurek.

– By Talia Zadeh. Zadeh is the editor-in-chief of the Orono High School newspaper Spartan Speaks.