By Elaine Zhai
From Saturday, Aug. 18 to Sunday, Aug. 19, over 65 students attended the Harker DECA chapter’s fifth-annual DECA Launch, an event designed to introduce DECA to prospective members and to provide an overview of The Harker School’s business, economics and entrepreneurship department. Through alumni panels, detailed presentations, guest speakers, mock tournaments and interactive activities, students were given a realistic idea of the upcoming DECA year.
“Through the numerous activities that we have planned, DECA Launch provides a great opportunity for students to become familiar with not only DECA and the B.E. department, but also the upper school as a whole,” said Shania Wang, grade 12, Harker DECA chief executive officer. “This year, we introduced a lot of new changes based on feedback from previous years, which allowed us to host the best possible event for all of the students. We also had the most attendees compared to previous years, so I’m excited and hopeful for a successful year.”
Early Saturday morning, students met the chapter advisors and officers while enjoying breakfast from Noah’s Bagels in the Nichols Hall atrium. They then headed into the auditorium for the student opening ceremony, where former California DECA president David Xu, former co-CEO Shreyas Chandrashekaran ’18 and the former vice president of operations Vignesh Panchanatham ’18 shared their experiences with DECA and its impact on their future endeavors. Students also were given the opportunity to hear from previous Harker DECA alumni, including Glenn Reddy ’15, Jeton Gutierrez-Bujari ’15 and Lucas Wang ’17.
Afterward, the officers held an interactive ice-breaker during which students mingled before heading to the Innovation Center, where Juston Glass, the chapter advisor, introduced the Innovation Challenge. Students split themselves into teams of five to six, and with the guidance of an assigned mentor, each team thought of an innovative idea to explore and present at the closing ceremony.
“I think what I loved most during the mentoring process was seeing how excited and hard working the students in my team were during the challenge. I remember that after they went home on the first day, they shared and worked on their presentation even during Saturday night,” said Claire Luo, grade 10, director of role-plays. “In fact, when I saw them the next morning, they had come up with a new, more innovative idea than before and had created a beautiful presentation. That was when I realized how motivated these students were and how much I enjoyed helping them.”
Lunch followed, which gave participants time to continue to work with their teams while enjoying pizza from Pizza My Heart before the Scavenger Hunt. For the Scavenger Hunt, students were asked to find the DECA officers who were spread around campus. Each team received riddles revealing the location of each of the officers and a task to accomplish, allowing students to bond with the officers and explore the upper school campus.
The afternoon consisted of lectures on the different clusters: business management and administration, marketing, hospitality and tourism, finance and entrepreneurship. The day ended with more Innovation Challenge time before students headed home, concluding a successful first day of Launch.
The next day, students arrived at the Innovation Center early in the morning to mingle and learn about Harker’s various business, economics and entrepreneurship programs through a presentation by Glass. Then, student entrepreneur Mahi Kolla, grade 11, founder of TheMintyBoutique and executive VP of Harker DECA, shared her own experiences with creating her company. Competitive demonstrations followed, including a live role-play by Luo and an overview of written events by Anvitha Tummala, grade 10, Harker DECA director of written events. Following this, students were given some more time to work on the Innovation Challenge while enjoying burritos from Chipotle.
One of the last events of DECA Launch was the Role-Play Tournament, where officers and associate mentors introduced small groups of students to the expectations and guidelines of a role-play events. Students then paired up and received a chance to compete by preparing and presenting a role-play to the judges.
Next, students received their final allotment of time to wrap up their presentations for the Innovation Challenge before parents began to arrive for dinner and the closing ceremony. Each team introduced and presented their ideas to the judges, who graded each team based on innovation, sustainability, teamwork and presentation. Afterward, while the judges tabulated the scores, the students and parents enjoyed a recap video of the weekend. DECA Launch 2018 concluded with the announcement of the winners of the Role-Play Tournament and the Innovation Challenge, as well as closing remarks from Glass and Wang.
“The Launch was a fun, interactive and extremely informational weekend, and it has definitely sparked many ideas for my future in high school and in DECA,” said attendee Dawson Chen, grade 9.
Harker DECA is thrilled to welcome all the new and returning members and looks forward to another successful year as a community and chapter.
“This year’s Launch has been absolutely amazing, and I truly believe that they have a bright year of DECA ahead of them,” said Glass.
Students that won awards are as follows:
1st place: Irene Yuan and Teresa Cai, both grade 9
2nd place: Michael Tran and Rishab Parthasarathy, both grade 9
3rd place: Aimee Wang and Gloria Zhu, both grade 9
Best Innovation: Alina Yuan, Aimee Wang, Kaden Kapadia, Shika Tseitlin, Gloria Zhu, all grade 9
Best Sustainability: Daniel Wu, Alivia Li, Dawson Chen, Vedant Kenkare, Nikki Kapadia, Ethan Huang, all grade 9
Teamwork and Presentation: Saanvi Arora, Harshil Garg, Trinity Chan, Tina Zhong, William Chien, Vinay Sudarsanam, all grade 9
Overall: April Sun, Rohan Rashingkar, Catherine Fung, Andrew Vodhin-Ho, Arvin Nidadavolu, Sujith Pakala, all grade 9
About The Harker School DECA
Harker DECA is an International Competitive Business Organization that prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in four fields of business: marketing, finance, hospitality and management. Our DECA chapter integrates classroom instruction, applies learning, connects to business and promotes competition in order to prepare the next generation to be academically prepared, community oriented, professionally responsible and experienced leaders.
To learn more about this story, please contact:
Elaine Zhai, Director of Communications