This article originally appeared in the winter 2014 Harker Quarterly.
Numerous fall events sponsored by Harker’s DECA chapter and business and entrepreneurship department set the tone for an exciting year. Activities included the kickoff of the annual Stock Market Game (in which Harker is the reigning champion), DECA Month and the ambitious BEcon2014.
DECA started the year with a flurry of events designed to introduce the student body to its mission and goals, while also preparing for competition season. In November, the chapter coordinated numerous on-campus events in conjunction with DECA Month, an international DECA celebration.
An ice cream social, hosted by the DECA chapter in early November, gave students the chance to ask officers about the upcoming DECA year while enjoying a mouth-watering treat.
In mid-November, more than 60 Harker students attended Silicon Valley DECA’s Leadership and Competitive Excellence (LACE) Conference. This three-day event was targeted at underclassmen with limited experience in competitive DECA events. The keynotes were delivered by motivational speaker Scott Greenberg and Jennifer Aaker, a social psychologist and marketing professor at Stanford University’s School of Business. Events were created to be informative and welcoming, with hands-on workshops in the fields of hospitality, investment banking, fashion and venture capitalism. Sophia Luo, grade 11, said, “In
my opinion, the best part of attending LACE is the networking opportunities that it provides. Students from all over the Silicon Valley who have the same interests in business congregate and exchange stories, memories and knowledge.”
DECA gives back
A large part of DECA’s charter focuses on giving back to community. During DECA Month, the chapter hosted events to raise money for and aware- ness of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the Red Cross and organizations dedicated to ending world hunger.
The first of these events was the Nov. 12 Hoops and Scoops basketball game, which raised money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. The game pitted faculty against students on the court, while DECA members sold ice cream on the sidelines. The raucous crowd watched as the faculty battled the freshmen in the first quarter, followed by the sophomores and the juniors. The faculty finally fell to the seniors in the final quarter, with a score of 72-59.
Then on Nov. 15, DECA members gathered to assemble more than 100 Red Cross disaster kits for families who homes were damaged by natural disasters.
The DECA chapter then paired with Students for Charitable Causes to organize a movie night to raise awareness of world hunger. The groups sold more than 60 tickets to the Nov. 21 premier of “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1,” with proceeds from the event going to Second Harvest Food Bank.
Playing the market, staying connected
The 2014 season of The Stock Market Game is also in full swing, with Harker students and faculty working to create portfolios to outperform the S&P index. The national competition pits teams and individuals against each other, both at Harker and across the country. For the first 10 weeks of the competition, Harker had two to four teams in the top 25 in the Western region. Last year, three Harker teams finished in the top 25 in the Western region, a high standard that current competitors hope to match.
This year, the B.E. podcast series picks up where it left off last year by “gather[ing] influential people from the Harker community and beyond to share their experiences with students, parents and even the public,” explained Glenn Reddy, grade 12, founder of the series.
“The podcast team has been working to expand outside of the B.E. department” and recently put out a series of weekly podcasts leading up to the midterm elections, Reddy explained. The series included a number of thoughtful interviews with high-ranking officials, including U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (California’s 19th district) and U.S. Rep. Mike Honda (California’s 17th district). The final interview, released Nov. 17, featured Mike Wasserman, president of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. Stay tuned, as the team plans to expand into more areas this year.
One of B.E.’s biggest returning programs is Career Connect, which includes a mentorship program, career panels and a professionalism program. Career Connect aims to prepare students not only land the careers they want once they graduate, but also to excel in them. To this end, the B.E. department organized a resume workshop led by Michelle Vitus, founder of Slate Advisers, a company dedicated to helping professionals manage career transitions. Laya Indukuri, grade 12, who helped organize the event, said she thought “hearing a professional talk about major do’s and don’ts really helped to give [the students] a big picture of what a resume should look like.”
Students, Speakers Shine at Inaugural BEcon2014
BEcon2014, the B.E. department’s largest event to date, was a daylong conference comprising multiple keynotes, student presentations and guided activities that explained the principles of business and economics. It was “essentially a research symposium [that] explored the marriage of economics and business,” summarized Juston Glass, head of the B.E. department.
The event gave B.E. students the ability to showcase their classroom efforts. The students worked early in the year to create advertising campaigns for products and companies of their choice, which were showcased during the first BEcon session.
Ran Abramitzky, associate professor of economics at Stanford, opened the day’s events in earnest. His keynote address focused on the economics of education. Abramitzky’s talk was based on his research, which emphasized the importance of education on economic situations for immigrants. Samuel Lepler, Harker economics teacher, praised Abramitzky’s discussion for being “both a great introduction to the economic way of thinking as well as an interesting investigation into a topic that most people take for granted. Namely, whether college is actually a good investment. It was both informative and inspirational!”
The mentor luncheon provided an informal atmosphere in which students could meet with their mentors to discuss their future careers as well as their mentors’ career accomplishments.
Perhaps the best-received session of the day was the sHarker Tank event, which paired the ingenuity of Harker’s students with the format of the popular TV show Shark Tank. Teams presented business proposals to a panel of judges. The winning product, a laser-guided device to provide superior feedback to blind users (a virtual “red cane”) was both philanthropic and entrepreneurial in nature.
Jeremy King, CTO of global e-commerce for Walmart Labs, closed out the day with his keynote, focused on his success in increasing Walmart’s global footprint. He used the success of Walmart Labs to highlight the overall industry themes involving the movement away from traditional brick and mortar stores to e-commerce.
In the first few months of the school year, the DECA chapter continued its work at Harker, while maintaining its national reputation as a top performer at competitions and conventions. Meanwhile the B.E. department put its best foot forward with the ambitious BEcon2014 event. In the coming months, Harker’s entrepreneurs surely will have more in store to keep students, teachers and parents engaged and active in the community.