The DECA club at Orillia Secondary School (OSS) is going to provincials in Toronto in February, and its members couldn’t be more thrilled.
DECA is an international club in high schools and colleges that prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality, and management. The organization does this through competitions, both written and oral, and other extracurricular opportunities for the students.
The OSS club is in its first year, and 80 per cent of its members did so well at the regional competition this fall, they are advancing to the provincial competition.
“It’s really amazing for a small, first-year club, at a public school, to have done so well,” said club president Denis Granulo. “To have 13 out of our 16 members qualify is outstanding. And then, they have a leadership conference there as well during provincials, so we actually get to take all of our members to Toronto to learn and participate.”
Granulo founded the DECA club at OSS.
“I took a Grade 11 accounting course in Grade 10, and just fell in love with business. I searched for different initiatives, but I couldn’t find any locally. I approached my accounting teacher, and she was really thrilled to start the club here,” he said.
Because of the pandemic, DECA and competing weren’t possible until this year, but the club is making up for lost time.
“All of our members compete, and you get to choose what business-related category you compete in. You do an online exam related to the category you chose, then you move on to regionals and are orally quizzed on a case in that category. The choices are marketing, hospitality, finance, management, entrepreneurship. I think we all competed in almost all of them,” said club vice-president Cole Bremner.
At the regional competition, the OSS club members were up against clubs from the northeast sector, and all of those clubs were in private schools, according to Granulo. After provincials, clubs that advance have a chance to compete internationally. Twenty thousand students competed in regionals, and only 6,000 moved on to provincials, said Bremner.
“DECA is a great opportunity to not only work and get to know each other as a team in our own club, but also to meet so many other people through these events,” said Granulo. “It brings everyone together and it lets us create a network through all the other DECA clubs we encounter.”
The DECA club at OSS is supported by three chapter advisers — teachers Christina Aust, Thomas Hinsberger and Kim Shatkowski. Aust teaches business, and the other two teach math.
“Ms. Aust helped form a club in Innisfil and then came here, and so was able to help start the club here,” Hinsberger explained.
Hinsberger has a business background and Shatkowski was familiar with DECA from her previous school in Peel, so both were excited to help the students with the fledgling club.
Myles Odlozinski is one of the younger students in the club, in Grade 11.
“I knew some of the executive,” Odlozinski explained, “and I thought it would be fun to join. It’s super fun, a new experience. I got to meet a bunch of people and work on new skills that I wouldn’t have a chance to do elsewhere.”
The club meets every Thursday for an hour at lunch, to facilitate students who are bused in. With provincials coming, members and advisers plan to meet more often and to host mock competitions to get members ready for provincials. Members can’t miss more than three meetings in a year.
Six of the 16 members of the club identify as female, and three of them are going to provincials. Madison Michell, Grade 12, is competing in the marketing sector.
“I have taken business since Grade 9. I’ve always really enjoyed it and have applied to university for business,” she said. “I just decided to join and try out the club to further my knowledge in business.”
Michell emphasized she put a lot of studying into preparing for regionals, and it was nerve racking to participate in the oral part of the competition.
“You have to talk to a judge about your ideas and they ask you questions,” she explained.
All agreed DECA has helped them with many skills, including self-confidence, public speaking, presentations, and business and financial literacy. Most of the members are making plans to go to university, and most are planning on studying business.
Members pay $90 a year to join the club, which helps cover the cost of uniforms and other club expenses.
“If someone can’t afford that, we would make sure we make accommodations so there is no barrier for anyone to join,” said vice-president Noah Goguen.
He said that the club is looking for financial support to help defray the $5,000 cost of going to provincials. They hope to approach local businesses and run a hock shop through the school as well.
More information about the OSS DECA club, including how to support it with its trip to the provincial competition, is available by emailing Bremner at [email protected].