DECA States Conference


Courtesy of Antonio Marino

Marino and DECA State finalists pose for a picture.

The DECA Club headed to Atlantic City on Tuesday, March 1 for the New Jersey State Competition. 24 students qualified for the state conference. Some students competed in role play activities and others gave presentations that were created in advance in effort to demonstrate various ideas of business ventures. 

In order to be selected for states, all club members had to pass the test, but once students made it to the state conference, they had to place within the top 12 of their combined role play and test scores to advance. 

Three club members qualified for the second round: senior Gianna Benasillo, junior Lynne Kim, and sophomore Krystal Kymn. Kim was a finalist in the quick serve restaurant management event, placing in the top 10 after her first round. Benasillo and Kymn continued onto the next round where Benasillo won first place in the state for retail merchandising and Kymn won fifth place in accounting, allowing both girls to qualify for the national competition next month. 

After being awarded first in the state for her event, Benasillo expressed her excitement for making it to the national level: “It’s great to be a senior and finally make it since I have been in DECA since sophomore year.”

For Kymn, this is her “first time competing in something on a large scale, and it’s also [her] first year in DECA”. As a sophomore competing at the national level, she described the feeling as “surreal”. “I think participating in this is going to help me in the future”, she said. “This is a chance for me to get to know people like Gianna and competitors from other schools. I’m more excited than nervous … this will be an experience I’ll never forget”.

Club advisor Antonio Marino was pleased with the club’s success at the state conference, and noted the excitement of being back in person: “the kids were very professional, and to know they’re getting those skills is very meaningful—the little things like getting dressed up and being face to face with someone is something that goes a long way for a high school student.” 

Benasillo and Kymn will now be required to take another test and perform two additional role plays, all of which are done at the site of the national conference in Atlanta, Georgia. If the girls place within the top 20 in their individual events, they become finalists and are then required to do an additional role play to see if they can place again. 

The National DECA event includes upwards of 5,000 DECA students, and Marino expressed his excitement for having national qualifiers that get to be a part of that: “After two years of not being able to go to nationals, it’s a great experience to travel with all of them and watch them grow. It’s just such a change of pace and really allows them to showcase their skills”, he said. 

Marino, along with Northern Valley Demarest’s DECA advisor Nancy Lopus, will accompany Benasillo, Kymn, and 10 NVD qualifiers to the national conference in Atlanta, which will take place from April 23 to 27.