DECA Heads to States

24 members will head to Atlantic City to compete in the NJ state competition


Antonio Marino

NVOT DECA at States two years ago.

After COVID-19 forced NVOT’s DECA club to be virtual for district, state, and national competitions the past two school years, members will finally head back to Atlantic City to compete in the New Jersey state competition.  

Twenty-four students qualified for States which are being held on March 1. Here, members will partake in roleplay activities in front of a panel of professional business men and women. Students’ presentations depend on the students’ cluster and topic of choice. Clusters include areas such as marketing, accounting, and entrepreneurship, while topics range from restaurant and food service to social media to automotive services. 

To qualify for the state competition, students must take a district test against students from other Bergen County schools. Only the top 15 participants in each cluster qualify for states. The students who pass the test will take another content exam the week of January 31, which makes up one-third of their score in the state competition. 

After two years of virtual competition, club advisors and members are equally excited to be back in person. Club advisor Antonio Marino said that in-person roleplay is “really good for on the fly, creative thinking.” He noted that students are “forced to be face-to-face with professionals from the business world, which teaches them eye contact, how to shake a hand — skills that high school students don’t get the chance to practice.” 

Senior Erin Schoolsky also expressed her enthusiasm for being back for in-person competitions: “It’s exciting that so many of us moved on, especially after last year where everything was virtual,” she said. “I’m looking forward to competing at states, and seeing how far I can take my skills that I’ve been working on for years now.” 

The state competition is worth a possible 300 points in total: 100 for each of the two roleplays, and 100 for the content exam. Students are notified of their made-up situation, intended audience, and the roles they will play. They then have ten minutes to plan a presentation and ten minutes to present. Only the top six in each event qualify for nationals — an event that Marino hopes students will have the opportunity to attend. 

For some DECA members, being back in person is nerve-racking, especially with the pressure of the state competition. Senior Ryan Woo, who qualified for states both his junior and senior year, noted the difference between standing in front of others versus being behind a screen:

“Having to present live can be scary at times”

— Ryan Woo

The transition from going from a virtual presentation to having to stand up in front of business professionals who are watching your every move isn’t always easy.” Despite the nerves, Woo discussed his feelings about the experience, and his optimism for nationals in the near future. “It’s cool to think that if the roleplay goes well, I could showcase myself at the national level,” he said. 

In past years NVOT typically brought 10-15 students each year to nationals, according to Marino. With this number in mind, he hopes that many students will continue to qualify this year and head to the national competition in Anaheim, California at the end of April.