Wayzata High’s budding business students discuss DECA

Minneapolis will host state competition in March

Wayzata High School DECA students carry their first, second and third place trophies at the Jan. 30 awards ceremony for the district DECA competition. From left, Alex Ramler, Bharat Pulgam, Kyle Woods, Ben Grosse and Tyler Young. (Submitted photo)
Wayzata High School DECA students carry their first, second and third place trophies at the Jan. 30 awards ceremony for the district DECA competition. From left, Alex Ramler, Bharat Pulgam, Kyle Woods, Ben Grosse and Tyler Young. (Submitted photo)

Ben Grosse and Kyle Woods are anxious to begin their careers in business. Fortunately for the Wayzata High School seniors, there’s a program designed to help them prepare.

DECA, a 70-year-old nonprofit student organization, aims to instill leadership skills, promote community service and prepare students for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality, management and entrepreneurship.

“It’s been really valuable in just learning how to communicate with people that aren’t necessarily my age,” Woods said. “I’ve been learning how to communicate in a professional manner as well as learning the basics of the business world.”

DECA, which is funded in part by the Minnesota Foundation for Student Organizations, has more than 3,000 student members in Minnesota and more than 200,000 members in 3,500 high schools around the globe.

On Jan. 29, nearly 120 DECA students gathered at Wayzata High for their district competition. Students  stood before judges and gave presentations focused on various business categories – one prepared presentation and one unprepared presentation.

“For your unprepared event, you’ll generally have about 30 minutes to prepare for it and categories range anywhere from management to finance to marketing,” Grosse explained. “And they’ll usually give you a prompt or a problem with a little bit of background on the business. Then they’ll tell you what they want and in a 30-minute timespan you have to formulate a plan for how to attack the problem and how to solve it.”

Wayzata High School students meet Jan. 30 for DECA district competition awards ceremony. (Submitted photo)
Wayzata High School students meet Jan. 30 for DECA district competition awards ceremony. (Submitted photo)

Students then gave an 8- to 10-minute presentation. Together, Grosse and Woods took part in an unprepared team decision making event, which asked the students to consider the best route to save a failing business.

“It was asking us whether we should shrink the product line and the amount of stores or just sell the business completely,” Grosse said. “We had to decide between those two options and then pitch our idea to the CEO and the vice president.”

“We took first place in that event,” Woods added.

In the end, 11 first-place students, 13 second-place students, four third-place students and 51 additional finalists from Wayzata High were chosen to move on to the State DECA Conference March 19-21 at the Hyatt Regency in Minneapolis.

The top 12 teams from state will then move on to the international competition, which is April 26-29 in Anaheim, California, where more than 10,000 DECA members will demonstrate their business knowledge and skills by taking part in competitive events.

Both Grosse and Woods have their eyes set on returning to the international contest. Last year, they were among the few students from Wayzata High who made the cut to attend.

Regardless of how this year turns out, the students said they feel fortunate to be part of DECA and see their involvement as a great way to fuel their confidence as they embark down their career paths.

“I’ll be studying business,” Grosse said. “I’m not exactly sure where yet, but it’ll be somewhere around the east coast. … It’ll probably be marketing, consulting or management, something around there.”

Woods said he’ll likely end up at a Big Ten university and plans to complete a double major in finance and economics.

“DECA’s opened my eyes to the wide variety of career choices and it’s definitely played a role in selecting business as my future,” Woods said.

Contact Jason Jenkins at [email protected]