BCA’s DECA Chapter Competes– Back In Person!

Clara Barsoum, Writer

When was the last time you remember a school field trip? For many of us, the answer is middle school. BCA’s DECA’s recent state conference competition, which took place in Atlantic City from February 28th to March 2nd, demonstrated how that is changing and planted a seed of hope for the future. 

At BCA, DECA is a business extracurricular activity exclusive to students in the Academy of Business and Finance. Typically, qualifying students compete at an annual state conference. This year’s conference, however, has not been like many in recent memory; this time, DECA was back in person and hosted at Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City. Students departed on February 28th and returned on March 2nd, officially making it the first overnight trip BCA has hosted since the pandemic shutdown. 

DECA is special in that it offers its participants options in how they choose to compete: there are roleplays, binders, and miscellaneous contests. Roleplays are preceded by an exam and emphasize quick problem solving, as you have roughly 10 minutes to prepare a pitch based on the given prompt. Binders allow more preparation– like any other presentation, you compile a script, visual aspects, and any other information you deem necessary to get your point across. There are also stock market games and different virtual business challenges that broaden the horizon of what is popular at DECA. 

In a sample pool of three randomly polled DECA participants, one is performing both a roleplay and a 20-page binder, one is performing a stock market game and a roleplay, and one is performing a 10-page binder. This demonstrates the diversity of engagement possible at DECA.  

At BCA, DECA is exclusive to ABF members, giving the chapter a competitive edge as their participants have business and finance incorporated into their curriculum.  Preparation is different for everyone, but the DECA Wednesday project gives freshmen an opportunity to get acquainted with the process of preparation amongst other members. 

However, even for sophomores who have the experience of last year, this competition was like nothing else. In-person DECA is far more structured, and preparation becomes more important. Emily Zhang, a member of the DECA Board at BCA, said, “The environment will motivate you to do your best to qualify, but that is predicated on the preparation that you put in before your event. Whether that means finding roleplays online to practice or rehearsing your binder presentations, you want to rely on your preparation to do well, especially when you’re placed in this new, unfamiliar environment”. 

That being said, the formality of DECA does not get in the way of its capacity to entertain and enjoy. It is a treasured memory of ABF alumni, who were able to bond and forge memories with friends through their experience. One DECA upperclassman writes this as their advice to underclassmen: “Above all else, have fun! DECA is one of the rare opportunities where almost all of ABF will be together, so cherish the bonding time you will have with your peers in Atlantic City while everyone else is stuck in school”. 

The BCA administration, Mr. Gutierrez, DECA Board, and DECA members have worked tirelessly to make this trip possible. Changes have been made such as limiting the number of allowed roommates and investing in more transportation to encourage social distancing. DECA Board has stated that they believe this is the start of a return to normalcy at BCA, as it will spearhead other clubs and organizations to seek out in-person opportunities. 

This past DECA States trip set the tone for the beginning of normalcy in BCA’s field trips. There were no COVID-19 related issues that may have made the administration wary of future ventures. It is a hopeful look towards the future.