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Sandy Journal

Twelve Alta High students competed at international career development conference

Jun 06, 2023 10:08AM ● By Julie Slama

Twelve Alta High students recently returned from Orlando where they met up with about 20,000 students, teachers and professionals at the International Career Development Conference to demonstrate their career knowledge and leadership skills through their DECA presentations and competitive events. 

“It’s been a great year,” said Alta High DECA adviser Shaley Louder. “To even get to go to nationals, they needed to be competitive in their events at state, so it’s a great honor.”

DECA prepares high school and college students to become leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management. There are more than 220,000 students who are members in more than 3,600 high school chapters.

“Our students are learning problem-solving skills, leadership skills, making good decisions and are learning skills that can help them in the field,” Louder said. “They are gaining confidence, sharing what they learn and are having adult conversations which will carry them into their future.” 

The Alta students finished in the top six at the state competition, including senior Austin Woodley being crowned state champion in the business finance contest.

Other top Alta finishers include freshman Quincy Thatcher, second in school-based enterprise; junior Brooklyn Woodley, third in food marketing; freshman Jessica Roberts, third in school-based enterprise; freshman Taylor Alvey, fourth in school-based enterprise; senior Erica Lloyd, sixth in retail management; the team of juniors Dima Kurdi and Madilyn Schuck and freshmen Ansley Johnson and Emi Johnson, national qualifiers in membership campaign; and the team of freshmen Colin Hansen, Cole Haddock and Sam Wray, national qualifiers in community service campaign.

Competing is optional for Alta’s 70 DECA members. Others learn leadership through chapter activities, such as selling “stars” to raise funds for the school’s annual fundraiser, Make-A-Wish Foundation in their school store. Others took charge of organizing and decorating a school hallway for an event.

DECA students also learn from business professionals, both as guest speakers and through onsite visits.

They took a field trip to Castle of Chaos where they not only toured the operation during the season, but learned how it functions off-season as a rental for parties or weddings and as an escape room.

“They learned that it wasn’t as cost-effective for Castle of Chaos to rent a space, set up and take it down, but instead to continuously update the haunted house and learned how they support the seasonal service in the off-season. They learned a lot about being an entrepreneur and the CTE (career and technical education) trades from lighting and sound to ticket sales and partnerships,” she said, adding that the partnership has extended well beyond her seven years as adviser as several Alta students have worked or had internships with the haunted house in the past.

Other opportunities students took advantage of was meeting with KSL and Utah Jazz executives. 

“They learned from business executives about communication and sports marketing; we’re fortunate that they get to learn firsthand from them,” she said.

The student chapter also teamed up with other Alta student organizations and clubs.

For example, DECA students explored cows’ hearts and lungs with health science students and made baked goods with family and consumer science students.

“It’s an opportunity to extend our learning and to share what we’re doing,” she said. “It’s been a great year for our students to become involved and learn in our community.” λ