By Mark Ambrogi
When Chard Reid took over as Carmel High School’s DECA (DECA was once known as the Distributive Education Clubs of America) advisor, there were 150 students in the program
Last year there were 508 participants, making it the sixth largest chapter in the world. Reid said it was only open to the students in the marketing classes when he started. In his first year, it was extended to any business student. Now it’s open for any student who has an interest in business.
“I believe it’s a platform to promote the department anyway because kids have such a good experience when they are participating in DECA,” Reid said. “They realize it’s something they want to study.”
Carmel won the state competition with 304 points. Second-place Munster, which had won the state title seven consecutive years, had 104 points.
“I would argue our numbers makes it harder to have success because each student gets less attention from me and the other advisors,” Reid said. “We’ve pushed hard to make it a student-run organization from the top down. They are casting the vision and training other students. That’s been the biggest change.”
Carmel sent 106 students to the international competition in Orlando, Fla., in late April compared to 31 in 2014.
Madison Feigh, Maria Awad and Sydney Clark took first place in the international competition. Tyler Burdon, Cameron Martin and Joey Huang finished second as did Sam Johnson, Zak Grove and Mark Matsuki.
That trio presented their project, Carmel Cafe, which sells a variety of coffee-based drinks, they had created that was primarily open before school.
Matsuki, a 2015 CHS graduate and 2014-15 DECA president, said there was a complete transformation of the club. In the past, much of the time spent on the club was during meetings.
“Students were taking so much initiative and putting time in on their own,” Matsuki said. “It’s been incredible to see the transition.”
Shakeel Zia, the 2015-16 president, said his first goal is to not only win the state again and again send triple digit numbers to the international competition
“I would also like to have at least 50 finalists this year at the international stage,” Zia said. “Now although these goals may be within our reach, my vision for the upcoming school year is to give every student the opportunity to succeed. We won’t know our competition, so I want to focus on preparation. The more we prepare, the more we are teaching and the more we are doing the purpose of the organization. The overall purpose isn’t to get the trophies and isn’t to get a big bank account through the cafe and marketplace, but it’s to teach the kids. And this is what I want to do, give each kid the opportunity to succeed and hope they take advantage of it.”
Reid is convinced the program will keep growing.
“There was a lot of excitement when we sent 31 kids to internationals and now with sending 106 kids that excitement is going to be exponentially larger,” Reid said. “So many that we took were young kids, six were sophomores and one was a freshman. Kids want to be involved because it’s meaningful and an authentic learning environment.”