The Peabody High School chapter of Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA)—a national association of students who have aspirations of entering the world of business and marketing—is on its way to Salt Lake City on Friday for the International Career Development Conference.
From April 28 to May 1, nine students from Peabody will participate in a variety of leadership and career advancing academies with 15,000 advisors, business people, alumni, and students from around the country and globe. Students can also participate in over 45 different categories of competitive team and individual events encompassing principles of business administration, operation, marketing and sales.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity for our students,” Peabody High Principal Ed Sapienza said. “Some of these kids probably haven’t been much farther than 10 miles outside of Peabody. Now they get to fly across country, and they will be meeting with kids from all over the country and the world.”
The students had to make it through rounds of local and district competition, and as they did last year when they competed in Orlando, they impressed panels of judges with presentations and conceptual testing for the right to move on to what the DECA website terms “the highlight of the DECA year.”
Over $300,000 in scholarships are awarded at the conference each year. Students who don’t receive scholarship money still walk away with valuable insight on how to prepare for survival in a fast-paced business world.
“Especially this day and age where everything’s so competitive for jobs and careers, it really gives our kids a great exposure to what it’s like,” Sapienza said.
This year, the program teamed up with the Woburn-based company Community Crunch Fundraising to help raise money by selling a cereal aptly named Tanner Crunch. The student business has positions at all of the major levels of a real company— from president, vice president and board of directors, down to distribution—and now those involved are bringing their entrepreneurial talent across the country.
“They made sort of a mock corporation,” Sapienza said. “They’re learning a great deal about how a real corporation works. It’s a great simulation, we’re very lucky to have this program.”
Local businesses sponsored the venture, and profit from the 5,000 boxes of cereal (there are about 1,500 yet to be sold) is used toward DECA activities. A portion will also be donated to the American Cancer Society and put into a technology program at the school.