PLAINFIELD — November is national DECA month, and for Plainfield High School’s burgeoning program, that means gaining hopeful notoriety for one of the most growing clubs in the school over the last three years.
“A lot of people don’t even know what it stands for, which is Distributing Education Clubs of America,” says Michelle Goda, a PHS senior and a national state officer for the club.
Goda says that when she entered PHS, the DECA club there had only 10 members. Last year, they had around 115 and this year they’re climbing up to near that number as well.
“We want to raise awareness to gain more students so we can create better business students for what we want to go into,” she said.
The club will do a host of fundraisers throughout this month, including trying to raise funds for Thanksgiving baskets that they are handing out to families in need from each school in the corporation. They will also have fundraisers at the Plainfield Red Robin restaurant on Nov. 27 and at Culver’s restaurant in town on Nov. 28.
She says the blueprint is there for the program to take off, but a key is raising funds to be able to take club members to state and national competitions, as well as creating a pipeline with younger students that make the transition to the club seamless in high school.
“Awareness comes from students realizing the gains from it,” Goda said. “It’s become more publicized in our school. Now we’re making advanced marketing students compete and that’s gotten new members. We want to reach out to other schools in our community and we’ve learned that if you ask the other elementary schools for their help, that reaches the parents. It’s kind of giving you a preview show of what’s to come and parents say ‘this is cool. I wish I had that when I was in high school.’”
The gains are also tangible, and in an economic climate where it’s difficult to find a job, DECA can help create a pathway.
“We have partnerships with businesses in the community and if you put DECA down on your resume and they like your character, they’re going to look at you because DECA is so highly esteemed among businesses,” Goda said. “There is also a collegiate level of DECA and it’s more like a fraternity or sorority at that level and it’s really cool how it can help you get into the business world because people know you have that experience already, so you’re just one step ahead of the rest. You come in knowing the vocabulary, the practice. It’s not something you were just taught; it’s something you practiced and played out.”
PHS DECA students have the opportunity during school time to work on projects that they will present at a state and national level. During that time, they also forge relationships with local business owners as it’s required to succeed in the projects.
“We’ve had DECA alums come back and say ‘I actually learned this in DECA and used it in an interview and they said it’s really interesting that you knew that because we usually need to teach that,’” Goda said. “That’s something that’s really cool about DECA. You learn interview skills, pick your competition. It’s neat just trying to see what is currently going on in the community around you, once you get your ideas and your guidelines.”
Goda said the PHS program isn’t necessarily the largest in the area, but students and parents here are able to see the gains that come from being a part of it.
“A lot of people think it’s just a big party — the competitions,” she said. “And it is fun, but we’ve got to let you know what you’re going to gain from it. The first year when I found out about it was through a poster board and now we’re sharing it through Twitter, e-mail, Facebook, Instagram. It’s interesting how we can reach out to so many people (only three years later) as opposed to standing in a hall reaching one at a time.
“I could see technology taking over jobs (in the future). Instead of sending out people for a presentation, you’re sending out a video. We’ve got to be able to manage something better than a computer. That’s kind of what DECA is doing — creating the best and brightest of the marketing world.”
For more information about the PHS DECA program, visit the website at www.plainfield.k12.in.us.