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DECA gearing up for international competition

The "See It, Say It, Stop It" team will be heading to Anaheim, Calif. in April for the International DECA competition. Pictured left to right: Ryan Purrier, Nathan Mickelson, Allison Nowacki, Holly Nowacki, Whitney Wasko, Ashley Lax, Dan O'Neil, Hannah Johnson, Skylar Lysaker and Calvin Luhrsen. Photo: LaReesa Sandretsky

In March, the Two Harbors DECA team earned a trip to the international competition in Anaheim, Calif., by placing third in the state competition. Now, with their eyes set on internationals at the end of April, they're improving their project to make it more competitive and fundraising furiously to make the trip possible.

Though the location is exciting--Anaheim is home to Disneyland and tropical temps this time of year--Benson said the trip is about competition and education, not just a fun vacation.

"We've worked really hard and we're still working," said Julie Benson, adviser for the kids and teacher at Two Harbors High School. Jay Belcastro, assistant principal at THHS, is also an adviser for the team.

The team of 10 competed in the state competition with their "See It, Say It, Stop It" anti-bullying campaign. Though the team is only in its second year, they defeated nine other teams to win a trip to the international competition.

The students aren't the only ones succeeding: Benson was named the Rookie Marketing Teacher of the Year at the state competition in March.

"We couldn't do it without Mrs. Benson and Mr. Belcastro's help," said junior member Ashley Lax.

DECA is an organization that prepares students for careers in business, and the students have learned countless skills through the competitions, Benson said. Public speaking, building a solid marketing plan and confidence are just a few she named.

"It's all about education," Benson said.

Now, the kids are getting a crash course in fundraising and finance. They've been helping to plan the Anaheim trip and budget their money, and they've been actively fundraising. They'll continue to do so until they leave. The trip will cost around $1,300 per student. They've already received some donations and support from a mix of individuals and businesses, but there's a long way to go.

In addition to funding their trip, they're working hard to improve their campaign and prepare it for the big leagues in Anaheim. While their program has found success in Two Harbors and Silver Bay, they want to spread it to other school districts.

To that end, on April 12 they are holding a workshop for student representatives from area schools. They will teach the students about the "See It, Say It, Stop It" campaign and encourage them to implement something similar in their district. Then, they will film a commercial with the help of FOX 21, to spread the message further.

As for the continuation of the program in Two Harbors and Silver Bay, they hope to reevaluate the anti-bullying campaign after the competition and find ways to ensure that it continues in the Lake Superior School District.

More information:

Upcoming DECA fundraising events

• April 4-5: Bake Sale Fundraiser at the Two Harbors Federal Credit Union during normal business hours.

• April 6: Garage Sale at 1621 Highway 12. All proceeds go to DECA.

• April 13: Chili feed with entertainment provided by Two Harbors Ukulele Group, 4 p.m. at Emmanuel Lutheran Church. $5 adults/$3 kids.

In the works: Duct Tape for DECA. Students will pay to duct tape teachers to the wall and can also buy whipped cream pies to throw at them.

Ongoing: Purchase raffle tickets for$5 from DECA students for the chance to win $300, $200 or $100; DECA students bagging groceries at Super One in Two Harbors for donations.

Mail donations to Two Harbors Federal Credit Union, Booster Club/DECA Account 626 Second Avenue,Two Harbors.

LaReesa Sandretsky
LaReesa Sandretsky is a Two Harbors High School graduate and Duluth native who began working at the News-Chronicle in 2012 as a reporter. She took over as editor in 2014. She covers County Board, including the Lake County broadband project.
(218) 834-2141