Wareham High School DECA Club a 'force' at district competition

Jan 28, 2018

When students in Wareham High School’s DECA Club arrived at this year’s district competition, held earlier this month on Cape Cod, other clubs took notice.

“We’ve been competing with them for the past four years,” said senior Sara Gallagher, the club’s vice president of marketing. “Everyone knows now that Wareham is a force. When you tell people where you’re from, they know.”

Students in the club, which prepares students to be leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, management, finance and hospitality, are in the middle of competition season. At those events, students are given business-related role play scenarios and written tests. Using what they they’ve learned throughout the year about accounting, economics, project management and other areas, students work out problems they might encounter in the business world before a panel of judges.

Of the 71 Wareham students that competed at districts, 30 placed well enough to go to the state conference, set for March 8 -10 in Boston. In total, 590 students from eight schools across the South Coast competed in the district 8 competition.

Three Wareham DECA students earned first place overall wins, two achieved second place overall wins and eight achieved third place overall wins in their categories.

Lizzie Ruiz, a senior, took home first place in the accounting category. This is her fourth year with the club.

For her scenario, Ruiz played the role of the executive director of a nonprofit. She had to discuss whether or not the nonprofit should change its fiscal year to match the calendar year of the fictional group’s board of directors.

For senior David Chalmers, DECA is a brand new experience. Chalmers, who moved from Tennessee to Wareham this year, was recruited by DECA advisor Maurice Moniz (affectionally called MoMo by students).

“MoMo pestered me for weeks to join her personal finance class and I ended up doing really well on one of the tests,” said Chalmers, describing a test that DECA students from across the country take.

“He scored an 86, which is amazing,” said Gallagher. “I’ve been in DECA for four years, and I’ve never scored that high.” The written test features 100 questions and a score of 75 is considered very good.

At districts, Chalmers placed third overall in the personal finance category.All of the students that competed did well in part thanks to Ryan McSherry, a junior and the club’s vice president of competition. Her role is to prepare club members for the district, state and national events through after school workshops. There, students work on their role play skills and study for the written exams.

McSherry placed first overall in the food marketing category. Her role play involved deciding whether or not a yogurt company should highlight a new formula with less sugar, but was more expensive.

“I said it would be better to a nationwide campaign about it,” said McSherry. “That would open up a new target market of people who are looking for healthier choices.”

In addition to teaching business skills, McSherry said the club has had an impact on her life overall.

“It teaches real world skills, how to present and talk in front of people,” she said. “When I was a freshman I was nervous to talk to my teachers one-on-one, but this has helped me.”

Following the state’s DECA competition, the national conference will be held in Anaheim, California from April 21-24.