Students and staff at Stevenson High School are on cloud nine this week after welcoming home members of their DECA club from the recent state competition in Bellevue. Though only in its first year, the Stevenson DECA chapter returned with several awards and one student who will advance to the international competition.

DECA is an international student organization that prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management in high schools and colleges around the globe.

“Regardless of whether or not students intend to pursue any of these fields after high school, DECA helps students become college and career ready for whatever they pursue post-secondary,” says teacher Katie Mantel.

Mantel is the new Business & Marketing teacher behind the club who joined the Stevenson-Carson School District in August. She previously was a Business teacher in Alabama for eight years before her husband’s work brought them to the Gorge. SCSD Superintendent Karen Douglass has been impressed with the teacher’s ability to get such enthusiastic, widespread student participation in the club in such a short time. Stevenson High School has only 303 students, and 53 of them are DECA club members.

“Our new Business teacher is amazing,” says Douglass. “We are thrilled to have her as a part of our district.”

33 of the club members traveled to the area competition in Kelso in January.

Mantel recruited math and science paraeducator and parent, Lydia Griffiths, to be a co-advisor and the pair have worked hard to bring students up to speed for the competitions. The Stevenson DECA chapter sent 33 students to the area competition in Kelso in January, and the students focused on Individual and Team Role Plays. In the Role Plays, students take a 100-question exam in their subject area, and then they are given a scenario to which they have a short amount of time to create a response that they present to the judges. Eight of the SCSD students advanced from the area competition to state.

“I really looked at the area competition in Kelso as a learning opportunity and was thrilled to be able to take eight students to State,” says Mantel. “I was just certain that our first year at State would strictly be a learning experience and really didn’t imagine that a brand-new chapter could produce any State winners.”

The team at the state competition.

Griffiths, Mantel and the students were ecstatic when their fledgling chapter received several state awards. Katie Porter placed 6th overall out of nearly 120 students in Principles of Marketing and advances to the international competition April 20-25 in Atlanta, Georgia. In addition to the internationals finalist, David and James McAndie placed for Travel & Tourism Team Decision Making, and the chapter won a $400 scholarship toward their travel expenses.

Also at the state competition was a local Bellevue company that created an app for students and advisors to use at the conference. They sponsored a student video contest, and the SCSD students won both 2nd and 3rd place awards totaling $300.

Mantel says, “I was so proud of them for spending their time at State making new friends and making cool videos of the experiences of, not only our chapter, but of all the students they met!”

Mantel looks forward to the international competition, and is also making plans for next year. She says, “For next year, I am hoping to have students compete in written events. There are a lot of different written events for them to choose from, between 5-30 page papers, ranging anywhere from planning and implementing a chapter community service event or fundraiser to writing an innovative product or business plan.”