Forsyth County – A DECA Powerhouse

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A few months ago I read a tweet posted by an Atlanta-based sports and business marketing expert that asked, “When can entrepreneurship be a part of our kids’ education curriculum?” Well, I have great news! There is a high school organization dedicated to preparing emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management. DECA, originally an acronym for Distributive Education Clubs of America, is an association of marketing students that provides teachers and members with educational and leadership development activities to complement the education classroom instructional program.

I have the good fortune of having been elected President of Georgia DECA in February at our state conference. While representing nearly 12,000 members statewide, I don’t believe I’m out of line in recognizing the DECA chapters within Forsyth County for their outstanding contribution to the organization’s increasing importance within the state’s education system. The high schools of Forsyth County have the awesome distinction of being among the largest DECA chapters in terms of number of members. In fact, four of the five largest chapters in the world come from our county, with South Forsyth High School being the largest, Lambert second, North Forsyth fourth, and West Forsyth fifth. Forsyth Central restarted their chapter during the 2011-2012 school year and is already seeing substantial growth.

When you consider that DECA has more than 185,000 members from 5,000 high school chapters in all 50 states and nine countries, the DECA chapters from our county’s high schools have a powerful, far-reaching impact in high school marketing education.

So why is our county such a powerhouse in the global DECA community? I believe the answer can be found at the front of one of the classroom in South Forsyth.  Debra Moore has taught marketing classes and served as a DECA advisor at South Forsyth for over 15 years. When she started with the school’s DECA chapter, just 12 students in a poor location within the school were involved. Now, the chapter boasts over 800 members and there is a separate building for the marketing curriculum. As West Forsyth and Lambert opened in recent years, colleagues of Ms. Moore who were also DECA advisors moved to those schools, bringing with them a passion for marketing education and DECA involvement. North Forsyth’s competitive spirit did not allow them to be left behind. The extraordinary results by all of the county’s DECA chapters at the recent state and international competitions are a testimonial to the commitment to excellence that goes well beyond impressive membership numbers. Without Ms. Moore’s effort over a decade ago, I don’t believe we would be where we are today – at the top of the premier organization preparing emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for a prosperous future.

Why is DECA involvement – including marketing curriculum, competitive events, and leadership training – important to high school students? For one, it creates much better rounded students, greatly enhancing their resumes. Personally, I have significantly improved my interpersonal communication skills, public speaking comfort level, business writing skills, and leadership competencies. To colleges, DECA students are much more attractive which increases their chances of getting into the colleges of choice and garnering scholarship money. In just the last six years, South Forsyth DECA students have been awarded over $500,000 in scholarship money.

Through DECA participation, we are becoming academically prepared, community oriented, professionally responsible, and experienced leaders. If you are a high school student or entering high school in the next few years, you would be wise to explore DECA as complement to your academic program. The skills you will develop are invaluable to whatever career path you choose. Of course, getting the maximum out of DECA is like any other worthy endeavor – what you get out of it directly correlates to what you put in. I challenge you to join your school’s DECA chapter, actively participate in competitions and leadership positions, and keep Forsyth County high schools on top of the world.Lauren Calvert_Georgia DECA President

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