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Jamestown students attend international DECA conference

One student was elected to a national office.

DECA students.jpg
From left, Jamestown High School students Regan Keller, Ross Motter and Cammie Veldkamp attended the International Career Development Conference in Atlanta last month.
Kathy Steiner / The Jamestown Sun
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JAMESTOWN — Three Jamestown High School students attended the International Career Development Conference for DECA, and one was elected to a national office.

Ross Motter, Regan Keller and Cammie Veldkamp attended the April 23-26 event in Atlanta, Georgia. Motter was elected National Central Region vice president, which represents 13 states, for the next year.

Motter said in his new role, he will be traveling a lot and doing workshops, growing his leadership skills while helping others grow theirs as well. Motter will be one of two high school juniors serving in a national office next year, which is unusual, said Janna Kohler, JHS business and marketing teacher and DECA adviser. Students are typically elected to a national office as a senior in high school, serving in the office during their freshman year of college.

DECA helps prepare students for the business world.

“You really get to put your skills to the test with DECA,” Motter said. “So DECA prepares emerging leaders in marketing, management, hospitality and tourism and finance. So you really get to go test your skills and really compete against everybody from the nation and even the world.”

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Kohler said 17,500 people attended the International Career Development Conference this year.

Students can compete through role playing in situations, prepared/written projects or online competitions, Kohler said. In role playing, they are presented with a “problem” in a workplace related to the category they are competing in, she said. They have 10 minutes to prepare what they would do and then 10 minutes to present it to a judge, meeting key performance indicators. The written tests that students take have 100 questions in their respective areas and are timed. Prepared/written presentations may be prepared ahead of time, taking months to complete.

The students adhere to a strict dress code at the event, wearing their DECA blazers and certain other attire.

“It’s just a big part of what DECA is, is that professional dress,” Kohler said.

At the International Career Development Conference in Atlanta, Keller and Veldkamp scored in the top 30 percent in their respective events. Kohler said those were “very good” results, noting Keller and Veldkamp, who are sophomores at JHS, were competing against about 180 students in their respective categories.

The students qualified for ICDC through DECA events held in North Dakota.

Keller competed in hospitality and tourism in restaurant service and food management. She is also a state vice president. Motter competed in hospitality and tourism in hotel and lodging management as well as running for a national office.

Veldkamp was fourth overall in her event in the state and was able to attend ICDC after two other individuals in the top placings decided not to attend. She competed in the entrepreneurship individual series where students do two role plays with a business situation and take a 100-question test. Veldkamp had limited time to prepare since she was fourth overall in the state and was not initially expected to attend ICDC.

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“I honestly think it was more valuable for me to be able to lose at ICDC because when you’re in North Dakota and you’re winning on that stage or whatever you don’t have anything to shoot for, but when you get to ICDC and you don’t place or anything like that it gives you motivation to work for it more,” she said.

Kohler said the opportunities provided at ICDC can last long after the event is over.

“I think the networking piece is a big part,” she said. “They get to meet students from all over the world. They get to meet business professionals from all over the world.”

She said the role plays are also a key part of the experience.

Keller and Veldkamp say their experiences at ICDC will help them both in their next year at DECA, and Kohler said the students will know what to expect at the next ICDC event, which is in Orlando in 2023.

“I definitely did take away a lot of things that I can implement next year (in) DECA and just improving on what I’ve done this year,” Keller said.

The JHS DECA chapter has 11 students.

Kathy Steiner has been the editor of The Jamestown Sun since 1995. She graduated from Valley City State College with a bachelor's degree in English and studied mass communications at North Dakota State University, Fargo. She reports on business, government and community topics in the Jamestown area. Reach her at 701-952-8449 or ksteiner@jamestownsun.com.
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