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After Successful Annual Fashion Show, TMHS DECA Prepares For District Competitions

Dec 05, 2019 07:04AM ● By Casey Stevenson

With 3,500 chapters and about 215,000 members, the Distributive Education Clubs of America, more commonly known as DECA, is popular in high schools around the globe.

Tewksbury Memorial High School has used this program to help shape future businessmen and women, and has provided wonderful opportunities and experiences for those involved. At TMHS, the program is focused on growing entrepreneurial skills and using those skills to give back to their community.

Senior Colby Brown, co-president of the TMHS chapter, defined DECA as “a business club in which students participate in community service events, various fundraisers and compete in business-related conferences.”

Two of the events the DECA program is best known for in the TMHS community are the Meghan McCarthy fashion show, and the district and state competitions. 

The Meghan McCarthy Fashion Show has been running for 10 years, in memory of Meghan McCarthy, a remarkable TMHS student who tragically passed away in January 2010 when she lost her battle with an inoperable brain tumor.

 For the past decade, DECA members have been donating all proceeds collected from the fashion show to the Meghan McCarthy Research Fund at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

Brown, chapter co-president Rebecca DeFrancesco, and fellow senior Victoria Schille ran this year's event, which took place Nov. 20. Brown and Schille shared the goals they had for the show, which was being able to “remember Meghan” and to “bring the focus of the show back onto Meghan,'' as well as “remember the importance of fundraising”. Both believe the show was quite successful.

“We had set out to raise $13,000 from the Meghan McCarthy Fashion Show and actually shattered this, raising close to $17,000," said Brown. "Our models alone were able to raise over $11,000, the most ever raised by individuals in the show alone. On show night, it was a really amazing experience. The auditorium was packed, and everyone there was excited to celebrate Meghan.” 

Brown also shared what the group loved best about this year’s show.

“Our favorite part ... was definitely the survivor walk portion of our show. In this section, our models had the opportunity to walk with a family member or friend who had beaten or is still fighting cancer," he said. "During this section, every audience member had a pink glow stick, so the entire auditorium was filled with pink lights. This whole part of the show captured the entire essence of the show. And that was that Meghan has given us the strength we need to fight, and we will never give up just like she never did."

TMHS DECA members are now hard at work preparing for their upcoming district conferences. Held at UMass Lowell, this competition gives students the chance to show off what entrepreneurial skills they have learned or improved upon, and put them to the test among other DECA chapters. 

According to Brown and Schille, these conferences are a favorite event among members, even though it requires a large amount of hard work beforehand. Members form teams to compete in a variety of business-related disciplines. They must write papers, ranging in length from 10-20 pages and prepare 12-15 minute presentations, which are then presented in front of judges.

Schille said that, for her, starting the paper is the most challenging part of DECA.

"It is literally writing a 10-20 page paper from scratch with graphics and text and it is so overwhelming to begin," she said. "However, once you start to get something on paper, you start to get into a flow.”

Despite the stress, it’s worth the effort, added Brown.

"The feeling you got after hitting your presentation and connecting with a judge after all of the hard work you invested was an amazing feeling," he said.

The TMHS DECA participants will really have to stay on top of their game to repeat their success of a year ago. Last year, Tewksbury High had two teams qualify at the state competition to compete at the national competition in Orlando, Fla. This included the team of Brown, Defrancesco and Schille, who finished first out of 30 of the best teams from each district in the Innovation Plan category. 

Matt Fronduto and Ryan Bennett were the other team to qualify, placing fifth in the Integrated Marketing Campaign category. 

At nationals, the team of Brown, Defrancesco, and Schille scored in the top three percent of all scores from over 21,000 members there from all around the world.

 As this is their last year with the TMHS chapter, Brown and Schille hope to compete once more at the state and national levels, and, as Brown says, are “excited to see all the hard work pay off and see which of our students will win and advance to the state competition in Boston!” 

As they are seniors, and will be graduating in early June, Schille and Brown were asked to reflect on their time in DECA, what they hoped to accomplish with that group, and impart advice to those considering joining.

Schille said her goal was “to make it back to the international conference”, and her advice to anyone considering joining is to “join! One of the best decisions I have made during my time at TMHS. I can’t even imagine how my high school experience would be without DECA  last year. I love DECA and all of the relationships I have made from it.”

As for Brown, his goals are “ to speak more comfortably in front of people. Through this club already, I have already seen such a growth within myself and my partners in our ability to speak in public. Through this club, I feel like I have been able to improve this valuable skill significantly.”

The hardest part has been “the ability to balance your time in order to stay involved. DECA is all about what you put into it," he said. "For me, I invested a lot of my time into this club, as a saw it as a valuable opportunity to grow as an individual. When you hold a leadership position and are invested in a written project, it can be demanding at times. However, it definitely gets easier as time goes on.” 

His advice for those wanting to join DECA is; “you should definitely join. You do not have to be a business person to excel and learn from this club. This club is unique in the sense that you do so much that there’s something for everybody. It allows you to step out of your comfort zone in order to prepare you for your future.” 

Tewksbury Memorial High School is proud of its DECA members, and all that they have accomplished in the past few years. 

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