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DECA Students Take First in World Championships

Members of the Skyline High School DECA team, which placed first in the world competition in 2022

Students from Skyline High School, Issaquah High School and Liberty High School traveled recently to the International Career Development Conference in Atlanta, and brought home a bevy of new trophies and accolades. Congratulations to all of our DECA students and staff members on these amazing, hard-earned results! 

For the second year running, Skyline students took first place overall in the world competition.  

“Skyline DECA’s success is rooted in tradition,” adviser BJ Sherman said. “Our students gravitate to academic competition, which when injected into education, creates magic. I am in awe of this team, who once again raised the bar for next year’s students to aspire to exceed. I was stunned to see Skyline win both Business Plan events, which I consider the flagship events of the competition.” 

This year, Skyline is also the world’s ninth-largest DECA chapter. As a not-for-profit organization, DECA prepares high school and college students to be leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management. Chapters exist in all 50 United States, Canada, Guam, Puerto Rico and Germany. 

“Being a member of Skyline DECA has completely changed my life. Through the three years that I have been in the program, I have grown significantly as a student and as a person,” said junior Elise Parrott, who brought home first place in the International Business Plan category. Parrott said she spent countless hours working on her project, a viable business plan for electric vehicle lithium ion battery recycling. 

A trio of Skyline students, Arnav Murudkar, Zach Grey and Nathan Evans, also won first place at the international level, in Independent Business Plan. 

Other Skyline students who placed in the top 10 at the international competition include: Tyler Arnold and Samantha Tarlowe; Jacob Morgan; Charlie Gall; Trisha Bhatawdekar and Ishita Pathania; Siya Mistry; Lenci Ni and Aishwarya Rajaram; Park and Grace Zheng; Tanvi Shah; Aditya Shivakumar . 

Another of Skyline DECA’s advisors, Stan Debiec, credited the team’s success to the drive and determination of the students. “It is the students who do the heavy lifting. They each have an internal desire to compete, succeed, and win. The program fosters, supports, and breeds successful business minded young adults,” Debiec said.  

Asked how he felt when the awards were announced, Debiec said: “Proud! I was so incredibly proud of all our students for reaching ICDC to begin with. Whenever a Skyline student was announced, I felt a sense of pride.” 

In their own words, here’s what some of the student competitors shared about this experience: 

Arnav Murudkar: "Going to ICDC was a great experience. My teammates and I were able to compete successfully while also spending time with other chapter members touring Atlanta. Both of our presentations went well and we felt confident that our presentation score would be strong in conjugation with our written entry score. We were extremely happy when we advanced past the preliminary competition and later when we were called to the stage as a top 10 finalist team. I felt satisfied with a top 10 position considering the level of competition at ICDC, so I was thrilled when our names were called for first place. It did not immediately sink in that we had won, but placing first was extremely gratifying and made all the hours my teammates and I put into our competition worth it. The best part of my ICDC experience was seeing other Skyline students succeed in their events. We had another Skyline first and third place right after our event was called, and celebrating each other’s successes showed the strong sense of community our chapter has.  I am extremely grateful for my teachers who pushed me to be the best version of myself and guided our team to through the competition since September. Overall, I am extremely thankful to be a part of Skyline DECA, I have learned a lot through the program and look forward to competing again next year. It is great to know that our team has built on the legacy of Skyline DECA that has been built by our advisors over the years." 

Zach Gray:  "ICDC was an amazing experience and a great way to end my senior year. Outside of the DECA competition, we enjoyed our time in Atlanta and were able to get the full field trip experience. It was super fun to visit the college football hall of fame, the Coca-Cola museum, and six-flags. Our actual work for competing started with our paper which we had worked extremely hard on for several months. After our preliminary competition, we received positive feedback from our judge and felt confident with our position. Nevertheless, we were overjoyed when we found out we made it past the preliminaries. After another successful presentation in the finals, we were thrilled to be called as top 10 at the final awards ceremony. At this point, we felt like all the hard work had paid off. When our names got called for first place, I didn’t even process what had happened. It was so exhilarating and made us feel like everything we did up until that point was worth it. The excitement continued as we were able to see our friends up on stage as well. It made me proud to be a Skyline Spartan and appreciative of our advisors and chaperones that helped us get to that point and helped the trip happen. I will value the social and presenting skills that I learned from DECA for the rest of my life.  It was my first year competing at DECA and left me with my only regret being not joining DECA earlier. Lastly, I am so thankful for my teammates Arnav and Nathan, who could not have been better."   

Elise Parrott:  "Being a member of Skyline DECA has completely changed my life. Through the three years that I have been in the program, I have grown significantly as a student and as a person. I have gained many beneficial skills that will allow me to be successful in college and in my future career. From September through January, I spent countless hours working diligently on my international business plan event for DECA. During this time, I took my idea of electric vehicle lithium-ion battery recycling and turned it into a viable business plan. From crafting the target market for my company, Envision-Li, to calculating detailed financial statements for the business, I was able to develop my entrepreneurial mindset. After preparing for my presentation, I have become more confident in public speaking, which will be undeniably valuable for my future. My experience competing at ICDC is a true demonstration of the power of hard work and passion. This win would not have been possible without the tremendous support and encouragement of my Skyline DECA advisors and teachers. It was a surreal experience to compete at ICDC, and I am incredibly grateful to be part of such an amazing organization." 

Issaquah High School

Issaquah High School DECA students Eileen Kim, Sean Patterson and Hope Tran took first place in the School Based Enterprise – Food Service Operations event (also known as the DECA store) “We believe this is the first ever first place finish for an Issaquah (HS) DECA team!” interim adviser Cheryl Furey said. 

Other IHS results from the ICDC included: 

  • Victoria Poitras, third in Startup Business Plan. 

  • Kali Kleven and Vibha Shivarajan, top 10 in Marketing Management Team Decision Making.  

  • Nitya Shankar, top 20 in Principles of Marketing. 

  • Sophia Wang and Kayley Woo, top 20 in International Business Plan. 

  • Josh Delgadillo, top test score in Entrepreneurship. 

  • Grace Tran was chosen by WADECA to design the T-shirt given to all participants from Washington, which is an honor, Furey said. 


Liberty High School

Students from Liberty High School’s DECA team also traveled to the ICDC, where the long hours of preparation and practice paid off for the 14 Patriot finalists, advisor Chris Gapinski said.  

“Members of the program were able to create long-lasting memories and professional business experiences during their time there,” Gapinski continued. “It was a successful year for the chapter and Liberty DECA could not be more proud of all our members due to their dedication and hard work they put in throughout the year.” 

The highlight of competition for Liberty was senior Jacob Rubenstein, who placed first in the world for his event, Sports and Entertainment Marketing.