New DECA chapter emerges

Tammy Su

Silicon Valley DECA forms identity separate from state organization

On Sept. 20, a Leadership Development Conference was held at MVHS. However this conference was not organized not by its traditional host, Calif. DECA, but instead by club members from four local high schools.

Smaller parts of larger groups often get lost in the big picture. This year, though, MVHS DECA is pushing through and creating a distinct name for itself, inside and outside of the main DECA community.

Like all major organizations, DECA is organized by a series of sections: local (individual schools), regional (sections within a state), and finally, state chapters. MVHS' DECA chapter belongs to the Northern District, which in turn belongs to the overall California DECA chapter.

Levels of leadership aside, MVHS DECA, and the encompassing Silicon Valley DECA are now creating clearer identities for themselves.

Unlike MVHS DECA, SV DECA is neither a local chapter nor a state district. It is instead an association of chapters from four high schools, MVHS, Fremont, Harker, and Lynbrook, created to oversee collaborative events.

The concept of an independent conference was formed when last year's SV DECA officers were frustrated with the state-organized conference, which they felt was inefficient. By organizing an event with fewer but more meaningful activities, and by planning for it to be completed in a day (thus eliminating hotel costs), the team ultimately created a conference that, compared to the regular LDC, could be completed in half the time and cost about $100 less for members.

DECA state officers that attended, CA State President senior Julia Joung (Castro Valley) and CA Northern District President senior Mark Larik (Livermore), were both impressed.

"We thought [SV LDC] was run well – everything went very smoothly," Larik said. "My favorite part of the conference was seeing all the students speak. I couldn't believe that one chapter had so many great speakers."

Despite the encouraging words, SV DECA President junior Diane Keng (MVHS) admits that there have historically been tensions between leadership levels within the organization. This year specifically, she acknowledges that the state LDC might have felt the loss of 123 DECA members who attended SV LDC instead. But overall, MVHS DECA President senior Jade Lipscomb maintains that the relationship hasn't experienced significant problems.

"On paper, [State DECA] is obligated to help us, and we're obligated to support them," Lipscomb said. "I mean, we've had our differences, but that's normal. I don't think they've ever been life shattering."

Keng and Lipscomb do mention, however, activities that the local DECA chapters, especially MVHS DECA, participate in actively which are not introduced by the state. These events have helped the local chapters in creating a name known by the local community. For example, chapters were present at the Cupertino Fall Festival. Ultimately, the leadership they showed at the event impressed the event host, who has expressed wishes in potentially working with the chapter on future events.

On a larger scale, both MVHS DECA and SV DECA are new members of the Cupertino Chamber of Commerce. With this membership, the chapters established a presence alongside established businesses.

"We are really breaking the barrier this year," Keng said. "High school business has always been separate from the actual business community. This year, by entering the Cupertino rotary, we have created numerous contacts that we are able to use as speakers for our study sessions, providing our members with even more experience."

Within the DECA community, the MVHS chapter has a distinct name as well. Explaining that MVHS DECA took a majority of the trophies at last year's district and state conferences, Larik confirms that it does have the identity of being "a strong competitive events chapter."

For sophomore Japheth Wong, MVDECA's webmaster, competition is a big part of his dedication to the organization.

"Everyone tries to do better than the years before," Wong said. "The grand prize is beat your [chapter] president [in rankings]."

 And at the core of it, that's how DECA is able to create this identity – with the passion of each individual member.

"In DECA, all of us kind of push the envelope," Lipscomb said. "And then, you always have some outliers, that push clear across the room, and end up doing spectacular things for the club."