19 GCISD DECA Students Are Named State Champions
Posted on 03/25/2023
More than 80 GCISD students from Colleyville Heritage and Grapevine high schools advanced to compete at the state DECA competition and 19 returned as first place champions, a particularly difficult feat since the Texas chapter is the largest DECA association in the world with more than 16,000 members. DECA is a national student organization that prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management.

As first place state winners, these students now advance to compete at DECA’s international conference to be held April 22-25 in Orlando, Fla., where they not only have an opportunity to win awards, but also scholarships. They will be competing against other first place champions from across the U.S. and participating countries, which last year included Spain and Canada.

“There is a wide range of event topics that pertain to DECA, but I think that it’s more than the actual competition,” said GHS senior Nithya Budda, who with teammate Ryan Halliburton, also a senior, won first place in Finance Operations Research. “When we go to these conferences, we have so many people that have different interests and it also gives us the opportunity to apply what we learn in the classroom in a more real-world aspect.”

For the competition, students have to submit a research paper, but it requires more than sitting in front of a computer and writing an essay.

“We interviewed consumers of different banks and the technology industry to see how we can implement personalization measures,” she explained.

Her project encompassed target market descriptions, data collection practices for business decision making, metrics and more.

In the Business Growth Plan state championship project, GHS freshman Madison Burkhart had to compete against other students who already had opened up their own businesses.

“You’re not really supposed to explain your business,” said this jewelry entrepreneur. “It’s about how you are going to expand your established business, which already has a full-fledged bank account, social media and tax ID registered with the state.

“In my presentation I included how I can grow my social media and make it more aesthetically pleasing and also used terminology like marginal revenue that involves how I want to grow my business as well as addressed risks, and other business growth opportunities.”

DECA is an after-school club that is part of GCISD’s Career and Technical Education program, offered at CHHS and GHS. The club, which has won numerous awards, also offers volunteer opportunities, community involvement and more.

Congratulations to all of the GCISD DECA State Champions:
Simran Dhanani, Ignite Emerging Leader Development
Ben Ding, Ignite Emerging Leader Development
Kayli Hutsell, Restaurant and Food Service Management Series

Nithya Budda & Ryan Halliburton, Finance Operations Research
Madison Burkhart, Business Growth Plan
Lilli Cunningham & Quinlan Voss, Buying & Merchandising Team Decision Making
Sarah Grimes, Ignite Emerging Leader Development
Diego Gutierrez, Business Finance Individual Series
Zach Keller & Krish Bhayani, Entrepreneurship Team Decision Making
Grant Kline, Apparel & Accessories Individual Series
Kathleen Manyloun, Business Services Individual Series
Lauryn Peterson & Brooke Gray, School-Based Enterprise
Patrick Shukis & Eli Pollock, Hospitality Services Team Decision Making Finley Walters, Food Marketing Individual Series

A More In-Depth Look at the Competition 

GCISD Students Compete in the 2023 DECA State Competition

Story Written by Emma Hoang

On March 10, more than 5,000 business-minded high school students, advisors, professionals and alumni from all over Texas gathered at the DECA State Development Conference for the 2023 DECA State Competition. Among those competitors were Colleyville Heritage High School and Grapevine High School students who advanced from the district competition just two months before.

In these DECA events, students are to compete in one or more categories of their choosing and perform to a judge. Many of these students put in the work prior to these competitions in order to ensure that they give their best performance by studying vocabulary and taking practice tests. Some students even go above and beyond to practice released prompts and roleplays to mimic the time constraints during the actual competition and to polish their speaking skills.

By the time the students sit before the judge, it usually takes more than just fulfilling the given rubric to advance to the next competition. They must pay close attention to their tone and clarity, quickly think and effectively communicate when asked specific questions and incorporate the entire scope of their given prompt. Some students even possess background knowledge in their competition field, such as a student working in fast food competing in a food service event. DECA gives students the opportunity to form and refine these skills to benefit them in their careers in the future.

“DECA has helped me improve my public speaking and critical thinking skills,” said Benjamin Ding, a CHHS junior who competed in Travel and Tourism Team Decision Making. “DECA reflects my career path as I plan on going into management in the travel industry. Participating in team efforts and having experience in a travel tourism event will support my future career.”

“I’ll be better prepared for interviews with future employers, use quicker and more detailed problem solving, and have the confidence to share my ideas in a business setting.” said Kayli Hutsell, a CHHS junior who competed in Restaurant and Food Service Management Individual Series.

Even though some students’ involvement in DECA does not solely reflect their career paths, many have emphasized that the skills they have learned were definitely important in building a successful career.

“DECA has created a lot of good high school memories that I’ll cherish in the future.” Hutsell declared.