Deca Helps Students Learn Business Skills

Student Sean Ford pitches a Safeway training plan to stand-in judges Herb Sherman, a volunteer, at left, and DECA teacher Joe Parone. The DECA marketing organization, along with every other career education program in the state, is at risk because of the budget crisis.

Student Sean Ford pitches a Safeway training plan to stand-in judges Herb Sherman, a volunteer, at left, and DECA teacher Joe Parone. The DECA marketing organization, along with every other career education program in the state, is at risk because of the budget crisis. |

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Suzanne Jacobson/Roundup

Sean Ford completes a poster outlining the project he and fellow classmate James Potvin completed. The duo participated in Safeway worker training, surveyed workers, and suggested ways to improve the system in a mock sales pitch.

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Suzanne Jacobson/Roundup

Andrew Staszak (left) and Ana Carranza rehearse a presentation outlining the class’ scheme to sell ads for Payson High School’s course description guide. The students competed Monday in the Valley at a DECA marketing association competition. Teacher Joe Parone sits to the right.

Payson High School students Sean Ford and James Potvin dressed in suits for the big day — the polish providing a bonus in the eyes of the cruel, cruel judges.

PHS marketing teacher Joe Parone and resident volunteer Herb Sherman gauged the students’ presentation of a training program they pseudo-marketed to Safeway.

Ford and Potvin participate in an organization of marketing students called DECA, one organization in a wide network of similar career-focused student clubs. The state’s budget crisis could wipe out the entire network of such groups.

PHS Principal Roy Sandoval said the threat is “deadly serious.”

Meanwhile, back in Parone’s class, Ford and Potvin tried to sway the judges. Their project required the pair to actually participate in Safeway’s training program and survey employees for their opinions before suggesting improvements.

Then, they developed an oral presentation complete with a poster to complement a roughly 10-page paper.

Friday’s presentation served as a rehearsal for Monday’s DECA competition in the Valley.

During this first full year of the club, students have already impacted the school in a big way. By selling ads for the annual course description guide, they earned enough money to pay for the $1,000 guide and cleared an extra $1,000 for the club. The kids also conducted a successful can drive shortly after Halloween.

Parone has linked the club to his marketing class, and about 105 kids have enrolled.

DECA is part of the Payson school district’s rigorous Career Technical Education (CTE) Program where students receive hands-on training to help them succeed in life.

But the state’s budget crisis has imperiled the programs, even though the $36.9 million grant that funds these programs statewide is nearly 70 percent federally funded.

“If (the state) cut the CTE funding, it would devastate the educational opportunities for our kids in Payson,” said Sandoval. The move would bankrupt the state academically and intellectually, he added. “People might as well move to another state.”

The governor is looking to save nearly $11.5 million by virtually eliminating the grant that pays for vocational educational programs statewide, but she would likely lose an additional $25.9 million in federal funding. A waiver is possible, but has only been granted once.

The funding cut would eliminate popular programs like agricultural FFA, the Future Business Leaders Association, and Health Occupations Student Association.

Payson’s vocational programs are not completely paid for with state and federal funds, but highly subsidized.

The school board also recently agreed to invest more than $1 million in a new vocational building, which would essentially become a moot project. Sandoval said the programs would be difficult to restart once stopped.

Meanwhile, students inside Parone’s classroom continued their presentations. The service industry is one the most quickly growing segments of the economy, and his kids are learning how to conduct research, and market products — and themselves — to businesspeople.

Students have attended leadership training, learn the importance of eye contact, and of snazzy dress.

As seen with the net-loss-turned-net-income course description guide, marketing and sales skills carry importance during boon and bust times alike.

And if the kids in Parone’s class learn nothing else, they’ll surely take away that a nice suit, good eye contact and thorough preparation can help a person along in life.

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