DECA went down to Georgia


Emily Smoller

BP DECA students pose outside the Mercedes-Benz stadium in Atlanta, Ga.

On Friday, April 22, 34 BP DECA students left the chilly weather of Pittsburgh and spent the week in the warm weather in Atlanta, Ga.

There, DECA students competed in the 2022 International Career Development Conference (ICDC). 

ICDC is an international conference where DECA students from all around the world compete in marketing competitions and attend workshops to improve their leadership skills and public speaking abilities. 

This was the first ICDC that took place in person in three years due to COVID. Fifteen countries and over 17,000 members participated in the conference.

“I am extremely impressed with this group’s preparation leading up to the conference and proud of their performance at the competition!” said BP DECA advisor Emily Smoller. “BP DECA members have really taken their projects to the next level this year!”

Before heading to ICDC, the BP DECA team first had to compete against all Pennsylvania DECA members at the States Conference in February in Hershey, Pa.

57 students from Bethel Park participated in the States conference this year.

The top four groups from each event advanced to compete at Nationals.

Some students who did not place at States were able to join the trip by attending a Leadership Academy.

The seniors that attended the conference in Atlanta were Anastacia Antonucci, Aletris Eckert, Sadie Fedor, Tori Krapp, Chloe McDaniel, and Caitlyn Schultz.

The juniors at the conference were Liz Alacce, Emily Ashton, Gavin Barzan, Lexie Beck, Mia Coccagno, Grace Demira, Dom DePasquale, Ethan Drahusz, Natalie Engel, Merris Gable, Jack Hartman, Leah Hartman, Addison Hill, Jack Kohnfelder, Meghan Krapp, Andrew Kvak, Mason Miller, Jackson Molli, Nick Perdziola, Marquise Ross, Forrest Shaw, Owen Sivetz, Martina Tatalias, Mira Weston, and Jake Zeminski.

The sophomores attending the conference were Arabella Cicero, Lexi Dorfner, and Nina Romary.

The chaperones attending the trip were Emily Smoller, Joshua Lape, Matt Short, and Maria Christenson.

“DECA has provided me with numerous opportunities in which I am grateful for,” said BP DECA member Tori Krapp. “I am sad to be leaving DECA and all the friends that I have made along the way. ICDC was a really cool experience and I’m fortunate to have gone on the trip for the first time my senior year. I couldn’t go before because of COVID.”

On their first day in Atlanta, all of the members participating in ICDC went to Six Flags and got to spend the day there. 

That night, the Grand Opening Ceremony was held at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. All of the National Officer team members were introduced and all of the state chapters participating in the conference were recognized. 

On Sunday, all students whose papers did not require a test presented their presentations in front of a judge. All papers with tests, took their tests and all of the Leadership Academy students had their first class. 

That night was DECA Night at the Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coca-Cola. Only DECA students and advisors were allowed in.

Monday, students who wrote papers that included a test presented their presentations and the Leadership Academy students had their second day of classes.

At night, PA DECA enjoyed a Chick Fil A’ dinner and participated in a dance at the College Football Hall of Fame. Students were able to tour the building and learn more about the sport and its players.

On Tuesday, the Mini Awards were held at Mercedes-Benz Stadium to announce the top 20 finalists in all of the events. 

The finalists from Bethel Park were Addison Hill in the Community Awareness event, Sadie Fedor and Anastacia Antonucci in the Sales Project event, Mia Coccagno, Natalie Engel, and Lexie Beck in the Hospitality and Tourism Operations Research event, and Mason Miller and Owen Sivetz in the Financial Literacy Promotion Plan event.

All finalists presented for a second time in the afternoon.

That night, the Grand Awards Ceremony was held at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium to announce the top ten competitors in each event and award the top three.

Addison Hill placed seventh in her event and Sadie Fedor and Anastacia Antonucci placed sixth in their event.

“This is BP DECA’s best performance in the 15 years I’ve been at BPHS,” said Smoller. “I know those that did not make the finals definitely had to be close, as well. Students attending the leadership academies also got a lot out of the conference, networking with their peers from all of the US!”

On Wednesday, BP DECA headed to the airport to come back home to Pittsburgh after their eventful week in Atlanta.

“I liked meeting other people from different states and trading pins with them,” said BP DECA member Merris Gable. “It was a really fun experience and I can’t wait to do it again next year!”

“It was an incredible week to meet people from all over the world,” said BP DECA member Emily Ashton. “ICDC was an unforgettable experience.”

“Our BP DECA crew is not just a high-performing group but also a respectful and fun group of students with which to travel!” said Smoller. “Congratulations to all of our seniors and best of luck next year! I am excited to see what is in store for our returning members next year on their journey to ICDC in Orlando!”