36 DECA students qualify for International Conference


Emily Smoller

DECA state conference winners pose for a picture with their trophies.

BP DECA once again proved they are the future of business.

On Wednesday, Feb. 22, BP DECA students got on a bus and traveled the four hours to the Hershey Lodge where they stayed while competing at the annual State Conference.

This year was the most competitive States Conference ever with more than 2,600 students in attendance. Some events even had more than 60 competitors!

“This year’s conference was unlike any other,” said District 3 Representative Lexi Dorfner. “Being the largest conference in Pa DECA history with over 2,600 competitors, the energy was game-changing.”

102 Bethel Park students attended the conference this year, which is impressive compared to the 57 students that attended last year. 47 of those students were seniors.

DECA students are all smiles at the Hershey Chocolate Factory. (Emily Smoller)

Out of the 102 students, 36 BP students were finalists!

“I am extremely proud of all of our BP DECA members that participated at the State Conference, said BP DECA advisor Mrs. Emily Smoller. “This is the hardest working and most prepared, group that I have taken to the Start Conference! The level of papers and presentations they are writing and delivering is extremely impressive and will set them apart from their peers in college and the workforce.”

The conference kicked off with an opening ceremony Wednesday night. During the ceremony, all state officers and district representatives were announced.

On Thursday, all students made their way to compete. All students either competed in a role-play event or a written project event.

Thursday night, a mini-awards ceremony was held to award exceptional students in role-plays or testing.

Senior Marquise Ross won a mini award for top three test scores in the Business Service Marketing event. Sophomore Mallory Kuntz won for top three role play B for the Principles of Hospitality & Tourism event. And lastly, sophomore Ashley Perich won for top three role play B for the Hotel & Lodging Management event.

Friday morning, an award ceremony was held where all the finalists from each event were called.

The fourth-place finalists were the team of Josh Clunan and Nolan Plassio in the Community Awareness event, the team of Nick Johnson and Nina Romary in the Integrated Marketing Campaign – Service event, Mira Weston in the Financial Operations Research event, and Marquise Ross placed fourth in the male modeling competition.

The finalists who placed third are the team of Emma Bucheli and Marena Chernicky in the Career Development Project event, the team of Mitchell Gram, Jack Kohnfelder, and Andrew Kvak in the Sports & Entertainment Operations Research event, the team of Abigail Goldenberg and Addison Hill in the Community Giving Project event, and the team of Cecilia Romary and Danielle Whitaker in the Innovation Plan event.

The second-place winners were the team of Emily Ashton, Leah Hartman, and Martina Tatalias in the Business Solutions Project event, the Business Service Operations Research team of Emma Bianco, Audrey Campbell, and Nina Depasquale. Also, the team of Tommy Bova, Tim Jones, and Trey Tygart in the Innovation Plan event, the team of Meghan Krapp and Merris Gable in the Community Awareness event, Jack Hartman, Mason Miller, and Owen Sivetz in the Financial Literacy Promotion Project event, and lastly Clancy Orie and Brady Remington in the Franchise Business Plan event.

And the first-place winners were the Hospitality & Tourism Operations Research team, Mia Coccagno, Lexie Beck, and Natalie Engel, and Dom Depasquale, Jackson Molli, and Grace Demira in the Sales Project event.

These students will be able to attend and compete in the International Conference held in Orlando, Fl. this year in April.

Along with those Bethel Park wins, junior Arabella Cicero was installed as the 2023-2024 Pa DECA District 3 Representative, and junior Lexi Dorfner was installed as a 2023-2024 PA DECA State Vice President.

“Being on stage and seeing all of the work the state officer team and myself put in be recognized was such a delighting experience,” said Dorfner. “Plus, it’s Hershey. Who doesn’t love the sweetest place in the world? I can confidently say, even through all of the running around and hecticness of my schedule, this was truly the best state conference I have ever been to. I’m looking forward to doing it all again next year as state vice president!”

“It’s bittersweet looking back on all the memories I’ve had at states,” said senior Merris Gable. “I am happy that for my senior year, we have a big group going to Nationals.”

Good luck at Nationals, BP DECA!