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Posted: 04/02/14

Three DECA students advance to nationals

Observer Staff Writer
      Three of Romeo's DECA students will face off against the best in the nation this May.
       Romeo Engineering and Technology Center seniors Danny Bartolotta, Eric Faulman and Kate Forro were the champions in their categories at the DECA State Development Conference held March 14-16.
       They will advance to the International Career Development Conference scheduled for May 2-7 in Atlanta, Ga.
       DECA competitions award medals to students that perform well on tests and role-playing. Students are given scenarios in marketing and business categories and must come up with solutions to present to judges.
       Ronald LeBlanc, marketing instructor at the RETC, said it's great to see how well his students have done, especially since DECA is only seven years old at Romeo.
       "It's satisfying when you see the work the kids put into it, it's nice seeing them get rewarded for it," he said. "They're such good kids."
       This is the third year for Bartolotta and Faulman to compete as a team in the business law and ethics category. Each team is given a scenario and 30 minutes to come up with their solutions. They do this twice to receive their final scores.
       "The hardest part is trying to figure out what you're going to say," Faulman said.
       The duo agreed this year's state competition was tougher than previous years due to the number of students participating. Bartolotta said, though, that they are comfortable going before the judges and speaking.
       "We bounce ideas off of each other," he said.
       Bartolotta and Faulman said they hope to use their experiences with DECA to pursue careers in law and open a law firm in California. They thanked LeBlanc for helping prepare them with practice tests and scenarios.
       Forro took the top spot in the food marketing. In her competition, she is given a scenario and 10 minutes of prep time to come up with her solution or plan.
       "The easiest part for me is talking to the judge, it's a natural thing for me to have a conversation with a person," she said. "The hardest part is the pressure<you only get 10 minutes."
       Forro said she was drawn to food marketing thanks to a background in agriculture and working in a butcher shop.
       The three champs were joined on stage by three other Romeo students who were finalists in their competitions. They are: Maddie Geffert, senior, marketing management; Cole Rapp, sophomore, business services management; and Hayden Townley, junior, quick serve restaurant management.
       "We had a nice, big crowd go with us to states, and it was really nice this year," Bartolotta said. "It's nice to see Romeo DECA advance so much as a whole."
       Forro said she is nervous going to the national level for the first time, especially since she is the only girl from Romeo, but is excited to try.
       "It's going to be fun," she said. "It's a new stage, new competition."
       The national level offers more than a competition. Students can participate in events like 5K or 10K runs and concerts while they're attending.
       The trip isn't for free, though. LeBlanc said each student has to raise around $1,000 to cover the hotel, registration and airplane fares. He said fundraisers and grants are being pursued.
       "They're respectful of the trip and the process because they had to pay into it and they want to be there to extend their learning experience," he said.

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