North Buncombe High School and A.C. Reynolds High School DECA students and advisors

Students from A.C. Reynolds and North Buncombe high schools are back from a business trip in California, where they practiced skills to propel them into the future.

The eight students are members of DECA, a high school marketing organization that gives students an opportunity to apply skills learned in class to real-life business scenarios. Members qualified to attend the DECA International Career Development Conference in Anaheim, which took place at the end of April, following superior achievement at the state competition in March.

DECA logo on screen at ICDC opening sessionStudents attended leadership programs and competed in marketing challenges with students from across the country and around the world, including Canada, Germany, Turkey, China and the Dominican Republic.

“DECA has truly been a transformative experience for me,” said Reynolds senior Jack Couzins, who received a medal for achieving one of the top exam scores in the world for Travel/Tourism Team Decision Making . “This is real-world marketing, and my experience with DECA and in my marketing classes had us ready.”

Jack Couzins displays DECA medalCouzins and Reynolds competitors Titus Fore, Nathan Burgin, and Michael Morris all received North Carolina Platinum awards for their marketing presentations.

Four students, North Buncombe’s Addison Minton and Abigail Ramsey, and ACR’s Bryce Clark and Cayden Rejzer, qualified to attend the Thrive Leadership Academy through their community service work, and for promoting DECA in their schools.

“It definitely helps you get out of your shell,” Minton shared. “We learned the importance of networking. Who your circle is really matters. I feel better prepared to promote North Buncombe DECA throughout our school.”

One of their activities included creating a dance with someone they’d never met before, to help them use their creative thinking and leadership skills.

“We got to share a lot of ideas on how we can do more in our communities and find out what’s happening in schools from students all around the world,” said Ramsey.

North Buncombe High School DECA at Laguna BeachStudents also had an opportunity to experience businesses they’d studied in Hospitality/Tourism and Marketing classes, including the iconic In-And-Out Burger and Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles.

“This is one of the best school-related experiences I’ve ever had,” said Reynolds junior Bryce Clark. “Experiencing places I’ve only seen online, getting in the Pacific Ocean, learning real life skills and meeting people from around the globe. It made so many things we learn in class become real.”

Participating in DECA through high school also helps students make important decisions about the future.

“Preparing a marketing plan and presenting it in front of a judge has shown me the types of marketing opportunities that exist in the business world,” explained Reynolds senior Titus Fore. “It’s given me a guide for what I want to do, and the path I can take to make it happen.”

Members of ACR DECA in Anaheim with their advisorsIn addition to A.C. Reynolds and North Buncombe, there are DECA chapters at Nesbitt Discovery Academy, Owen, and T.C. Roberson high schools.