All Portola High Student Enterprisers Place as Finalists at DECA Conference For First Time in School History

All 15 competing Portola High student delegates placed as finalists at the in-person 2022 SoCal District Career Development Conference on Jan. 8. California Distributive Education Clubs of America hosted the event at a Marriott Hotel conference center in Anaheim. The conference was the third ever DECA competition that Portola High’s DECA chapter has attended and the first in school history that all participating delegates qualified as finalists for, according to co-president and senior Anna Su.

Delegates from ROP Virtual Enterprise now plan to attend the California state competition from Feb. 24-27, with the goal of hopefully competing at the international level from April 23-26 in Atlanta, according to business club president and senior Howard Zhang.

“I was so proud of all of my students,” ROP Virtual Enterprise teacher and club adviser Katherine Dillon said. “I think it’s really rare for every student from a school to make it to the finalist round. Even if it was your first time or you weren’t sure about your event, every single person had some level of success and was able to see their hard work pay off.”

Prior to this year’s conference, the Portola Business club used to represent Portola High at DECA conferences. However, DECA guidelines for the 2020-21 school year required all participating delegates to be enrolled in a business-related ROP course, according to Dillon.

“I feel like this has definitely become more of a serious thing, since we’re spending actual class time preparing for it, and in class, we’re also given more freedom of what we want to do,” Zhang said.

ROP Virtual Enterprise’s class success was particularly noteworthy as it is relatively new to the DECA scene as opposed to other competing schools with long-established programs, according to Zhang.

First-time delegate and sophomore Shriya Janolkar placed third overall in the quick serve restaurant management competition, as part of the hospitality and tourism category.

“Now that I actually know what I’m going into, I think I’ll be okay for states and future competitions,” Janolkar said. “But before, I was nervous personally, because even our seniors didn’t have much experience due to COVID and since it was a club.”

Students selected competitions from five different categories: marketing, business management and administration, hospitality and tourism, finance and entrepreneurship. A combination of student’s scores in a 100-question multiple-choice quiz and their performance in a roleplaying assignment determined ranking.

“Our DECA team consists of some of the most dedicated individuals, and who knows, the next time you see us could be at internationals,” Janolkar said. “I hope that whether or not we win, we will have memories for years to come.”