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Draper Journal

Seven students to represent Corner Canyon High at international DECA contest

May 29, 2022 12:58PM ● By Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

This spring, Corner Canyon High junior Jarret Jones was looking over his 20-page business services paper before he and six other Corner Canyon students were to compete in the international DECA conference.

“I can make revisions to the paper to change some aspects to make it even better,” said the second-place state finisher in his first year of participating in DECA.

DECA, or Distributive Education Clubs of America, prepares emerging high school and college leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management. There are more than 175,000 members worldwide, including 3,200 high school chapters

This is the first year DECA held an in-person international competition since 2019, as 2020 events were canceled because of COVID-19 safety and health guidelines. Last year, internationals was held virtually.

Only Corner Canyon’s captain and senior, John Norton, has competed internationally in person.  

“I’m really excited,” he said. “I went as a freshman and it really amazed me. I had not expected the kind of camaraderie you have bonding with a group of people you know for a week. I’m really excited for that. I think we’ve got a good shot this year; we really have a good powerhouse team. Everyone who qualified is going and is prepared.”

In Atlanta, Norton will compete in entrepreneurship, a contest he won at state both his sophomore and junior year. This year, he took second place at state.

Corner Canyon DEX adviser, Stephanie Morgan, said her team is rebounding from the inability to do much during the pandemic.

“COVID really hurt club activities; almost every DECA activity and field trip was canceled, so we’ve been trying to do more with competitions and other activities,” she said.

For example, Morgan said they’ve helped with school service projects and toured local businesses such as Provo Beach, doTERRA, Boondocks, Top Golf, Airborne and Alcatraz.

“The businesses usually take the students around, then talk to them about marketing strategies, social media – things students can learn from professionals in field,” she said. “We’ve been told how they run their businesses, how much revenue they bring in from businesses versus private parties and they give us all the numbers. Students loved hearing specifics about how much money businesses make off certain stuff and how they strategize to make money. We love it, as teachers, because it makes everything we’ve been teaching them all of the sudden seem applicable in real life.”

Those field trips pull about 100 students from three teachers’ classes – Morgan’s as well as from her first-year assistant coach Jonas Jones and Jon Hansen, who was the former state DECA adviser.

Those numbers have helped build the club to more than 200 members, which is the most in the state. Corner Canyon was recognized at the state conference for being the largest chapter.

Morgan gives a lot of the credit to both Norton and Hansen.

“John Norton is our DECA president and our sterling scholar in business and marketing. He’s just a phenomenal student who’s more passionate about DECA than anyone. He’s been instrumental in growing the club and preparing the kids for competition,” she said. “And my secret is Jon Hansen. He has been a tremendous help training and preparing the students – and me as a first-year adviser – in competitions. He pulled previous years’ role-plays and had our seniors show the new club members things like how to greet the judges. He also showed them his best techniques for notes, which students are allowed to take in for role-play.”

Jones said those role-playing scenarios helped him in his preparation.

“They showed us how we should present ourselves in a business setting and gave us some public speaking tips,” he said, adding that he has used his writing skills as well as his knowledge of business in his competition.

Morgan said that many DECA students have taken business courses at the school and through concurrent enrollment, so they have a solid understanding of terminology and knowledge.

“We see they have the knowledge and vocabulary to draw upon from those classes and experiences visiting businesses,” she said.

Corner Canyon competed at the Aggie Invitational at Utah State University in October, which was the first contest for the majority of the 45 students who attended. The school participated in regionals Jan. 21 at Brigham Young University and then went to state in late February at the Salt Palace Convention Center.

Norton, who joined DECA after seeing the fun his older brother was having in the chapter, competed most of the year in entrepreneurship, which gives contestants a scenario that there’s a start-up company experiencing a problem.

“So, it’s my job to solve that problem in the time that’s given,” he said. “My dad owns his own business and that helped a lot even though the business is not related to anything with the contest. It has just helped to have someone who can provide insight on things you might not think about when starting a business.”

At state, he competed in entrepreneurship as well as a professional sales event because, “people always joke with me that I could sell ice to an Eskimo.” He finished fourth in that contest.

“I’m always thinking of new ways to expand my knowledge so I can do better, things that I need to do to understand how all of this works and how I can be part of it,” he said. “With DECA, I’ve had the opportunity to be a leader. I lead by example. When I get people involved in DECA events, I show them the benefits they can have and why this is important. When I went to my first DECA tournament, I absolutely loved it. I had so much fun. There is a sense of community and a kind of family relationship that I really did not think could be gained in high school. At school, I found my home; I found my family.”

That bonding and support of his teammates and his instructors is something Jones appreciates.

“The environment is fun and I’m working with a group of smart kids,” he said. “I love the instructors and I’m learning skills I’ll probably need later in my career.”

Many of those skills have focused on his written event where he showed how he could improve employee experiences at Utah Wellness Institute, a business owned by his grandfather who is a chiropractor.

Jones interviewed his grandfather, surveyed his employees, found out strategies that worked and failed in the past, researched other companies and made a plan on how to reduce the workload, boost morale through employee incentives and build relationships.

“My grandpa thought there were some good ideas and is in the process of implementing some of them right now,” Jones said. “At state, I answered questions like ‘what steps did you have to take and why?’

Jones also medaled in principles of business management at state, but can only compete at internationals in one category, so he plans to present his employee improvement plan.

“There was a lot of work and time involved with the paper, but I’m glad I pushed through. It was a good experience to go and present to judges,” he said.

Morgan said that it was an opportunity that bonded the relationship between Jones and his grandfather.

“It was really neat for him to be able to work with his grandpa and compete based on that experience. He is an all-star student, really sharp, and had some great ideas,” she said.

With internationals ahead, she reflected on the year: “We have a lot of great students, and they did an awesome job in our competitions. I’m excited for next year.”