MANCHESTER — DECA is a big deal at Manchester Memorial High School.
DECA describes itself as an association that prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management in high schools and colleges around the globe.
But thanks to marketing teacher Judith Johnson, Memorial Senior Robert Kliskey said it's more than that. It's life-changing.
Kliskey, 17, said his mom wanted him to become a doctor, but he wasn't at all interested.
At the same time, he said: "I didn't know what I wanted to do. DECA prepared me." He has been involved in DECA for three years and now has a career plan.
He plans to attend business school, preferably Bentley College in Waltham, Mass., and to eventually have his own business. "I want to open my own sports agency," he said. "I love DECA."
Four hundred DECA members from across New Hampshire competed in events at the Radisson in Manchester on Feb. 13.
Kliskey placed first overall in role play and second in the international business plan, a 30-page paper plus a presentation, in the sports and entertaintment marketing categories.
The paper was a labor of love and cut into relaxation time. "I started (writing it) in July," he said. He was so determined to have the 30-page paper as perfect as possible that he passed on some chances for fun. He said it was worth the effort.
It involved developing a plan to expand a city indoor sports center business to another country. Participants have to "sell" their plan to a group of judges. "It's literally Shark Tank," he said, referring to the television program.
Like his fellow club members who scored well enough in the state DECA competition earlier this month, the 17-year-old is working to raise money for the trip to the international career development competition in Atlanta, May 1-7.
He's optimistic about his chances in Atlanta, because one of the judges at the state competition gave him pointers on what to fix. "I like challenging myself in business," he said.
Memorial traditionally sends the largest contingent to the international competition, with Manchester High School West sending six and Manchester High School Central sending 10 this year.
Twenty-eight Memorial students qualified for the May event and Kliskey said 25 of them are planning to attend. They will be competing for college scholarships. But it costs about $1,200.
Fundraising projects are being planned, he said, but the students are also hoping for tax-deductible contributions.Donations can be made by sending checks made out to Memorial High School DECA, 1 Crusader Way, Manchester, 03103.
For more information email the DECA adviser, Judith Johnson at email@example.com