SPOTSWOOD, NJ - Last spring Spotswood High School DECA seniors celebrated Decision Day at Disney World in Florida at the International Career Development Conference. This year's ICDC was supposed to be in Nashville, but it has been canceled due to the coronavirus crisis. COVID-19 has forever changed the landscape for Chargers seniors this year with remote learning and putting everything the graduating class of 2020 has been looking forward to on hold. Today the spotlight is on SHS DECA seniors as they reflect on the impact the program has had on their high school years.
DECA is a co-curricular program that prepares students for college as well as professional careers by combining classroom instruction with real-life interactions involving the community and area businesses as well as competitive events. Sixteen seniors are completing their DECA career at Spotswood High School in June including Michael Minnihan, Megan Flanagan, Brittany Rifenburg, Nicole Mezquita, Gabrielle Dellaglio, Erin Drebych, Kimberly Reichardt, Matthew Bohinski, Hannah White, Francis Kolbasowski, Nicole Garced, Steven Karczewski, Dylan Molloy, Thomas Perpente, Kayla Dekovics and Kennedy Simpson. The group was asked by Spotswood High School Business, Vocational and Technical teacher, Kelly Meagher to share their favorite moments from DECA over the past four years.
For Minnihan, it was becoming a top 10 ICDC finalist.
"My favorite DECA memory has to be going to states in my junior year," Flanagan said. "Steven and I were on stage, hearing names getting called for sixth, fifth, fourth and then finally our names. It was a great feeling of accomplishment, relief and excitement that we had placed and were going to ICDC."
This year Flanagan placed again and was supposed to go to Nashville with her partner, Kennedy Simpson.
"My favorite memory from being in DECA was placing third in my event this year at states with my partners, Nicole Mezquita and Nicole Garced," Rifenburg shared. "Being able to be on stage and accept our trophies was the best feeling."
"My favorite DECA moment was placing third at states and qualifying to go to nationals with my manual group," Mezquita said. "Placing at states had been my goal since freshman year and going on leadership to Orlando, Florida last year gave me the motivation I needed to place on our own as a senior."
"By far my favorite DECA moment was placing top ten in the Hospitality and Tourism Operations Research Event at ICDC in 2019," Dellaglio said. "It was a feeling like no other to hear our names called over the convention center loudspeakers when we finalized. It was so rewarding to be able to walk across the stage to receive medals to represent all the hard work we put in."
"My favorite DECA moment was getting to go to DECA night at Universal during the Orlando ICDC," Drebych said. "We got to run around the park with DECA kids from around the world and dance in the DECA rave. Hands down one of the most fun days of high school."
"My favorite DECA memory is the Monday after regionals sophomore year," Reichardt explained. "That year, the award ceremony got canceled due to weather, so we had to wait until the following Monday to find out the results. Mrs Meagher was able to tell each member individually that they were moving onto states. Seeing everyone’s reactions and all their hard work paying off was an indescribable experience that I will never forget."
"My all time favorite DECA memory is chicken fighting in the pool in Orlando, Florida," Bohinski said of his trip to nationals last spring. "It was an unforgettable experience getting to meet other high schoolers from all around the world."
"My favorite DECA moments were at ICDC 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia," White shared. "Choosing just one moment is challenging because that trip was the best week of my life! A favorite highlight of mine was meeting all the other students from the other chapters across the nation via pin trading, and our long walks to and from the convention center. We may have gotten blisters from walking the mile in heels all week, but I wouldn't trade that bonding time with my favorite people for anything."
"My favorite DECA moment was when Shae Griffin and I took over Downtown Deca at states this year with our stellar performance of 'What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong," Kolbasowski said. "Having a place to have fun with friends and meet new friends from other DECA chapters was the highlight of my DECA experience."
"My favorite DECA moment was becoming closer with everyone at states, especially my manual group, who I placed third with," Garced said.
"My favorite DECA moment was the DECA Rave at Universal in Orlando, Florida," Karczewski shared. "I loved this particular event because I was having so much fun dancing with my best friends and the best advisor and listening to music surrounded by hundreds of other DECA kids. Even if I try to forget the smell, I could never forget that day."
"Although I had many favorite DECA moments throughout my four years in the program, one of my favorite moments was hanging out with my good friend Robert in Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida," Molloy explained. "Here we got to meet the one and only DECA Jeff in Simpsons Park. We got to experience the majority of the rides at Universal Studios and even tried the famous Butter Beer in Diagon Alley. The whole ICDC experience will never go away and I would like to thank Mrs.Meagher for a great four years in the DECA program."
"My favorite memory from DECA is going to ICDC last year in Orlando, Florida," Perpente said. "It was a lot of fun to meet new people, but also to make new memories with my friends. My two favorite moments from the ICDC trip were seeing Harry Potter World and the trip to Disney."
"My favorite DECA memory was qualifying for states my freshman year with Hannah, Michael, Erin and Kimmie," Dekovics shared. "This is my favorite memory because that was the first time I realized how much I liked competing and being a member of DECA. This was the beginning of a club that would quickly have such a big impact on my high school experience, so it’s nice to look back and see where it all began."
"My favorite DECA moment was making it to ICDC my sophomore year," Simpson explained. "My manual partner, Kimmie Reichardt and I had no intentions of placing at states. As only sophomores, it was a dream come true to place fifth in all of New Jersey and be rewarded with the opportunity to go to Atlanta, Georgia, which was so much fun. I will never forget that feeling of being up on stage and hearing our names being called."