(Editor's Note: Gabby Mine is a junior at South Plainfield High School and an intern for TAPinto South Plainfield.) 

SOUTH PLANFIELD, NJ ­– Four members of the South Plainfield High School (SPHS) chapter of the Distributive Education Club of America (DECA) are headed to California to compete in the International Career Development Conference. SPHS students Alexandria Frontz, Adanna Ibeku, Tatiana Ishod, and Pooja Patel will represent the borough at the Anaheim, CA-based competition set to take place next month.

DECA is an international association that serves to ‘prepare emerging leaders to be college and career ready’ in areas of marketing, management and entrepreneurship in business, finance, and hospitality. Students attend conferences’ where they act out different business scenarios and they create ways to solve the problems they are faced with.

Sign Up for E-News

This past January, South Plainfield’s DECA members competed in the New Jersey DECA regional conference held at Kean University with 13 students placing and with nine others submitting projects. A total of 22 members then went on to represent the South Plainfield School District at the New Jersey DECA state conference, which was held Feb. 21-23 in Atlantic City. Among them were Alexandria Frontz, Adanna Ibeku, Tatiana Ishod, and Pooja Patel along with Justin Bell, Kaziah Betts, Samantha Carhuaricra, Alejandro Cepeda, Alex Entchev, Megan Forester, Ezinne Ibeku, James Joyner, Kieran Mangra, Michelle Pastuna, Meera Patel, Jackie Sanchez, Anyssa Silva, Kaitlyn Smith, Amivi Sogbo, Alyssa Soto, Dayana Velasco, and Kenny Williams.

Following the two-day competition, Soto and Bell received an instructional award for their advertising campaign, while Forester and Sanchez also earned medals and spots as finalists in the marketing management team event. Additionally, Frontz and Pooja Patel received an award for their contributions to the community service project, while both Adanna and Ezinne Ibeku earned certificates for their test scores in the hotel and lodging cluster.

Out of the eight aforementioned students, four – Frontz, Adanna Ibeku, Ishod, and Pooja Patel – qualified to compete at the ICDC. “It’s hectic, it’s stressful, it’s so time consuming, but it’s so rewarding,” said Pooja. “Hearing them announce that the project you spent countless hours working on, has won at a regional, state, and national level makes your heart stop. You are filled with relief and happiness all at once.”  

“I’m just so proud of all the members and the way they carry themselves and compete at each competition,” said SPHS introduction to business teacher Kelly Butrico, who, along with the English teacher Jennifer O’Brien ran the program while DECA advisor Kayla Bryant-Khanutin was on maternity leave.

“With the program being so young, I was very worried about how it would survive in my absence, but the kids did phenomenal,” said Bryant-Khanutin. “They amassed their written projects and visuals independently, and met all deadlines. Of course, Kelly [Butrico] and Jen [O’Brien] did a great job of staying on top of them.”

The SPHS chapter of DECA was implemented by Bryant-Khanutin in 2014 and is currently in its third year with 44 students in ninth through 12th grade involved with the club.

In addition to providing students with skills for life following graduation, the club also runs club also runs fundraisers – including the upcoming 2nd Annual Tint Sprint 5K and Wellness Fair scheduled for next month – throughout the year. Hosted by both DECA and the SPHS tennis team, with the support from the South Plainfield Mayor’s Wellness Committee, this year’s Tint Sprint is planned for Sunday, April 23 on the grounds of South Plainfield High School. Proceeds will help offset equipment costs for the tennis team and transportation and competition expenses for DECA.

To register visit To register for the April 23 Tint Sprint 5K, visit http://www.active.com/south-plainfield-nj/running/distance-running/sphs-tint-sprint-and-wellness-fair-2017. For additional information, contact Kayla Bryant-Khanutin at kbryantkhanutin@spboe.org/908-754-4620, ext. 527 or Dana Curcio at dcurcio@spboe.org.

TAPinto South Plainfield is South Plainfield’s only free daily paper. Sign up to get all the news as it happens at www.TAPinto.net/enews and follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SouthPlainfieldTAP/ and on Twitter at @SoplainfieldTAP.