Students in South Salem High School marketing teacher John Dixon’s DECA program learn how answer difficult questions with poise and confidence that is rare for teens.
DECA is a component of marketing courses at South Salem, and is one of five Career and Technical Education programs offered at the school. It focuses on business skills.
Students work in teams of three-to-four students, from October to February. They brainstorm together to come up with ideas for businesses or products, create business plans, and then pitch them to judges at the state competition.
Pictured from left: DECA students Kudzai Kapurura, Lucy Partridge, and Kundai Kapurura
practicing for the state competition by presenting a World Beat promotion plan to School
Board Chair Nancy MacMorris-Adix and Scott Harra from the Oregon State Treasury
You can think of DECA as being similar to the hit ABC-TV program Shark Tank, where entrepreneurs pitch business plans to celebrity investors.
South Salem senior Jillian Studer is president of the school’s DECA chapter. She’s been a member of DECA all four years in high school.
“It challenges you to think on your feet,” Jillian said. “You can prepare for a presentation all day long, but once we’re in that room answering questions, we have to defend our project to the judges and explain why it’s something they should invest in.”
Mr. Dixon launched the DECA chapter at South Salem in 2005. There are 180 students in the program at the school this year.
“We’re Oregon’s largest chapter,” he said. “It seems like it just keeps growing and growing every year.”
Not only is student participation in Mr. Dixon’s DECA program the largest in Oregon, it is also the most successful DECA chapter in the state.
Pictured: South Salem DECA students waiting their turn to practice presenting their
buinsess plans to volunteers from the local business community, and to other
community volunteers in preparation for the DECA State Career Development
Conference in Portland from Feb. 12-14, 2017.
After placing in the top three in their categories at the Oregon DECA championships in mid-February, Mr. Dixon’s DECA chapter has almost 50 students competing at DECA International Career Development Conference from April 26-29, 2017, in Anaheim, California.
South Salem Principal Lara Tiffin appreciates Mr. Dixon’s leadership and all the hours he puts into teaching his students how to succeed.
“As our DECA advisor, John Dixon, dedicates countless hours preparing our DECA members for the state competition,” Principal Tiffin said. “Not only does John prepare students for their presentations, written tests and role plays, but he also organizes the four-day stay in Portland for the state competition.”
Not all students who participate in DECA will go on to work in marketing or become entrepreneurs.
Even though she’s the chapter president, Jillian isn’t planning to go into marketing or become an entrepreneur. She plans to study exercise science at college and become a physical therapist.
Principal Tiffin explained how the DECA program at South Salem benefits all students who participate, not just those who plan to study business at college.
“John is developing valuable skills in our students, such as how to create and give presentations, how to work with a team, how to problem solve and how to persevere,” she said.