Lillian, Alex, Kaistin, and their advisor Cayden Black pose in front of a large blue wall that says "DECA."
(Left to right) GCHS students Lillian Scott, Alex Mascaro, and Kaistin Oliver traveled to Atlanta, GA, for the DECA International Career Development Conference, with their advisor Cayden Black. Credit: Courtesy photo

Grand County High School students Alex Mascaro, Kaistin Oliver, and Lillian Scott each qualified at the International Career Development Conference of DECA held in Atlanta, Georgia.

“Students who participate in DECA are a hard-working group, and they usually participate in multiple activities, not just DECA,” said Cayden Black, the GCHS DECA advisor. “They’re kind of a resource for the school.” 

DECA is an association of business and marketing students that holds conferences and competitions. At competitions, students compete in team decision-making and individual events under categories including business law and ethics, financial services, marketing management, hotel and lodging management, and apparel and accessories marketing—students are given tests and role-play situations to judge their ideas. 

Grand County High School’s DECA chapter started four years ago. Now, Mascaro, Oliver, and Scott each hold leadership positions within the club. Mascaro joined on a whim, he said, because he dreams of being a GCHS Sterling Scholar, and thought DECA would help him get there. He’s planning to stick with the club, he said: he instantly liked it. 

“It really forces you to learn and push yourself,” Mascaro said, adding that he enjoys how he gets to apply what he learns in school. As a freshman last year, he said he was really nervous for his presentations, especially since the competition judges were industry professionals. But this year felt a lot more comfortable, he said—and it showed, as his finalist placement put him in the top 0.5% of the ICDC competitors. 

Oliver joined when the chapter began because she had taken an entrepreneurship class and was interested in business and marketing, she said. She went to a few meetings, and the next thing she knew, the DECA advisor, Cayden Black, had signed her up to compete in the regional competition. 

“I’m a really competitive person,” she said. At her first competition, she was just trying to beat one of her GCHS peers, she said—and when she did, she realized DECA was something she was good at. 

“I’m really thankful for my teammates,” she said, adding that the ICDC was a “great way to end senior year.” Oliver is planning to attend Dixie State University in St. George to study marketing. 

Any high schoolers interested in joining DECA can contact Scott at 435-210-0739, or pick up an application from the GCHS office.