In April 2019, DECA students from Lakewood, Washington’s Clover Park High School competed at the DECA International Career Development Conference in Orlando, Florida. In recognition of their hard work and determination, Kitti Wheeler, ACTE member and Clover Park marketing teacher, wrote:
“We are a new DECA Chapter and we had just opened our student store the year before. This was the first opportunity for us to compete in the school-based enterprise event. As a new adviser, I didn’t know how to prepare my students to compete at this level. Not to mention, my students had numerous extenuating circumstances — including personal illness and a parent’s terminal cancer diagnosis. These events caused two of my three team members to miss a lot of school and presented significant barriers, making it more challenging to work together and compete.
“I requested an extension and, to my surprise, we were granted one extra day. When I received word that we qualified to compete, I was in disbelief. Actually, I’m still amazed because we placed in the top 10! Proud doesn’t describe how it felt to watch my students receive award medallions on stage in front of 20,000 people. As a result our student store earned Gold Certification.
“This is truly a Cinderella story. Every time I think about our accomplishment, I get goose bumps.”
When asked about what motivated their success, the Clover Park High School students responded, “Teamwork and [Ms. Wheeler’s] belief in us.”
Wheeler, who was recently named the WA ACTE Teacher of the Year, concluded, “I learned a huge lesson to never underestimate what my students can achieve.”
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