ROSELLE, NJ — Nine high school business students are getting intense on-the-job training in their prospective field as they look to compete in an international career competition.
And they’re learning the challenges of many businesses — raising funds.
After initially qualifying via the state competition in Atlantic City, members of Abraham Clark High School’s Distributive Education Clubs of America chapter were invited to participate in the International Career and Development Conference in Atlanta from April 21 to 24.
Despite several fundraising measures, such as bake sales and a GoFundMe online campaign, their March 31 deadline is edging closer and the students still need $8,815 to make the trip.
Amazen Barnette, president of the school’s DECA chapter, told LocalSource the group sells popcorn and cupcakes every Friday, which generates an estimated $100 per week.
“And on March 28, the borough of Roselle is holding a districtwide fundraiser for $5 to dress down in jeans instead of our normal uniforms,” Barnette said.
The total fundraising goal is $11,500, which will go toward the nine students’ airfare, lodging, meals, and event and registration costs. It also will cover two adult chaperones.
“This is an incredible opportunity for these students and a great source of pride for the community of Roselle,” club adviser Ryan Norwood said. “Unfortunately, our students cannot afford to go without a lot of help.”
If the students are able to go to Atlanta, one will even compete on behalf of the state of New Jersey against top international competitors.
“Attending this conference would mean that my school accomplished something,” Barnette said. “It means taking my school on a national level and representing Abraham Clark High School.”
Any leftover funds from the effort would go toward next year’s DECA scholars’ competition costs, the gofundme page states.
DECA is a co-curricular organization that focuses on preparing students for business-related careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management.
The organization, founded in 1946, is not unique to Roselle but is international, with more than 215,000 members in all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Canada, China, Germany, Guam, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Spain
DECA is organized into two divisions: the high school division, with participation in 3,500 schools, and the collegiate division, which includes 275 colleges and universities.
Each DECA conference varies, Norwood said, but competitions typically task students with solving business scenarios and questions before a judge.
Since its inception in 2016, the Abraham Clark High School’s DECA chapter has expanded its membership and has more than 50 students and 20 community professionals.
Throughout the year, the school’s DECA chapter takes part in numerous charitable endeavors, previously raising more than $900 to support the Bridge of Books Foundation, which gives books to underprivileged children in New Jersey.
The group also runs the Ram Nation Campus Store, the school’s apparel retail outlet.
Whether to build upon marketing skills or to improve their public speaking, the students join the chapter for various reasons, Norwood told LocalSource.
“Participating in DECA means a lot to me,” Barnette said. “The chapter gives me a lot of leadership and management skills which will aid my future career.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version identified club adviser Ryan Norwood by an incorrect first name.