DECA co-presidents lead club to Nationals


Emily Harmon

DECA co-presidents seniors Rajat Lakkapragada and Keely Scott have worked to lead the organization and its members to success while building their own business knowledge.

Owen Cacciatore, Staff Writer

DECA co-presidents seniors Rajat Lakkapragada and Keely Scott have worked to lead the organization and its members to success while building their own business knowledge.

With 265 members, DECA, which allows students to gain experience through simulations of the business world, is Algonquin’s biggest club. Students choose between categories that are split into four main clusters: finance, marketing, hospitality tourism and business administration. They work to prepare for various levels of competition beginning with Districts and leading up to the International Career Development Conference (ICDC), also known as nationals, which will be held in Orlando, FL April 22 through 25.  

Lakkapragada competes in business finance, and Scott will be presenting a 10 page paper on her integrated marketing campaign, in which she developed a campaign for an existing product. She chose an environmentally friendly alternative to the K cup called Eco pods. 

The co-presidents have led DECA members through two stages of competition so far this year. According to Lakkapragada, about 150 students out of the 265 DECA members competed at Districts in Worcester at the DCU center where students see success year after year.

“If you are from Algonquin you are going to have a pretty good chance to move on [to States]; we are one of the better prepared towns in the district,” Lakkapragada said. 

Eighty-eight kids from Algonquin then moved onto states. Lakkapragada recognizes how each stage of the competition gets more challenging. 

“At States the top six make it [to Nationals] from each category and there are 40 to 50 people in your category,” Lakkapragada said. “The odds definitely go down once you get to States. Then if you want to place in the top six at ICDC it is really hard; you’re competing with hundreds of kids in your category.”   

Twenty five ARHS students qualified for ICDC in Orlando. 

Lakkapragada and Scott have been active DECA members for all four years of high school, with high achievement in their respective categories. As co-presidents, they have many responsibilities including the organization of the State and ICDC trips and overseeing their officer teams, which are broken into fundraising, pd marketing, outreach and membership subgroups. 

“Each sub-group has around 20 officers,” Lakkapragada said. “We are overseeing what their tasks are and we’re assigning them what to [do] and meet with each officer team.”

The co-presidents have learned from their previous positions in the organization. According to Scott,  DECA advisers Applied Arts teacher Tricia Riley and Math teacher Lauren Hesemeyer help them get their work done efficiently.

“[We collaborate to] stay as organized as possible, make sure meetings are organized, organize about 160 kids going to Worcester and 88 to Boston, with a lot of spreadsheets and we have officers that help too,” Scott said. “It’s basically a divide and conquer.”

The co-presidents believe participating in DECA is a great experience for all students even if they do not plan on pursuing business after high school.

“Joining DECA helps you no matter what field you want to go into,” Scott said. “It looks good on your college application and is an overall good club to be in. DECA is a way to apply business knowledge, to apply what you’ve learned from class, with real world experience.”

Scott and Lakkapragada believe DECA is an excellent combination of learning and fun. 

“I think when you’re joining DECA you have to have an open mind,” Lakkapragada said. “You’re going to learn something in DECA that will apply to that field and have real life interviews. Keep an open mind and have fun.”