All the way |

All the way

High school marketing team qualifies four students for international competition

Bridget Manley

John Ungefug, from left, Jessica Hogue, Cassie Gore and Austin Hill are the national qualifying team for the Moffat County High School DECA program. The four will compete at the International Career Development Conference in Atlanta on April 26 to 30.

— Krista Schenck, Moffat County High School business and marketing teacher, had a premonition.

“I thought we’d do well,” Schenck said, in reference to the high school’s Distributive Education Clubs of America performance at a state competition in Colorado Springs that began Saturday.

The premonition came true.

Still, the DECA adviser’s foresight didn’t prepare her for her team’s showing.

At state, four students on the team qualified for an international competition.

It was an outcome Schenck didn’t expect – an outcome, she said, that could define the Moffat County DECA team as formidable opponents in future competitions.

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DECA is a school group that teaches students marketing-related skills and terminology.

The four DECA members – John Ungefug, Cassie Gore, Austin Hill and Jessica Hogue – will fly to Atlanta on April 25 to compete in the International Career Development Conference.

The team will represent the state of Colorado in an event that hosts high school DECA members from all 50 states and select countries, including Germany and Guam.

There, Ungefug, Gore, Hill and Hogue will compete in a timed event that tests students on marketing terminology and techniques.

Applying different tactics to prepare the students for the State competition may have helped the four secure their win, Schenck said.

At past state competitions, DECA team members relied primarily on sample competition questions and other information that could be easily memorized, Schenck said.

This year, however, Schenck and her students hit the books – marketing textbooks, classroom materials – building up more complex reservoirs of knowledge on various topics, including accounting and entrepreneurship.

The strategy worked.

“This year, they knew it,” Schenck said, adding that additional information came into play the event’s final rounds.

The win marks the first time in at least 10 years that the DECA team has advanced beyond the state competition, Schenck said.

The students’ placing also proves that Moffat County can face off with larger Front Range schools – and win.

“Just because we’re a small school … doesn’t mean we can’t compete with Denver schools,” she said.

Still, the small-town school will face plenty of challenges at the international competition.

The sheer number of competitors, coupled with a new environment, could make competing at the event daunting, Schenck said.

Still, Ungefug doesn’t think that performing well at the conference will be a problem.

“I’m fairly confident we can do well at (the international competition) with more study,” he said.

Schenck is looking beyond the students’ last competition of the year and into coming year’s DECA teams.

“I think in their minds, they’re still small potatoes,” she said.

She hopes that a strong showing at the conference will change DECA students’ perceptions about their abilities.

Bridget Manley can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 207 or