WHS DECA club dominates in state conference

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Whitefish High School showed up to compete at the DECA state conference on Feb. 10-12 in Fairmont Hot Springs, notching 56 total finalists and eight state champions.

Among the state champions were: Josie Johnson in human resources management; Elizabeth Campbell in apparel and accessories marketing; Ian Calaway, Laura Eshleman and Olivia Potthoff in innovation plan; and Kendall Reed, Sara Gunlikson and Jack Robertson in hospitality and tourism operations research.

Among the six runner-up finishers were: Luca Welle in principles of marketing; Claire Carloss in principles of hospitality and tourism; Niko Hunter in principles of finance; Anna Cook and Thea Vrentas for their Learn and Earn project; and Ian Grover in start-up business plan.

Ten students took third place: Grover in business finance services; Brenden Cahill in creative marketing project; Abby Lowry and Lucy Schindler in innovation plan; Halle Friedner, Reagan Retz and Blaine Thew in integrated marketing campaign event; Keegan Wold in principles of finance; Katie Arterburn in principles of hospitality and tourism; and Samantha Bee in restaurant and food services management.

Whitefish’s first, second and third place finishers all qualified for nationals, which is held in Orlando in April.

DECA coach Willie Roche said he was very happy with how his students performed at state.

“We graduated a strong class [last] year and it was up in the air how we would do this year, but the kids rose to the occasion,” he said. “This last weekend we had the highest number of new members in the state. Our overall place at state was fourth, behind Bozeman, Glacier and Sentinel. It’s fun to compete against those schools and hold our own against schools that may triple our total students.” “When you’re a Class A school competing with the AA schools, it adds a level of competition that our kids don’t usually get.”

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