BROOKSVILLE — A group of Central High School DECA students recently visited Orlando to compete during the State Career Development Conference.
One of those 17 had an additional agenda, to run for one of five vice president seats in Florida DECA, formerly Distributive Educational Clubs of America.
Junior Michelle Venezia, 16, passed out pens, pencils, pins, tees and brochures, and delivered a speech to about 3,000 statewide DECA members. She returned to Hernando County a winner of one of the positions.
Senior Dalton Whitelaw, 17, was the other conference winner. He won fourth place in the restaurant and food service marketing competition, which earned him a place in the International Career Development Conference in Anaheim, Calif., from April 29 through May 2.
Michelle will go to the conference as a Florida DECA officer. She will motivate Florida DECA members and take a preparation course with other state leaders.
She will go to Washington, D.C., in June to take the leadership class. Both students would appreciate sponsors to help them get to this event.
Dalton and Michelle explained how the state DECA elections are run. All DECA members do not vote. Instead, there is one delegate for every 25 members.
"We had eight," Dalton said, "so it's harder to run from a smaller school. Last year, we were told that small schools never win." That is why Michelle wanted to win even more.
She had tried last year, using chapter and sponsorship funds to run her campaign. She lost by three votes. She tried again this year, and Joni Industries underwrote her campaign.
As a state vice president, Michelle will join other officers to create the state program of work for local chapters to follow to attain gold level chapter status, and help design the state pin (pins are collectibles among DECA members) and the state T-shirt. She will also be expected to speak at other Florida High Schools to encourage DECA membership.
Dalton graduates at the end of the year, and he hopes to attend the University of South Florida to study premedicine.
Michelle has another year in high school, but she plans to attend the University of Central Florida. She is interested in business and hopes to intern with Disney World, where she would like to work in marketing.
Other Central High DECA members who competed in Orlando were Jennifer Davison, Jaime Martinez, Michael Gordon, Elizabeth Chaves and Cory Barone.
The team competitors were Emily Jones and Michelle Soto, Ryan Matkowski and Patrick Mulholland, Ryan Beaton and Matthew Bennet, Kristin Cooper and Michelle Venezia, and Vanessa Lobo and Tasheen Ortiz. Daniel Allegrone competed in the DECA Quiz Bowl.