A summary of Harker DECA's experience at ICDC 2023!
San Jose, California – From August 13 to August 14, 2022, over 50 incoming freshmen participated in Harker DECA’s ninth annual DECA Launch. The event focused on introducing students to Harker’s business and entrepreneurship program and the competitive events that DECA offers. By listening to officer-led presentations, engaging in hands-on activities, and taking part in mock competitions, students were able to gain a better understanding of what DECA is and create connections and memories—all in just two days.
“DECA Launch provides the perfect experience for our freshmen class to get their first taste of the upper school and explore a new interest all at once. Through our mini campus tour and workshop by our upperclassmen mentors, we got to introduce the freshmen to the environment they'll be immersed in for the next four years. Along with the opening activities, Launch hosted two mock DECA events: an Innovation Challenge and a Roleplay Tournament. Through these competitions, students were able to become a DECA competitor for the weekend and experience the atmosphere of an actual conference. Another great thing about Launch are the friendships. It’s always great to see bonds being forged and connections being made between the students by the end of the weekend. The other officers and I have made some of our most meaningful friendships here at DECA and we’re so excited to continue expanding the community to welcome our new members this year,” said Anika Muddu (12), Chief Executive Officer.
As students started to arrive on Saturday morning, officers gave them name tags and swag bags. After enjoying breakfast, attendees made their way into the Nichols auditorium for the opening ceremony. Chief Executive Officer Anika Muddu (12) and Executive Vice President Rohan Gorti (12) kicked off the event by giving a formal introduction and presentation to the freshman about DECA on the international and school-wide levels. After that, attendees had the chance to hear from former Vice President of Competitions, Bryan Zhang (ʼ21), who provided his insight and experiences with DECA. Then, ICDC competitor and former Director of Roleplays Cynthia Wang (10) gave her advice to the new students.
Following the opening ceremony, attendees met with their Launch groups and mentors to play an icebreaker game called the marshmallow challenge. As they tried to create the tallest towers with spaghetti noodles, marshmallows, and tape, they learned about the importance of working with a team.
Then, attendees took a tour of the upper school campus. After arriving at the innovation center, they listened to an introduction to DECA presentation, and officers gave presentations about the five competitive event clusters of DECA: Business Management and Administration, Hospitality and Tourism, Finance, Marketing, and Entrepreneurship.
“Cluster presentations are one of the most important presentations of DECA Launch as they explain each cluster in depth and the events that go with it, which help freshmen narrow down their options,” said Director of Roleplays Sanaa Bhorkar (10).
Next was lunch, followed by the introduction of the Innovation Challenge — a shortened version of the Entrepreneurship Innovation Plan event that DECA offers. Director of Written Events Emily Mitnick (10) introduced how to write an executive summary and create a cohesive slideshow presentation. She also introduced this year’s theme—niches—and explained the importance of niches within target markets of a company.
“The DECA Launch inspired me to think outside of the box with a new company pitch and to think on the spot during Roleplays. I learned so much about business and entrepreneurship during just these two days!” said Sophia Bagley (9).
“The Innovation Challenge represented everything DECA has to offer: the creative freedom to communicate our ideas, the extremely supportive community to lean on and learn from, and the endless choices we are privileged enough to receive in our various pursuits,” said Pavitra Kasthuri (9).
For the remainder of the day, students began to brainstorm what product or service they would like to create for the project. Day one concluded with a quick closing about what to expect for day two and commendations.
“DECA wasn’t something I thought I’d be interested in, but after attending the Launch, I think I found something that I would really enjoy doing. I’m so excited to join this program, and I can’t wait to attend future conferences!” said Helen Gu (9).
Day two started bright and early with a cereal bar for breakfast. Next, students had the opportunity to hear from Mr. Glass about this year’s new membership theme, “Get the Edge.” He also highlighted Harker's business and entrepreneurship programs. Additionally, two founders of TuffToy—a dog toy company started in Harker’s incubator program—Rohan Gorti (12) and Zubin Khera (12) gave a presentation about their company and their experience with Harker’s entrepreneurship class.
After a short stretch break, the competitions subteam introduced a Kahoot! with questions that might appear on their future examinations. Subsequently, Director of Roleplays Sanaa Bhorkar (10) gave a Roleplay tips and tricks workshop and performed a live Roleplay. After that, attendees listened to a written events workshop as well as a graphic design workshop presented by the public relations subteam.
Then, students continued to work on their innovation plan in their groups. After lunch, students continued to work on their projects until the mock Roleplay competitions. Mentors came to teach students about how to present a Roleplay, and in pairs, each attendee had the opportunity to perform in a mock competition.
“I see real potential in the class of 2026, not just regarding Roleplays, but in general. I can’t wait to see what they achieve in the next four years!” said mentor Sam Parupudi (10).
Shortly after, parents started to arrive and enjoyed dinner before attending the alumni panel in the auditorium. Once hearing a summary of Launch from Executive Vice President Rohan Gorti (12) and VP of Operations Chloe Lee (11), they had the opportunity to talk to four alumni — Shania Wang (ʼ19), Rohan Varma (ʼ21), Gianna Chan (ʼ22), and Lucas Wang (ʼ17) — about their experiences with DECA throughout their high school years and beyond.
As the alumni panel concluded, students joined their parents in the auditorium and presented their innovation plans. As the judges calculated their scores, students and parents watched the Launch recap video, highlighting the success of the attendees over the course of the weekend. DECA Launch 2022 concluded with closing remarks from Mr. Glass and an awards ceremony highlighting the attendees’ successes.
“DECA Launch this year was a huge success,” said chapter advisor Juston Glass. “Both the officer team and the attendees worked extremely hard and took on challenges with open arms. I was impressed with the class of 2026’s DECAcation and the amazing ideas they came up with in just two days. I know we are going to achieve great things in the upcoming year, and let’s get the edge!”
Winners are as follows:
1st Place: Arushi Sahasi (9) & Kimi Yashar (9)
2nd Place: Brenna Ren (9) & Tiffany Zhu (9)
3rd Place: Amishi Gupta (9) & Yena Yu (9)
Top 10: Brenna Ren (9) & Tiffany Zhu (9), Mindy Truong (9) & Tanvi Sivakumar (9), Farhan Ansari (9) & Krish Arora (9), Ishan Mysore (9) & Ethan Lei (9), Carissa Wu (9) & Helen Gu (9), Sahil Jain (9) & Krish Goenka (9), Arushi Sahasi (9) & Kimi Yashar (9), Amishi Gupta (9) & Yena Yu (9), Pavitra Kasthuri (9) & Aya Sugaya (9), Celina Xu (9) & Jingjing Liang (9)
Most Innovative: Mihir Gupta (9), Carissa Wu (9), Helen Gu (9), Sophia Bagley (9), Justin Yang (9), Pavitra Kasthuri (9)
Best Presentation: Samuel Tong (9), Yena Yu (9), Janam Chahal (9), Minal Jalil (9), David Li (9), Victoria Ma (9), MacEnzie Blue (9)
Most Feasible: Allison Hoang (9), Angelina Antony (9), Aanya Shah (9), Sahil Jain (9), Krish Goenka (9), Roshan Amurthur (9), Samantha Liu (9), Ayaan Awais (9)
Best Overall: Daniel Miao (9), Eddie Zhang (9), Evan Zhang (9), Celina Xu (9), Jingjing Liang (9), Leana Zhou (9)
About The Harker School DECA
Harker DECA is an International Competitive Business Organization that prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in four fields of business: marketing, finance, hospitality, and management. Our DECA chapter integrates classroom instruction, applies learning, connects to business, and promotes competition in order to prepare the next generation to be academically prepared, community oriented, professionally responsible, and experienced leaders.
To learn more about this story, please contact:
Ariana Gauba, Director of Communications