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DECA students qualify for nationals

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Ten Rosemount High School students will have a chance to go up against some of the best business students in the country thanks to a strong showing at the DECA state competition held the weekend of March 8.

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Calvin Benson, Stephanie Laumer, Micah Marshall, Kali Debaun, Michael Huffstuttler, Elizabeth Jagerson and Paige Henke qualified for the late-April International Career Development Conference in Louisville, Ky. Sara Devitt, Katelyn Paget and Abby Ceglar qualified as a team with a modified version of a project that has already earned national recognition from the Finish Line chain of athletic apparel stores.

Earlier this year Devitt, Paget and Ceglar traveled to Indianapolis, Ind., to present Finish Line executives with a proposal to improve Finish Line sales among teens. Their presentation was chosen as the best in the country, and as a result their trip to nationals is already paid for.

Students began working on their DECA presentations in November and they've been fine-tuning ever since. Students who qualified for nationals will continue to work for the next several weeks, cramming for a test that counts for one-third of their score, perfecting presentations and preparing for role-playing exercises.

The 10-person contingent for nationals is pretty typical for the Rosemount DECA program, but DECA advisor Ryan Harrison said he likes his students' chances this year.

"This is about as strong of a group, if not stronger than we've ever taken before," Harrison said.

Part of that is probably due to good leadership. Harrison brought home an award of his own from this year's state competition. The RHS business teacher, in his 11th year as DECA advisor, was presented with the DECA Outstanding Service Award. The award goes to a DECA advisor who has gone "above and beyond" for five or more years.

"I was shocked. I never would have envisioned receiving this just because the names of some of the other recipients are so impressive," Harrison said. "To be put into that category is truly an honor.

"I was truly speechless, and that's rare," he said.

Harrison was recognized for the work he puts in before and after school and on weekends. He also puts a lot of work into organizing a sub-district competition every year at RHS.

Harrison said he's still trying to figure out who nominated him.

Other successes

Only 10 RHS students qualified for nationals, but several others had success at the state competition. Students who qualified for the state finals are: Kristen Farris, Joe Funk, Mary Gao, Matt Hamm, Nicolette Sorenson, Stefanie Knight, Erica Larson, Landon Medvec, Shane O'Brien, Cory Pederson and Jen Saunders.

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