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You are in management, and your employees are spending work hours visiting social media websites for personal use. What do you do?

That was the situation facing Kacy Eaton, Josh Pennington, and Jay Smith, members of the Clay High School DECA Chapter sports entertainment team, at the Independent Association of DECA Competition at the University of Findlay.

“The students had to think of ideas on how to decrease personal use of those technologies while also making sure to keep employee morale high,” Clay DECA teacher Vallie Robeson said.

DECA-IA-Comp
The Clay DECA Team — first row (left to right) – Jillian Keller and Emilie Roman.
Second row – Kacy Eaton, Courtney Quinlan, Lily Mominee, Corey Greenblat,
Ashley Selee, and Jared Jacob. Third row – Haley Kubicki, Jennifer Lucas,
Cassidy Coughlin, and Jordan Briones. Fourth row – Jay Smith, Kyle Row, Joshua
Pennington, Spencer Perlaky, and Dylan Dusza.

Eaton, Pennington, and Smith must have come up with the right solution, because they won first place at the marketing education competition.

“We had to find a way to either get rid of it completely, or let them use it in a productive way, or give them a certain amount of time of day to use it on their own for personal use,” Smith said.

What was the Clay team’s solution?

“We had a Wi-Fi proxy, so that you had a password, and once you signed in, you only had an hour a day to use it on your personal time until that hour is up, then it’s locked up and you can’t use it anymore,” Smith said.

All 17 Clay students competing placed first in Findlay. They were among 150 students from seven vocational districts — Port Clinton, Fostoria, Vanguard, Whitmer, Napoleon, Findlay, and Clay.

Other Clay winners were:
• Dylan Dusza, Spencer Perlaky, and Ashley Selee — business services team

• Jordan Briones, Haley Kubicki, and Jennifer Lucas — buying and merchandising team

• Jared Jacob — employability

• Cassidy Coughlin, Jillian Keller, and Kyle Row — hospitality team

• Corey Greenblat — public relations

• Lily Mominee, Courtney Quinlan, and Emilie Roman — travel and tourism team

“They just did a really great job,” Robeson said. “I was very happy. Realistically, there were only four more events that we did not compete in, but we basically swept all of the competition from that perspective.

“They do put a lot of time into it, and they do take it very seriously since it is their first competition. They like to do as best as they can, but they did a really great job preparing for it inside of class and outside. So, most of them did a local business interview to ask them about their policies and how they handle their employees to get the real world perspective as well.”

All 17 Clay students now have the opportunity to compete at district competition January 27 at Bowling Green State University. Those winners advance to state and then international competition in Atlanta, Georgia in May, which is the ultimate goal.

After learning their case study, the students have a half hour to come up with a solution and then make a presentation to judges, who are industry professionals.

Smith says his team was feeling pretty good about where they would place after completing their presentation.

“We were really confident,” Smith said. “Once we finished, we thought we did really well as a group. Then, once we got the results we were pleasantly surprised. We weren’t surprised, like ‘Oh, man, we thought we weren’t going to get it,’ but we were happy we did.

“Ms. Robeson prepares us really well. We go through multiple studies during class and we practice what we are going to do for more of a general sense, and then we plug in more specifics into that as you go on.”

The fact that every Clay DECA member followed suit in winning first place is even better, Smith says.

“It’s awesome, really impressive. We all work together as a class and we work really well, so I knew that it was definitely possible,” Smith said.

At the competition, Jacob participated in a mock interview while Greenblat completed a test and interview. Greenblat’s competition included an incentive — it was the first step for those with aspirations of becoming president of the Ohio student office for DECA.

“He went on to compete for that office,” Robeson said. “He passed through screening and he went to Columbus in November for that election, and although he didn’t win that election we believe he placed second.”

This was these students’ first interscholastic DECA competition, but Clay has always done well historically in DECA events.

Robeson, a 2002 Clay graduate, competed under long time DECA teacher Anna Diekman, who retired two years ago.

After college, Robeson student-taught under Maumee DECA instructor Ann Hale. Robeson then taught at Bucyrus four years before returning to her alma mater when Diekman retired. Robeson admits that following in Diekman’s shoes will be a challenge.

“They have always had a strong DECA program,” Robeson said. “It’s a little daunting, but I was really excited and the students showed up and we’ve been keeping that tradition going.”

At the district competition, one of the schools Clay students will be competing against will be Maumee and Robeson’s former mentor, Hale. Hale is actually a Penta County Vocational School instructor, but since Clay has its own technology and career center, Robeson is an employee of Oregon Schools.

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