With the county growing rapidly, so too are Forsyth County Schools’ programs.
In order to accommodate the increasing number of aspiring business and marketing students, the county recently held Region 8A’s DECA competition — the first-ever that included only schools in Forsyth County and that had every school represented.
DECA, a marketing and business club, has chapters in high schools and colleges throughout the world.
“It really focuses on marketing, hospitality and other CTSOs,” said Valery Lowe, director of College and Career Development for the district.
The event, which was held Thursday at the First Baptist Church in Cumming, featured more than 200 DECA students from the county’s five high schools.
Several students from South Forsyth Middle School also participated, and about 60 community members judged the event.
Amanda Sheridan, a career tech teacher at Lambert High School, was largely responsible for organizing Thursday’s event.
In the past, Lowe said, the county has held regional competitions, but none as concise, countywide unit.
“The region event starts the momentum to get students [hyped up] to win,” Lowe said.
Winners and qualifiers from Thursday’s competition will move on to Georgia DECA’s statewide competition, which will be held in Atlanta, Feb. 16-18.
Those who win statewide will travel to California in April for the national competition.
“This was a great way to start the year out,” said Lowe. “What’s most important is the ability for middle and high schoolers to gain leadership and entrepreneurship skills, which are transportable to any career, later in life. [Thursday] really couldn’t have worked out better.”
Founded in 1946, DECA has “impacted the lives of more than 10 million students, educators, school administrators and business professionals,” a news release said.
The organization prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management.
Lowe said DECA largely focuses on creating future entrepreneurs and career leaders.
CTSOs, or Career and Technical Student Organizations, are “co-curricular organizations with leadership programs and competitive events which reflect current curriculum standards and competencies for the instructional programs they serve.”
Lowe said DECA, which is considered a CTSO, is important even for those who are not looking for a career in business or marketing.
“It develops strong leadership skills that are lifelong,” she said. “Our programs are known across the world and we’re very much on the map.
Other states try to compete with Forsyth County, and South Forsyth High School has one of the largest DECA memberships in the world.”
In 2014 at the international competition, the school was named the world’s largest DECA chapter, with 1,111 members.