A North Forsyth High School student has taken on a large responsibility that will continue next school year.
Taylor Wingard, a rising senior, was elected the state level president of DECA, a marketing club for high school students, this past winter.
Wingard also served as president of the local chapter in 2010-11.
North's DECA club sponsor teacher, Kathy Kemp, said Wingard helped drive the local group to greater levels of success at state and national competitions this school year.
“Taylor’s leadership was an integral part of North Forsyth doing so well this year,” she said. “He ... had high expectations for the officers and himself.”
At the national DECA competition, North had two groups of students make it to the top 10, Kemp explained. Overall, the school had 23 students place during the state level competition, allowing them to advance to nationals.
One duo, Chelby Coley and Kaitlin Ramspeck, placed third at nationals with a project that benefitted the Humane Society of Forsyth County.
Several other groups or individuals scored in the top 20 percent of their respective project categories.
At state, North’s contingent received three overall chapter awards. Several students also placed first, second or third in their project categories.
The chapter also garnered an award for having the third highest membership of any chapter in Georgia.
Kemp said Wingard was an integral part of all the students’ successes.
“He helped students that had questions about their competition manuals and boards," she said. "He hosted a DECA presentation party, where we all gave input about presentations and how to improve."
Wingard, who’s been a part of North’s DECA club since his freshman year, has been involved in other activities, but said nothing captured his interest quite like the marketing organization.
“Going into marketing appealed to me more than anything because it’s so real," he said. "Marketing is an everyday thing and DECA does truly prepare us for the future.
“You don’t have to the smartest kid in school to be successful in DECA. That’s something else that I really like. I have friends that DECA is one of the main things keeping them in school.”
The organization places a large focus on community service, which also appealed to Wingard.
For his own personal DECA project this year, Wingard organized several efforts to raise money for handicapped-accessible playground equipment at Coal Mountain Elementary School and raise awareness of autism.
His efforts included organizing a community 5K run/walk, as well as smaller fundraisers for students at North.
Those included cupcake sales, vehicle window washes and staff jean days, where teachers paid $10 to wear blue jeans to work.
Overall, Wingard’s project raised more than $5,000 for the playground equipment and earned him a first-place community service award at DECA state competition.
As Georgia president, he’s also led some successful statewide programs.
He said he and other executive officers organized a breast cancer awareness program, which raised about $19,000 and broke a Georgia DECA record.
“Schools only had two months to work on it, so we were really excited with the results,” he said.
On the agenda for next school year, Wingard said he hopes to establish a scholarship fund for DECA students with disabilities.
“I’d like to see that in place by February,” he said.
After high school, Wingard plans to focus on sports marketing in college. He eventually hopes to work with the Orlando Magic professional basketball team.
But he probably won’t be finished with DECA once he graduates in 2012. He’s contemplating a bid for national office with the organization.
He said that process is similar to national politics.
“It’s just like a political campaign,” he said. “I’d love to run because I can’t do much more high school-wise and this would be kind of a last step.”
He said would most likely seek the role of national president, a post that requires a lot of travel.
“So I would probably have to do online classes or maybe a limited number of classes my first year of college, but I think it would worth it for the experience,” Wingard said.
Kemp believes he definitely has what it would take to be a national officer.
“Taylor does not wait for others to get things done,” she said. “He sees something that needs to get done and he just does it. When Taylor was busy with his own DECA projects, he took time out to help others and helping others succeed is critical for a leader.
“Everything Taylor does reflects leadership.”