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As Kannah Greer and Jacob Schlottmann-McGonigle stepped to the stage, they were ecstatic knowing they made the top eight at the State DECA competition in Portland.

To them, getting on stage was a significant accomplishment, a news release said. Little did they know, they would go on to win first place in the Hospitality Services Team Decision Making Series.

Both Klamath Union and Henley High Schools fared well in the recent DECA competition. Henley DECA had 26 students competing and 12 were called on stage as top finishers. KU had 21 students competing, with many of the team first-year members. The competition was Feb. 24-26 in Portland.

DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) is an organization that develops emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and business management. It provides students with the opportunity to learn how to speak, use critical thinking and develop business skills.

Schlottmann said, “Winning first was one of the best moments in my life. I have set school records in swimming, placed at the state cross country meet, but DECA is different. You always have to be ready because you never know what scenario you will get in the competition. In sports, you can prepare for your competition, but in DECA, it just comes at you.”

Both schools prepared for the state conference since the beginning of the school year. Over the course of five months, KU and Henley DECA clubs completed numerous community service projects, practice competitions and research projects all in preparation for this event.

KU DECA advisor, Nat Ellis, said, “Watching competitors learn about their success is the best part.”

Ellis said, “When you see your members win trophies, it is worth the hard work. I was so proud of this team to practice as hard as they did, then support each other in the end. The team of Greer and Schlottmann was impressive. They have great chemistry working together and can create outstanding business solutions in a short amount of time. Their win sealed the trip as a success. To see DECA members work hard and realize what they can do if they work together is what DECA is all about.”

Ellis added, “Greer was our top competitor this year. She was simply amazing. She placed third in a written project that earned a super high score. Her near flawless presentation was topped by a perfect score from another team. All you can do is your best and she did that.”

KU will send three students to the international competition in Orlando, Fla., in April: Kannah Greer, Jacob Schlottmann and Brady Monteith.

KU highlights

n Greer and Schlottmann — 1st Overall Hospitality Tourism Team Decision, 1st Case Study;

n Greer — 3rd Test Medal Quick Serve Restaurant Management;

n Greer — 3rd — Hospitality and Tourism Operations Research;

n Schlottmann, Dillon Taylor, Annie Campbell — 3rd Place Learn and Earn;

n Khrystina Dawes and Elizabeth Hernandez-Perez — 4th Place Community Service Project;

n Schlotmann — 7th Overall Quick Serve Restaurant Management;

n Brady Monteith — 8th Overall Quick Serve Restaurant Management;

n Taylor — Top 8 Hospitality Tourism Exam;

n Taylor — 3rd Place Test — Quick Serve Restaurant Management;

Klamath Union was awarded Third Place Chapter of the Year. Greer was also elected as the Oregon DECA Vice President of Career Development.

Henley highlights

n Henley DECA was awarded Gold Level Membership Growth, awarded to chapters who grew by 30 percent or more this year;

n Mitul Patel was elected to the position of Oregon DECA Vice President of Marketing, the second-highest position in the state;

n Anna Edwards — 4th Place in Quick Serve Restaurant Management;

n Rose Burris — 12th Place in Business Finance.

n Senior Brianna Eichelkraut — 12th Place in Entrepreneurship;

n Sophomore Beau Stork — 11th Place in Automotive Services Marketing and 15th Place in Sports and Entertainment Marketing;

n Madison Garlitz and Bridget Vargas — 6th Place in Travel and Tourism Team Decision Making;

n Dylan Huynh and Andrew Wilcher — 8th Place in Sports and Entertainment Marketing Team Decision Making;

n DJ Hall and Mitul Patel — 11th Place in Hospitality Services Team Decision Making;

n Randolph Duran and Josh Huynh — 15th Place in Buying and Merchandising Team Decision Making.

Gerry OBrien, Editor