DECA students attend conference

DECA participants Max Van Lith and Marco Keech. (Empire Press photo/Suzanne Robinson)


By Suzanne Robinson
Empire Press Correspondent

DECA participant Colin Poppie. (Empire Press photo/Suzanne Robinson)

Three Waterville High School DECA students attended the annual State Career Development Conference March 1-3 in Bellevue.

Marco Keech, Max Van Lith and Colin Poppie had worked very hard on a business plan for Waterville and made it through to the state competition. Over 3,500 students throughout the state were in attendance.

The business startup that the three worked on was to open a gym in Waterville. Part of their work was to research a building or other location and come up with a marketing plan for the business. After their work was complete, they put together their business plan for presentation in competition.

The mission statement for Washington DECA, according to its website, is to “provide business and leadership opportunities to high school students to succeed in school, careers and life.” Its vision is to “prepare innovative leaders and entrepreneurs who make a positive social and global impact.”

DECA clubs in the state are divided into areas with each area’s teams competing to win the opportunity to attend the state conference. Being able to compete on the state level is a major accomplishment in itself. Washington DECA is one of the largest and most competitive associations in the nation, according to State DECA President Jonathan Wilson.

Waterville junior Marco Keech said one of the highlights of the conference for him was “dressing professionally.” The dress code throughout the conference was suit and tie for the boys and skirts for the girls. It made him feel like a real professional.

Max Van Lith, also a junior, said the highlight for him was the community and getting to know students throughout the state. He and his teammates have developed friendships beyond Waterville. This was Van Lith’s second year of competing at the state level.

Junior Colin Poppie also participated at the state level for the second year in a row. He was glad to be able to compete again and to see what Waterville was capable of.

Student advisor Cody Brunner said he was very proud of the Waterville team and their hard work. The team came in 16th out of 52 teams and was only 8.1 points away from going on to the national competition.

For more information on Washington DECA, visit