Students attend DECA conference

Faculty advisor Steven Knemeyer poses with the team that went to the DECA State Career Development Conference in Bellevue Feb. 28-March 2.. Team members include Travis Prey, Colin Poppie and Marco Keech. (Empire Press photo/Karen Larsen)


By Karen Larsen
Empire Press Correspondent

Colin Poppie, Marco Keech and Travis Prey give their presentation on a business plan for an Italian restaurant in Walla Walla at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Bellevue on March 1. (Provided photo/Steven Knemeyer)

Waterville High School seniors Colin Poppie, Marco Keech and Travis Prey attended the Washington DECA State Career Development Conference (SCDC) in Bellevue Feb. 28 to March 2.

The three members of the Waterville chapter of the group earned their spot at the conference by developing a detailed business plan for a hypothetical Italian restaurant to be located in Walla Walla. The students submitted their written project and were awarded points for it that qualified them to attend the state conference.

In order to develop their plan, which was 20 pages in length, the boys researched real estate, learned about their business’ competition and even prepared menus. They had to complete all of the research that a potential business owner would do before opening a business.

Groups that attended this year’s SCDC presented their business plans to judges on March 1. In all, about 4,000 students from across the state took part in the conference.

Poppie, Keech and Prey have been active with DECA for most of their high school careers. For Poppie and Prey, it is the third time to present a business plan at SCDC. It was the second time for Keech.

All three of the students have a certain level of interest in business, which has been cultivated by their involvement in DECA. Poppie wants to major in business and Prey wants to minor in business. Keech wants to attend culinary school. With a goal to get into culinary journalism, it is possible that business knowledge may be useful along his career path.

Poppie said that DECA helped him to be more interested in business as a career.

“I got to see what business is actually like,” he said.

Prey agreed, saying, “I got to see what it’s like to do business with actual business people.”

Steven Knemeyer, the business marketing teacher at Waterville High School, is the advisor of the DECA chapter at the school. Knemeyer went to SCDC with the students as did Ashlee Prey, who is Travis Prey’s mother. Ashlee Prey has been involved with the Waterville chapter as a test proctor.

Knemeyer said that SCDC helps students to see that business might be an approachable career option for them.

He added that this year the judge of the Waterville High School students’ presentation was a banker from Walla Walla, so it was a good fit in relation to the proposed location of the Italian restaurant.

He said that conversations with the banker were enriching for the three boys.

“They’re able to find out what it’s really like to do business,” he said.

Waterville DECA paid for the conference out of funds from the club account.