States from Home: LRHS DECA Take On Competition amid Pandemic


Courtesy of the Lakeland Live Feed

“Dressed for success!” LRHS DECA members dressed up and were ready to compete from their own homes.

12 members of Lakeland Regional High School’s DECA club competed in the state competition from February 8 to February 10, 2021. This year, the  competition was impacted by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, having to do all of it virtually. 

In an interview with The Ledger, Ms. Ornella Incardona, the advisor of LRHS DECA, said,COVID had a huge impact on our DECA chapter…Less students signed up due to the fact that the competitions were virtual. We held virtual meetings to practice for the competitions, however, it was very difficult to practice the role plays virtually.  Under normal circumstances the club meets every week before competition to practice for the test and the role plays.”

Mrs. Incardona, along with DECA president and senior Connor Kennedy, both emphasized the huge impact of having no human interaction with the judges or other people involved in the competition.

With Covid-19 going on, we were not able to meet face to face with the judges,” Kennedy said. “So little things like shaking hands and eye contact were taken away. Even though little interactions like these seem minuscule, they are actually a huge part of DECA presentations and help competitors establish  a sort of relationship with the judge.” 

Ms. Incardona agreed with this, stating that the competitors “missed the human interaction,” and that doing practice and competitions behind a screen was not comparable to in-person activities.

DECA or Distributive Education Clubs of America, allows students to participate in different roles in business scenarios. During a normal year, competitions involve competitors presenting real life business scenarios in front of judges and they get graded on their ideas and execution.

After making it to the national competition last year, Lakeland had a lot of preparation to do for this year’s competition. Excluding the already extreme impact of COVID-19, the competition is very difficult. Kennedy explained that only eight competitors from each topic are allowed to move onto the national competition. This makes moving on quite the hard task on a normal year, and in one which has been ravaged by a pandemic, it makes it even more challenging.

Even though Lakeland didn’t make it as far as they had hoped in the competition, there were still many things to be proud of this past year. 

“I’m so proud of their perseverance, despite being faced with so much adversity this year,” Ms. Incardona said. “In my eyes they are all winners.”