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All hands on DECA at East Hall Middle
Student marketing group advances to national competition, but needs help getting there
The East Hall Middle School DECA team was the first ever middle school team to compete in the state DECA competition, held recently. Team members, from left, are Kevin Thompson, Amber Tyner, Khian Skidmore, Cheyenne McKinzie and Jeffery Moss.

East Hall Middle School DECA

If you are interested in learning more about the East Hall Middle School DECA team and its fundraising efforts, contact their advisor Seth Hutchinson at Checks made payable to East Hall Middle School can be mailed to the school at 4120 East Hall Road, Gainesville, GA 30505. The check should include a note earmarking the funds for the DECA trip.

During the first year on many teams, members are focused more on building a firm foundation than they are on winning.

Yet the members of the East Hall Middle School DECA team, a student business and marketing organization, have proven that you can establish roots and soar to victory in the same inaugural season.

“This year, we were the first eighth-graders to compete in the (state-level) Career Development Conference. Two of them qualified to move on to the next level of competition, the International Career Development Conference,” said Seth Hutchinson, marketing teacher and DECA adviser.

“At first I was kind of nervous, but then (Hutchinson) said for us to just relax and to enjoy the experience,” said Amber Tyner, an East Hall eighth-grader whose business operations research project earned a second-place award.

“I was confident going into the competition, but I honestly didn’t think that I would do as well as I did since there were so many older kids there.”

This academic year was the first time that a Hall County middle school offered students the Marketing Principles class and DECA membership.

“Like a lot of career tech subjects, this has flowed from the workplace, to colleges, down into the high schools and now the middle school level,” Hutchinson said.

“The traditional academic subjects normally start teaching something in the kindergarten years and then moves up a year until the students finish in high school or college. In this case, I started with the 12th grade because I thought the projects were so big and difficult.

“Since that time about six years ago, I’ve moved down a year pretty consistently until I got here to eighth grade. Every year, they’ve proven to me that the younger students can do this work.”

In the class, the students are learning about the “fun side of business” — sales, customer service and product development. DECA competitions allows them to demonstrate their knowledge. 

For the state competition, the students had to write a 30-page paper and create a 15-minute presentation on their chosen topics.

Khian Skidmore decided to create an anti-cyberbullying public relations campaign. After researching his topic, he found ways to implement his strategies at school, including organizing a special assembly and launching a competition to engage his peers.

“We had the students send in slogans they thought were good, and the winner received a $10 gift card,” said Khian, whose project placed second in the state.

“The winner was ‘Delete Digital Drama.’ I chose cyberbullying because I’d been cyberbullied myself and didn’t like it,” he said. “I also saw on the news that it was getting bad and some kids were thinking about committing suicide, so we wanted to try and decrease the rates of cyberbullying.”

Since Hutchinson also is the East Hall High School DECA adviser, the two East Hall schools have a joint DECA team. Besides Amber and Khian’s second-place finishes, ninth-grader Ross Stevens placed third in the financial literacy promotion category.

Middle-schooler Cheyenne McKinzie’s business speech placed in the top 10, while Jeffrey Moss and Kevin Thompson’s business operations research project placed in the top 15.

Amber, Khian and Ross Stevens are all eligible to compete at the international conference. They’re looking forward to making the trip to Salt Lake City, Utah, at the end of the month. 

The only thing standing in their way is raising about $1,200 each for the five-day, four-night trip.

“Not a lot of families have that much money just laying around, so we’re trying to do as much fundraising as we can,” Hutchinson said.

“Only five of our DECA chapter’s previous 14 state winners have gone on to compete. It’s an optional trip, but I hope that our state winners will be able to attend.

“Two of this year’s state winners have a chance to make history again by becoming the first eighth-graders to ever compete at ICDC.”


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