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The DECA Program is in its eighth year at Hamilton Wenham and has over 250 members. The program is led by Business Teacher Laura Wheeler with student leaders–Senior Officers and Ambassadors–who prepare the team for competition and mentor members through their DECA experience. Additional support is provided by Assistant Advisors Julie Cahill-O'Shea and Johanna Wilson. For more information, email 

What exactly is DECA?
DECA is an organization of high school students focused on building transferable skills for college and careers. Students gain a variety of experience through workshops, speakers, leadership opportunities, and DECA competition. DECA is what YOU want it to be.

What are transferable skills?
These are skills you learn in one place that can transfer to another place. You are learning these skills in school to transfer them to the job world. They include public speaking, communication, active listening, organization, creativity, decision-making, and interpersonal skills. Interpersonal skills, like teamwork, are focused on having positive interactions and relationships with other people. Transferable skills apply to everyone, no matter what job or career you choose to enter! 

The main DECA experience is competition. It may sound scary, but don’t be intimidated! Every year in December, Hamilton Wenham DECA attends a district competition with surrounding schools. Competition is very low pressure and does not require a lot of preparation, especially for roleplays. Competition is what you make of it. There will be times to practice during powerblocks and after school. Competition has two main categories:

  • Roleplays: students solve a business problem. You read the role play, prepare notes, and then meet one-on-one with a judge. Most first-year members will do SOLO role plays in Principles that are only for first-year members. 

  • Written Projects: As a first-year member, you cannot do a project without special permission from Ms. Wheeler.

What does competition look like as a first-year member?

  • Test: 100-question multiple choice test before competition, the week after Thanksgiving, during the school day. This test is meant to be challenging! A good score is 50-80! Sample text questions are on DECA+. 

  • Roleplay: a case study with a judge at competition in December during the school day. We return before the end of school so all students can attend after-school activities or take their regular bus home. 
    Individuals: 10 min prep time/MAX 10 min present time
    Teams: 30 min prep time/MAX 15 min presentation

Preparation: Study your topic and practice role plays. Try some test questions. DECA+ has prep materials for every category. We hold a mock competition where you can try a real roleplay and get feedback in a low-pressure environment!

Additional Ways to Qualify for ICDC
Optional ways  to qualify for ICDC and to stay active and involved in DECA include:

  • Stock Market Game
  • Virtual Business Challenge
  • State T-shirt Design
  • State Pin Design
  • Cover Design
  • Hat Design
  • Meme Challenge
  • Video Challenge

All of these events can earn you spots at ICDC in Anaheim, California, and will be posted in our Google Classroom page. Other in-school events like the speaker series are great opportunities to learn and build skills aside from competition!

DECA Time Commitment
Your time commitment can vary based on how much you want to put into DECA. Preparation for Districts, States, and ICDC looks different for everyone. Some types of competition require more preparation than others. Some basic time commitments may include:

  • Mandatory Meetings: All team meeting in September, Orientation in October, State Qualifier meeting in January, ICDC qualifier meeting in March
  • Competition testing the week after Thanksgiving
  • Attendance at Districts in December
  • Optional: competition prep, mock competition, skills meetings, speaker series, etc. 

Important Dates

  • Districts (Danvers): December 13th Role Plays OR December 14th Written Projects
  • States (Boston): March 7-9, 2024
  • ICDC (Anaheim, CA): April 27–May 1, 2024

DECA Costs: Membership Fee $100
The membership fee includes:  

  • DECA Membership on the Chapter, District, State, and International level
  • HW DECA Activities at the school including team building, speaker series, skills workshops, and role play practice events
  • HW DECA team t-shirt
  • DECA+ Membership for building skills and preparing for competition
  • District Competition fees and transportation

Are there any other fees this year for DECA? 
Your membership fee includes everything you need to fully participate and compete in DECA through the Chapter and District levels. Additional opportunities have an added cost: 

  • State Conference in Boston (2 nights) $550
  • International Career Development Conference (ICDC) in Anaheim, CA (5 nights) $1,500. Fundraising allows many students to attend for less than half the cost or even free!

The costs above are estimates–actual costs may vary. These additional trips are optional and you must qualify through competition for the State Conference and ICDC. 

DECA Club photo




Congratulations to all DECA members that participated in the District 3 Career Development Conference this week. I am incredibly proud of each and every one of you for showing up, doing your best, and making the most of your DECA experience. Hamilton Wenham DECA had a phenomenal night––117 students qualified for the State Conference! 

See the full results here: HW DECA Districts Results 2023–2024

deca students at nationals
photo of deca students at Nationals
photo collage of students at the DECA competition
photo of DECA stock market game