Copperas Cove High School DECA students are ready to compete Saturday morning and put their skills to the test at the DECA 5 District Conference, which draws more than 1,200 students. Fewer than 500 will advance to the state contest in Dallas in February.

Cove is hosting the district contest for the third time in four years under the leadership of CCHS student Ashley Wilson, the DECA District V vice president, and local chapter adviser, Charlotte Heinze.

“These students have worked very hard all year, and I am expecting them to do an excellent job,” Heinze said. “But, I also know that competition will be very tough this year, as we have had an increase of roughly 400 students competing at this year’s district conference, so they need to be as prepared as possible.”

Twenty-two different teams consisting of one to three members compete in a variety of categories including business law, ethics, team decision-making, hospitality, and tourism operations.

“We have a lot of competitors going into these events for the first time and some great projects along with them,” Heinze said. “I expect a great turnout.”

DECA members Sarah Stephans, Luke Avritt and Kaleb Honts are tackling some difficult subject matter — teen/youth suicide — and have been taking their program through Copperas Cove Independent School District’s high school, elementary and middle schools where, statistically, suicides occur at those ages.

The team also partnered with the Copperas Cove Five Hills royalty in hosting a candlelight walk to bring awareness to the community.

“DECA has been such an experience for me, learning to speak well and learning to interact with people from all diverse backgrounds,” Stephans said. “My project about suicide prevention and awareness has been challenging and inspirational, speaking to people about suicide and its effects.”

CCHS DECA member Jayda Carter and Wilson are running for district and state offices and will present speeches while campaigning at the conference in an effort to secure their positions.

“District competition is something that I have been looking forward to since I was reelected last year. I am even more excited to be a part of hosting competition for new DECA members as well as carrying on the exciting tradition for returning members,” Wilson said. “Being one of the District V officers has been an amazing experience which has come with hard work and dedication, but it has been totally worth it.”

Last year, CCHS qualified 27 students for the DECA International Conference, several of them finalists on the international stage and three taking third place in the nation in their event.

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