We Are DeKalb County School District Winter 2018 - Page 17

Nwogu isn’t alone in being inspired by things he learned in DECA, a co-curricular program focused on leadership, entrepreneurship, marketing and management. Just ask Sarah Gagnier, a senior at Dunwoody High School. Through DECA, she has honed her leadership skills and recruited freshmen, sophomores, juniors and other seniors to the program, which is in its inaugural year at Dunwoody. “DECA has allowed me to connect with people who I wouldn’t have otherwise had the chance to meet or interact with,” Gagnier said. “It’s given me a lot of opportunities to practice real-life skills such as leadership and marketing. It’s been great—having DECA is a chance to interact, make friends and branch out.” Gagnier chose to join DECA after watching her sister succeed in the program and go on to attend the Terry School of Business at the University of Georgia—a feat Sarah hopes to mirror when she graduates later this school year. A Club That Encourages Success Gagnier and Nwogu are leaders in an emerging program that now reaches more than 800 DeKalb County School District (DCSD) students and shows no signs of stopping. DECA has taken root in 13 DCSD high schools in the 2017-2018 school year, marking a 10-school increase from last year, when just Columbia, Stephenson and Warren Tech offered DECA to students. This year, it has expanded to include Cedar Grove, Lakeside, Lithonia, Miller Grove, Redan, Chamblee, Dunwoody, Southwest DeKalb, Clarkston, and Druid Hills. According to Career Technical & Agricultural Education Instructional Coordinator Marilynn Hollis, students in the program get first-hand experience in four concentrations: entrepreneurship, hospitality and tourism, finance, and business management. Students run the program as they would a business, complete with leadership, meetings, social activities, competition and community service. Hollis said DECA students’ coursework as well as their afterschool activities focus on such disciplines in an effort to encourage creativity, leadership, self-awareness and self-reliance. >>> Winter 2018 | 17