It is a familiar lament to parents of high school students everywhere, most often heard in the late hours when homework is heavy and a test is on the horizon:
“Tell me,” the beleaguered student asks, “when will I ever use this information during the rest of my life?”
The parents of Durango High School seniors Jenna Engelken and Anna Joslin, and of DHS junior Ruby Epstein, may have heard questions along that line, but not in conjunction with the DECA project the girls have developed and put into action at their school.
DECA, which stood for Distributive Education Clubs of America when the organization was founded back in 1946, has grown to include some 200,000 student members in 3,500 high schools around the world.
At DHS, with guidance from staff advisor Dave Dillman, DECA students explore careers in marketing, management, finance, fashion merchandising and entrepreneurship. They also develop creative projects and compete for recognition across the state and internationally.
The Durango trio studied renewable energy and energy efficiency, and their 30-page “Kill-a-Watt” proposal, presented to the Durango School District 9-R board in December, is a winner, and the district is acting on it now.
By installing efficient LED lighting in the building and out in the parking lot, the girls project a $6,000 annual savings on the school’s electrical bill and a safer place to park at night. Their plan also describes steps any school can take to become more energy efficient, and calls for the creation of an environmental center at DHS.
“Kill-A-Watt” was awarded first place in the community service category at the DECA Colorado Conference in Colorado Springs in February. That means the girls are headed to the DECA International Career Development Conference in Anaheim, Calif., the last week of April with a chance to win at the highest level.
They will also meet thousands of fellow club members, engage with business leaders and learn about education and career opportunities in the U.S. and abroad.
With a boost from a worthwhile program that puts interested students on a fast track to business success, these girls are going places.