DECA and Puma Den earn national food and retail certification 


Rob Lange

DECA officers Noah Kang, Cooper Lieurance, Sean Hadden, Yeijn Sohn (DECA President), and Emily Anasagasti (AZ DECA State Officer) celebrate receiving national certifications

DECA’s purpose is to prepare future leaders interested in business after high school, whether it be college path or a career path. DECA and the Puma Den worked to earn the highest national DECA certifications (Gold) in both food and retail, being the only student store to receive both in the nation. There were several levels of recognition with varying degrees of difficulty, including gold, silver, and bronze. This certification qualifies DECA for the ICDC, the International Career and Development Competition, where they will be able to present the Puma Den for a chance to win. Competing on an international level offers a unique opportunity for the members of DECA.

This project was a hands-on experience for the students, as they were working in the store and learning to be valuable employees. The club members running the store developed better management and leadership skills. For the members in DECA, Advisor Rob Lange stated, “The students are responsible for the entire certification process…I walk them through all the details and help with questions, but they have to take it from there. They earned this honor.” This helps DECA officers develop better management and employment skills from an interpersonal and operational perspective. 

The certification process requires the school store to change problems that might affect it from running properly. Lange said, “It forces us to continually improve our standards of operation from money management, product order, to customer service.” The process of writing, examining, and applying what they have learned equates to better services and goods for the Puma Den customers. 

The certification process requires a School-Based Enterprise Chapter Certification Project, which proves the students meet the national curriculum standards in marketing, finance, hospitality or management. DECA officer Sean Kang said the certifications, “really gives us a good name and helps us basically prove ourselves.” The certification process requires an assessment of the: financial analysis, operations, marketing-information management, market planning, product/service management, pricing, distribution/channel management, promotion, selling, and human resources management. 

The certifications are a great acknowledgment for DECA. DECA President Yejin Sohn stated, “It gets us recognition on a national level. We also get special treatment. The certifications are given out for recognition, so it’s a big part of what DECA values in a chapter.” The students have been working towards getting certified since the first day of online school this year. DECA hopes to develop the Puma Den with the feedback they received, and receive the Double-Gold certification for the Puma Den next year.