Tuesday, March 16, 2010

DECA And Another Dose Of Humble Pie

In the early 70's, Vocational Education was just coming into it's own in Ohio. The premise being to prepare students for a job, especially if they weren't necessarily geared towards going to college. I thought that would suit me just fine. I had no desire in high school to further my education.

I enrolled in Distributive Education and began classes my junior year. Distributive Education, better known as DE to those involved, had a tag line of "Developing future leaders for Marketing and Retail". We learned about a lot of facets of business and it was fairly easy if you paid attention. Another part of the program was obtaining a part-time job in the field of retail or marketing and your teacher would follow-up with your employer on your development.

I worked in a grocery store and my boss never saw my teacher. Too bad, I had a very young guy for a boss and I had him all primed for the visit from my teacher. He was going to tell my teacher what an excellent employee I was and what a fine example of today's youths I was. Yeah right, he wasn't going to tell him we split a six-pack in the parking lot some nights when we clocked out. I did learn quite a bit about running a grocery store, stocking shelves, ordering merchandise, preparing produce, and sweeping the floors. I pushed a pretty mean Dry Mop. We had contests to see who could do it the best and the fastest. It helped stem the boredom.

My class of about fifteen students was mostly a collection of misfits from the junior class. Better known as non-conformists, they could bring a weak teacher to the point of tears. The year before, the Senior DE Class caused the instructor to have a nervous breakdown and he quit half way through the school year. That's when Mr. Frank entered the picture. A burly, no-nonsense kind of guy, he quickly turned the program around and got students involved in all aspects of Distributive Education and got them to participate in DECA. DECA was the Club Portion of DE and had competitions on the local, regional, and state level.

Every student was required to select a contest to participate in. My choice was Job Interview, where a mock job interview was conducted with an area Personnel Director and you were judged on appearance,inter-personal skills, knowledge of the job, and aptitude. Apparently, I knew how to dazzle them and I made it to the state competition in Columbus. a couple of my classmates also advanced and had quite the weekend at a Sheraton Hotel in Ohio's Capitol. I won at the state level and I must have made an impression on the Head Muckity- Mucks of the DECA Program. They convinced me to run for Student President of Ohio.

I first had to be elected President of my Region. I won that one hands down, mainly because my competition of three others showed little enthusiasm. I gave a "Fire And Brimstone" kind of speech. One that Jimmy Swaggert would have been proud of.

Part of the responsibility of the job was to visit all the other Deca Schools in my region of Northeast Ohio at least once a month. I then had a monthly meeting with the adult DECA staff, including The State Director of Vocational Education. I complained at a meeting that my principal would not always let me out of school to visit other schools in my region. the State Director immediately placed a phone call to my principal and read him "The Riot Act". My red-faced Principal called me in his office to tell me I could leave school when ever necessary, I didn't even have to ask! Of course, I never abused the privilege, not me...all I can say is it's amazing how the golf courses are deserted on weekday afternoons.

I had to pass an interview with a panel in Columbus to run for State President. I was ill-prepared and arrogant with my answers. I didn't study about who all the Muckity-Mucks were by name and knew before I left I choked at my chance. Another dose of Humble Pie, served up hot and fresh!

My Senior year consisted of three regular classes of English, Math, and History and then I left school at 11:00 A.M. to go to my part-time job. Surprisingly, I was offered a full scholarship to Kent State if I would major in Distributive Education. At the time, I had no interest in doing that and turned it down. I had a full-time job waiting for me upon graduation, so I thought I was all set. Funny how life turns out, a year later I was enrolled at Youngstown State University, majoring in Business and EDUCATION.

1 comment:

  1. I'm all in favor of today's blurring of the lines of The DECA Kids, The Smart Kids, The Motor Heads, The Popular Kids. I was a Smart Kid and I married a DECA Kid and ironically he is the brainiac in our family. There were too many labels and pigeonholes in our day.