Harrison DECA The pandemic that created social distancing has also brought together groups of Harrison High School students recently.

The issue:  Students in the High School of Business program offered by Great Oaks Career Campuses at Harrison qualified for state DECA business and marketing competition, but since the event is virtual, they needed to record their presentations.  Compounding the challenge was their success; more than 130 students or groups qualified for state.

That’s when Great Oaks instructor Trevor Ward and Harrison High School TV Production instructor Mike Morris got together to ensure that every qualified student who wanted to participate in the Ohio DECA competition could do so.   Through planning, early mornings, many hours of student time, and huge spreadsheets, over 130 videotaped presentations were produced in a little more than two days.

“Scheduling was key,” said Ward.  “We started at 6 am and had to keep them moving.”

Art classes across the hall from the TV Production room were relocated for two days to create a space for competitors to prepare.  Students came early and stayed late.  Other teachers helped make sure that students would be ready for scheduled time slot.

And in a classroom studio with a sign on the door that says “Recording.  Do Not Enter. Do Not Knock” student groups came in, gave their state presentations, and made way for the next presenter.  They stopped long enough for the camera crews to video the morning announcements and then started up again.

Mike Morris, TV Production instructor, said that his students rose to the challenge. “Two of the four students working on the production crew, senior Kailey Egan and junior Shelby Young, are also DECA students.  They have knowledge of both sides of the project.  They know the rules and regulations of the DECA presentations, and they also understand what it takes from a production standpoint to make the live streaming happen.  This was a huge key to keeping the train on the tracks.”

Some of the presentations were particularly timely.  Abbey Coyle, Morgan Mundy, and Shelby Young put together a plan to regain spectators to Harrison football games even social distancing kept the school from filling the stadium.

All three are veterans of DECA competitions, and they said that the virtual version was a challenge.  “A lot of things have to go right in order for virtual to work,” said Mundy.  Abbey Coyle agreed.  “There was so much preparing to do.”

Shelby Young said the experience this year was different in another way.  “I like to talk to the judges face-to-face.”  Junior Eve King, who’s also a candidate for state DECA officer, said “It’s easier to compete live.  You can see and respond to the reactions of the judges.”

“This is all new to us,” said instructor Trevor Ward.  “We’re figuring it out as we go.”  In the end, the TV Production students helped out their classmates and gained additional experience, and business students are ready to test their knowledge and abilities against other top Ohio students through the DECA competition.