FEATURE, NEWS — October 9, 2020 at 11:10 am

MSD’s DECA in the Middle program connects with local middle school students

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The three DECA officers in charge of Middle School Relations practice their presentation before a meeting. Photo courtesy of Ziya Kassam

At Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, a program called DECA in the Middle has recently been introduced to both the high schoolers at MSD and local middle schoolers at Westglades Middle School. The sole purpose of the program is to educate middle schoolers on the basics of DECA. These students have the opportunity to learn about the Academy of Finance and Hospitality and Tourism programs offered at MSD.

Since building good middle school relations is important to the DECA program at MSD, there are three presiding officers that oversee and manage all aspects of DECA in the Middle. The Vice President of Middle School Relations is junior Ziya Kassam. The Co-Directors of Middle School Relations are sophomores Jordyn Klein and Alexis Presno.

“The purpose of DECA in the Middle is to educate young middle schoolers on what business is, and prepare them for the real world,” Kassam said. “We are trying to [encourage] students to join DECA at MSD once they reach high school. By doing this, they will learn more about life skills and business-related concepts.”

Originally, DECA in the Middle was created as a chapter project. Chapter projects provide an opportunity for DECA members at MSD to make a contribution to a community service or awareness initiative.

All Westglades and MSD DECA students are welcome to join the group. Currently, there are 100 members.

“DECA in the Middle gives skills to both Westglades Middle School and MSD students,” Klein said. “Middle school students get to build a connection with some of the high school DECA students while learning about important life lessons. Our goal is to keep everyone engaged and learning throughout this online year.”

Meetings are held every first and third Thursday of the month on Microsoft Teams, a team collaboration platform used by Broward County Public Schools. Members are notified of these meetings and any events through Remind, a messaging platform, and through @msddeca on Instagram or their website. Christina Gray, the DECA advisor at Westglades Middle School, also advertises the club through her classes.

“So far, we have had two successful meetings,” Kassam said. “The first one was an introduction of what DECA in the Middle was, and the second consisted of Kahoot [in which] the members learned about how to properly write a professional email.”

The three officers also plan to do more activities with the middle schoolers, like scavenger hunts. They are establishing a new branch in their program to connect the middle and high school students even more, called “Big Diamond, Little Diamond,” which will pair one individual from MSD with another individual from Westglades.

“I think DECA is going to be a great class and it is going to look good on my future resume,” Westglades student Brian Listopad said. “I am very excited to learn about DECA, and I hope I learn a lot by the end of the session.”

Though the DECA in the Middle program is only offered at Westglades Middle School, the officer team at MSD plan to introduce it to Coral Springs Middle School sometime in the near future. 

“Short term goals [for our program] are to get more kids involved with DECA and love it as much as we do,” Presno said. “Long term goals are to make an impact on the kids [and have] them realize they always have a friend at MSD.”

Despite the limits COVID-19 has placed on students in the community, DECA members continue to interact and collaborate through this special club. More information about the club can be found @decainthemiddle on Instagram.

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Ivy Lam is a sophomore at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. She is the Coordinator of Press Releases for DECA, the secretary for HOSA and an Assistant EIC for the Eagle Eye newspaper. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing and traveling.

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