Naugatuck DECA club defined by a team effort

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BY KEN MORSE
CITIZEN’S NEWS
The Naugatuck High School DECA club has always been a force to be reckoned with throughout the state when it came time for competition. Restrictions due to the pandemic altered the way teams competed but last year Naugatuck still stood out among the crowd, even during the virtual competitions.
“Naugatuck is known to place high in these state events,” said Naugatuck DECA advisor and business teacher Eileen Wargo. “I have been a DECA advisor in another district, prior to coming here, but this is my first year at Naugatuck. The students have been great to work with. I have two seniors from our team that finished runner-up in the state. Amy Morrissey is the Public Relations officer and William Zheng is the Vice President and they are really good leaders. They have really stepped up in helping me to figure out the lay of the land in my first year at the school.”
Coming up with a formidable plan and putting together a winning team is half the battle when you are facing a state competition. This year’s winning combination relied on the zealous approach from an athletic standpoint.
“Lily (Dalton) and I did a project last year about Panera Bread,” said Morrissey. “We ended up winning the competition and that was really exciting. Virtual competition last year consisted of recording our presentation and uploading it to YouTube and from there it went onto the DECA platform.
“We have a pretty vibrant chapter at Naugatuck so winning a state competition is fairly common. We had several teams place first at states last year. I think there is a certain kind of discipline that comes with being a student-athlete and I think those aspects carry over into projects like we did for DECA.”
Morrissey continued: “At the end of last year William approached us about working together on a project. I think working together on this project really brought about a support for one another. And I think we will be following each other’s sporting events, cheering one another on.”
The state runner-up in the Independent Business Plan category actually had a leg up on the competition with these three athletes, who compete in different sports, coming together as one, to give Naugatuck its best chance in the competition.
“I think because we all play sports we are used to that competition mentality,” said Zheng. “We know how to work as a team and I think that is one of the biggest factors about being athletes, is we know what it takes to be successful, as a team.
“I competed in Business Operations Research last year and won that competition. Being one of the state officers, I know what it takes. I’m an officer of the Naugatuck DECA club, and an officer at the state level as well.”
Morrissey (swimming), Zheng (tennis) and sophomore Lily Dalton (track) worked together as a team of one to land second place in the state competition. This wasn’t the first time that Morrissey and Dalton teamed up. Last year the duo won the state’s virtual competition.
“It was really exciting to be competing in person this year,” said Dalton. “It was held at the Aqua Turf and there were so many people competing. It can be a little intimidating but it was so cool to be part of something like that.
“Based on our category we had some criteria to go with, so we took a divide-and-conquer approach. We each took responsibility for different sections of the project. We utilized our different skillsets and brought them all together into the finished project.
Gabriela Sanchez competed in the Integrated Marketing campaign and placed third in the state. In the Innovative Plan division, Adalee Evans and Intisar Iqbal competed and in the Start-Up Business Plan division Rachael Gyamerah represented Naugatuck.