WTHS DECA has 10 top six finishers at State Development and Career Conference

The elite 10 placed will have the opportunity to attend the DECA International Career and Development Conference in Atlanta in April.

DECA international conference qualifiers and senior leadership selections pose for a photo while attending the state conference. Back row, from left to right: Jonathan Miller, Jessica Navan, Mary Xoxe, Olivia Schaffer, Brandon Bittner, Matt Logiovino, Taylor Crowley, Kristina Argerakis, Megan Keeley, Stephen Cozzone; Front row: Colin Ly, Christina Franks, River Pinardo, Alicia Radke. Missing from photo: William McCrae. Photo: Matt Pesyna, special to The Sun.

Washington Township High School’s DECA program is sending 10 students to the organization’s international conference, thanks to their outstanding efforts at the New Jersey DECA State Career and Development Conference held from Feb. 27 through March 1, in Atlantic City.

Eighty-eight WTHS students participated in the state conference — they had to place in the top 14 at a regional competition to qualify — with 16 of those reaching finalist level. The elite 10 placed top six at states and will have the opportunity to attend the DECA International Career and Development Conference in Atlanta in April.

The 10 WTHS international qualifiers include: Stephen Cozzone (first place overall) in Professional Selling; Jonathan Miller (fourth place) and Jess Navan (sixth place) in Financial Consulting; Colin Ly (third place) in Principles of Finance; River Pinardo (fourth place) in Principles of Hospitality; Mary Xoxe (fifth place) in Principles of Marketing; Brandon Bittner (fifth place) in Restaurant and Food Service Management; and Kristina Argerakis, Megan Keeley and Taylor Crowley (sixth place) on their Community Service Paper.

In addition, the Washington Township School Store received a gold-level certification and also will be recognized at international conference. Christina Franks, Olivia Schaffer and William McCrae will compete against other schools in the marketing-information management aspect of the school store.

Several other WTHS students have punched their qualifying tickets to Atlanta. Natalie Sommermann, Kate Merrill, Mike McEntee and Taylor Thwaites have earned leadership academy spots after demonstrating quality leadership skills, motivation and dedication throughout the school year. Alicia Radke and Matt Logiovino will represent Washington Township in a senior leadership academy due to their participation in the State Community Service Paper, which raised $1,000 for the Bridge of Books Foundation. The foundation provides books to underserved children throughout New Jersey for the development of literacy skills and to encourage a love of reading.

A few other WTHS students received recognition for the performances. Ava Pisauro, Mike McEntee, Christina Franks, Kate Merrill, Kyle Rink and Alex Carraro were named finalists. Eight students — Emily McKee, Kate Merrill, Hannah Zaborowski, Jessica Culin, Mike McEntee, Brandon Bitner, Jocelyn Proferes and Sam Pape — earned AHLEF Hospitality Industry Certification for earning a 70 or higher on their hospitality exam.

The 88-member WTHS contingent poses at the DECA state conference in Atlantic City. Photo: Matt Pesyna, special to The Sun.

The students who attended state conference gained experience in an eventful three days, attending Downtown DECA and completing various business and career showcases.

“We are extremely proud of our students for their hard work and excellent behavior throughout the conference,” said teacher Alex McBride, who is a co-advisor of DECA alongside Sara Simpson. “We look forward to attending the International Career and Development Conference in April.”