Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr.

Alice Echo-News Journal

With a perfected presentation and dangerously pointed trophy in hand, seniors Michelle Fitch and Cassie Bunch left DECA state competition in Corpus Christi confident and focused.

For the third year in a row, an Alice High School DECA team will be participating in the International DECA Conference. The competition will take place this weekend in Orlando, Fla.

Fitch and Bunch placed in the top three at state competition. Under DECA guidelines, the top five competitors in each category go on to the international conference.

The students participated in the E-Commerce Business Plan Event, creating a business called prettyinpink.com, which targets women's femininity and also strives to promote independence through the sale of pink, empowering products.

The seniors will be running up against some large competition this year, with more than 300 teams competing in just the E-Commerce category.

For DECA instructor and team sponsor Margie Barrios, a third trip to nationals is the accomplishment of a longtime goal.

"To take students to this level of competition, it's really amazing and something that we've worked hard to accomplish," Barrios said.

Out of the 300 teams, 20 will be chosen through a preliminary process to compete in the finals, and 10 will place in the final competition.

Both students are confident they might make the cut to the final 20.

One of the unique aspects of their presentation included the pink business attire they wore in front of the judges. Bunch said although they will be wearing the conservative DECA jackets for their international presentation, she feels confident the judges will look more at the content of their presentation than their appearance.

"Really, when it comes to the actual time in front of the judges, it's maybe 30 percent the way we look and 70 percent presentation," Bunch said. "And our presentation is very good."

As for the color choice, the girls never really considered any other color but pink.

"When you think girlie, you automatically think pink. It also related to our work with breast cancer awareness," Fitch said.

The girls will wear pins and promote breast cancer awareness as part of their presentation to the judges. Barrios consistently reminds her students that being a good businessperson means giving back to the community. As a team, the girls say they share responsibilities for the presentation.

"We pretty much play an even role. During the presentation, we each have something to say," Fitch said.

Fitch and Bunch also put their business skills to use in the real world, with Bunch working at Island Glow Tanning Salon and Fitch at Financial Process, as part of their work commitments to the DECA organization.

In addition to preparing for nationals, Fitch is competing this week in the regional track meet in the sprint relay, the 800 meter relay, the mile relay and the high jump.

So, after a physically exhausting regional contest, Fitch will have to jump on a plane and fly across country to compete in Florida with Bunch.

Despite the complications, both girls are excited about the international conference and, of course, both are excited about going to Disney World afterward.