Five Granada Hills Charter High DECA business students are headed in Nashville, Tenn., after their efforts in the California Career Development Conference.

More than 2,600 high school students from across California recently convened in San Diego to compete and demonstrate their knowledge of business-related topics like retail, finance, accounting and marketing.

Granada Hills Charter had 19 team members finish in the top eight of their divisions, more than triple any other team from southern California.

Students must place within the top four of their category to qualify for the national competition, the International Career Development Conference, to be held April 23-26. The competition simulates a real-world business environment with a written component and an interactive role-play judged by a panel of industry professionals.

The state and national competitions are organized by DECA, an international student association that prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management. Students prepare individual and team projects in one or more categories and chose their topic based on future career goals and interests.

“We started studying and preparing months ago but, in the end, we had to think on our feet and let the judges see our personality,” explains Jennifer Xie, whose winning advertising campaign was for Sprouts and featured two animated mascots, Billy the Goat and Pete the Chicken.

“Everyone has good content but you have to make it fun and engaging. We made the judges laugh. That was important!”

The Granada Hills Charter students heading to nationals are Akshay Balla Allam (first place in Retail Business Simulation); Jennifer Xie (third place in Retail Merchandising Series and 4th Place in Advertising Campaign with team member Shelby Becker); Owen Setiadi (fourth place in Accounting Applications); and Edward Yam fourth place in Business Finance Series).