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Glacier student brings home DECA hardware

May 5, 2018 GMT

Glacier High School senior Harrison Rennie went to the DECA International Career Development Conference in Atlanta and returned to Kalispell a champion.

Rennie is the first Glacier student to win at the international conference and competition. His first-place win was in Hotel and Lodging Management. This was Rennie’s second time competing at the international level.

Students competed in marketing, finance, hospitality and tourism, business administration and entrepreneurship events. The competition involved tests, role-play and presentations designed to simulate real-world issues or topics in business.

Rennie was one of 18 Glacier students who competed at internationals held April 21-24. Whitefish High School brought 19 students, and junior Josie Johnson was among the top 10 finalists in Principles of Finance.

Josh Munro, the DECA adviser at Glacier, said that each event begins with between 220 to 250 competitors. Preliminary rounds narrow the competition to the top 20 in each event who advance to finals.

Rennie also competes in speech and debate. Unlike speech and debate, he was not able to watch his competition.

“In speech and debate you are in the same room as your opponents and you see their performance. In DECA, all you have access to during your presentation is your judge and you have to leave immediately after competing, so you really have no idea how the competition is going.”

Coming out of the final round, Rennie knew he’d be up against the best of the best, but was confident in his presentation. He wouldn’t learn until two hours into an awards ceremony that he won.

During the ceremony, the top 10 competitors were called to the stage in each event before a winner was announced. When Rennie heard his name called in the top 10 it was a moment of relief.

“I was just excited to be able to stand on the international stage,” Rennie said. “When they called my name for first place it was obviously exciting and a bit unexpected. I just felt really proud to represent Glacier and Montana at that level.”

Munro said the conference offers students a chance to apply classroom knowledge to real-world topics through competition, attend leadership academics and network with peers and businesses.

Rennie has been a member of the Glacier DECA chapter for four years and currently serves as the president of Montana DECA.

“I joined DECA because it seemed like a club that would allow me to diversify my interests and expand the application of my presentation skills beyond speech and debate,” said Rennie.

Rennie said he is planning to go into the medical field with a goal of eventually owning a private practice.

Reporter Hilary Matheson may be reached at 758-4431 or hmatheson@dailyinterlake.com.