Sunday, November 29, 2020
Rianna Knoll, a junior at Sparta High School, placed fourth in Professional Selling at the DECA state competition last year as well as ninth in the Economic test, which double qualified her to compete at the national competition. Contributed photo

SHS student raves about her experience with DECA

When Rianna Knoll, a junior at Sparta High School, enrolled in Business Education teacher Jamie Adams’ Intro to Marketing class as a freshman, she had no idea it would have such an enormous impact on her high school career. 

Adams convinced Knoll to join the Sparta High School DECA Chapter after Knoll was the only one of her peers to score 100 percent on their first unit exam.

“I hadn’t planned on joining DECA, but she (Adams) came to me and asked me to please consider it,” Knoll said. “She’s a great woman, she likes to see people succeed and she has such a passion for everything that we do that it makes me excited to participate. She knew that it would be something I shouldn’t be scared of trying and she wanted to see what I could do and I’m really thankful for that.”

Freshman year, Knoll competed at the DECA District competitions in Principles of Marketing. She took second place her first year, but unfortunately, she said she couldn’t muster the courage to compete at the state competition. 

Sophomore year, she took first place in Entrepreneurship at districts. She advanced to state and double qualified for nationals, coming in ninth place on her economics exam and fourth place for Professional Selling.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the national competition was cancelled and Knoll, along with other Sparta DECA members, missed the opportunity to compete at nationals. 

The DECA organization exists to prepare local students to become future leaders and/or entrepreneurs for secondary education and careers in areas of finance, entrepreneurship, marketing, business management and administration as well as hospitality and tourism. 

Through DECA, students acquire numerous skills desired by employers such as communication, innovation, critical thinking, adaptability, initiative, responsibility, productivity and many more. 

Knolls said she has enjoyed her experiences with DECA immensely. The first year she participated in DECA, she said it helped her feel more confident in her abilities and she began to doubt herself less.

“Last year, going to state, I had a social awakening. It’s the most involved with my peers I’ve ever felt,” she said. “I think I made five new friends from the experience. As somewhat of an introvert, it was really cool to come back from that and say not only did I double qualify and prove to myself that I did good, but I proved that I can be a kind, fun person as well as professional.”

When she first joined DECA, her primary focus was how her participation would look on college applications and what the experiences would mean for her future. “Then I learned that there are so many benefits for the present too. I feel so much more comfortable being a part of my class and my school by being a part of DECA,” Knoll added.

Knoll strives to make people proud and when she sees how happy her mom Dr. Jennifer Knoll, owner of Sparta Dental Center and Adams become because of her achievements, it makes her feel so good inside.

This year, Knoll will be competing virtually in Entrepreneurship again now that she has more time on her hands to learn. Each participant will need to create a video presentation that will be sent to the judges to make their critiques.

“I’m a little nervous because I have a feeling there will be a lot more, better prepared presentations this year and I hope that will allow some kids to figure out how DECA works,” Knoll said. “I’m just excited to be able to compete again.” 

This past week, Sparta DECA celebrated DECA week virtually to help promote the club. Knoll created a video thanking parents while other members created videos thanking teachers, the administration team, community members and more.

“It was really fun to do because I wouldn’t be able to be successful in DECA without Mrs. Adams encouragement, my Mom and all of these life lessons I’ve learned through the community,” she said. “Being able to thank those people and those groups has been really nice.” 

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