DECA competitor earns top 10
Missy Toland is a DECA star, but the Superior High School senior didn’t find out she’d placed sixth in international competition until weeks after it ended. Toland was one of six SHS students to qualify for the event.
Toland was the only one who placed in the top 20 and moved on to the final round. But when the top 10 were read in the community service project category, her name wasn’t called. She only found out about the sixth-place finish when DECA adviser Paul Zollver went online to the association site about two weeks later. There was Toland’s name, and her top ten ranking.
The award was shipped out and Principal Kent Bergum presented it to Toland at the high school’s awards banquet.
It was a proud moment, she said, although about 16,000 less people witnessed it.
Delays were a theme throughout the senior’s “Souper-Bowl” project.
Weather postponed the project not once but twice. The third time was the charm. Falling on the same night as a girl’s home basketball game, the soup dinner raised more than $2,000 to provide winter clothing for Superior elementary school students. Before winter break, the high school students purchased and handed out winter gear to 57 children. Many of the DECA students were able to reconnect to their former elementary schools while delivering the gifts.
“We were able to make an impact in our community,” Toland said.
Both she and Zollver stressed the win isn’t about a single person. All the DECA members teamed up to make the event a success and community members stepped up to donate soup and buy tickets.
Toland took it to the next level, however, spending four months writing and editing to craft an eye-catching 29-page report and a presentation to go with it. She and partner Shaylee Sokoloski earned first place in state competition. That’s tough to do with a community service project, Zollver said, because there are so many entries for that category. When Sokoloski was unable to attend international competition, Toland presented the project alone. Making it into the final round of competition was a feat in itself, as she had to be one of the top two projects in her section of 16. A total of 20 teams make the final round of presentations, where the written portion of the project counted for 60 percent and the presentation for 40 percent of the score.
“Toland was scheduled to present last out of the 20 finalist teams, so to leap-frog so many teams to place sixth overall was remarkable,” Zollver said.
In addition to DECA, Toland was involved in the school’s student council and Pledgemakers and has enlisted in the Wisconsin Army National Guard. She also worked part-time at the Superior movie theater her senior year.
She encouraged SHS students to try DECA. DECA is an association of marketing students.
It provided good training in speaking to people in the community. And it led to success on many levels, from the teamwork students displayed while preparing for the event to the ultimate result.
“We not only affected the community through our charitable actions, but we were also able to change the winter for 57 students who received brand new winter clothing … ,” Toland wrote in her award-winning report.
With the win, she joins an elite few Superior students who have earned top 10 spots at international DECA competition. They include the 2001 public relations team of Joe Swanson, Angie McDonald and Joe VanVynckt who earned third place with their “Click It or Ticket” public relations campaign, and Tom Santori and Alison Mahan whose “Life or Meth” public relations campaign in 2006 earned first place.
This year’s DECA students have set the bar high, raising a record amount for cancer research during their annual tailgate fundraiser.
“I think competition brings out the best in people,” Zollver said, whether sports, academic or co-curricular. There are plenty of opportunities for students to get involved at school, Toland said, and she encouraged high school students take advantage of them. They help prepare you for the future and make close friendships, she said.
“I think the students who have the best experience in high school are the kids who take part in something,” Zollver said.