Sound Off: DECA helps kids

By Shanna Montross

First let me say how much I appreciate your cartoons. But, when you attack DECA (July 13 cartoon by Milt Priggee), you attack me, a somewhat inconsequential one-year member of DECA which affected me for the better.

To quote your satirical words, “but DECA club teaches students the importance of values and how to determine priorities,” as though DECA teaches nothing of the sort and that we, the youth of Oak Harbor, are all part of DECA to learn how to become capitalistic opportunists with stone hearts and icy eyes.

This is what I learned from DECA. By way of the importance of values, I learned that I do not agree with deceptive marketing, the kind that, for instance, deceives people into thinking that by taking a pill they can lose 20 pounds and attain a fit, healthy body. I learned that the actions of Enron and Worldcom were horrendous, unethical, greedy and materialistic (which are all things I do not wish to be) and these actions have left a stain on our American capitalism that can never be erased. We have become afraid to invest in the one thing that we were so proud of, the thing that our country thrived on: capitalism. In short, I learned that lying, cheating, unbridled greediness, and materialism were all parts of the human race that I wanted no part in.

By way of determining priorities, DECA members learned about choices and how marketing can affect them. This is, by far the most important part of DECA. The idea that as humans, we all have the ability to choose as we all have free will. I threw my heart into DECA putting together an advertising campaign for our local library and then going to competition with it. Eventually, I went on to place eighth overall in the state of Washington with this little campaign that I had worked so hard on. I made the choice to be determined and I made the choice to work hard. I made the choice to give it my all. I learned the value of hard work, yet I still had time to play and enjoyed the experience very much. I met new people and friends, as a longtime introvert this was quite surprising and thrilling.

As stated, DECA teaches us about our ability to choose, about our free will. Simply put; if one really cares about one’s health, one will do something about it. I had to make the choice to begin to exercise and eat correctly of my own volition. My own will brought this about. We all must accept responsibility for our own actions in order to even begin the process of changing ourselves.

Yes, it is highly important that something be done about the growing obesity problem in adolescents. In school perhaps these changes should come in the form of increasing the amount of physical activity in the physical education program. In the student store, perhaps an equal amount of healthy food and candy should be offered instead of a strictly candy selection or a strictly non-candy selection. I believe that if candy is completely removed from Oak Harbor High School, it will make its way back into the halls illicitly. If freedom of choice is completely cut off, the only thing fostered inside of youths at OHHS will be rebellion and hate of “the man” for taking this drastic action.

What must be fostered is moderation. We all know that if all of us were never allowed to eat ice cream again, the only thing we would want to eat would be ice cream. What needs to be taught is two scoops of ice cream rather than six and then only to be eaten two or three times per week. As adults, how can we force children to eat completely healthy food at school when they will probably see us eating junk food at a later date? We do not want to be hypocrites, this will make the youth hate us more. Moreover, DECA profits go to benefit the school. Candy fund-raisers, which will be winnowed out, raise much needed dollars for clubs in the school. Students pushing carrots will not get very far. Our school needs money, candy oftentimes is the backbone of our funds. In the hot lunch program, where most students receive their food, perhaps healthier food should be served. Strangely enough, guidelines for food in the lunch programs are much more relaxed. Instead of greasy pizza, fatty burritos, and wilted salads, nutritious foods should be served.

Above all, the freedom of choice should always be available to students to teach them the importance of human responsibility, to teach them the importance of making choices themselves and to teach them how to live like adults. This is, after all, one of the things that high school is supposed to impart on adolescents.

At home, physical activity should be encouraged rather than Nintendo or computer games. Moderation and healthy portion sizes should be fostered, but not forced. The ill effects of obesity should be gently told to the growing child or adolescent but not daily and habitually screamed and forced into the minds of youths. Choice should always be the backbone of these teachings. School and the home must collaborate to even begin to put a dent in this horrible problem.

DECA is an important part of OHHS. It has affected me in many positive ways. Maybe I am naive. Maybe I am an idealist. But I do not, cannot believe that DECA is a cold machine that does not care about this problem. On the contrary I believe that DECA cares very much for the adolescents that participate in its activities. It does not want to see one more youth fall into the grips of obesity. Does it want profits? Of course it does, but not at the expense of teenagers. It does, however, believe in the power of choice, one of the most valuable things we will ever learn. If I have offended anyone, I whole-heartedly and sincerely apologize.

Shanna Montross is an Oak Harbor resident.

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