HIGHLAND PARK – A proposal crafted by three Highland Park High School students to reduce lead in the water at hospitals and public health facilities in China so impressed the judges at the DECA International Career Development Conference (ICDC) last month that the team took home first place in the International Business Plan event. Pipe It Back, developed by rising seniors Bradley Berkman, Jack Foster and Emory Holzer, outlines plans to sell chlorinated PVC piping to China and buy back the copper piping that is currently being used; the plan also calls for partnering with Charity Water to donate drinking water.
The team qualified to compete at Internationals by earning top marks at the state DECA competition; approximately 20 other HPHS students also participated in this year’s ICDC. Berkman, Foster and Holzer said the water-quality issues in China, coupled with those in Flint, Michigan, sparked the idea for their proposal.
“We thought it would be really impactful to have a business specializing in providing clean water to afflicted areas,” Foster said. The team worked together to craft their 30-page proposal, which they presented to a judge; the top two finishers in each event at ICDC participate in finals. “I think we’re a good team and we work well together,” Foster said.
Berkman said participation in DECA has helped boost their creativity and hone their presentation skills—along with their ability to perform under pressure, Holzer added. “DECA forces you not only to have ideas, but to work out all of the aspects and implications of those ideas,” Foster said. “That’s definitely a muscle that’s nice to stretch.”