NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

January 27, 2014

Showcasing her skills

Triton SPED student competes at DECA meet with T-shirt design

BYFIELD — She may not be able to communicate in a traditional way, but Triton special education student Lexi McCarthy can bring a product to the market and make it work.

A nonverbal student in the Triton Adaptive Learning Center that caters to students with multiple, severe disabilities and complex medical needs, McCarthy, 19, competed in the Distributive Educational Clubs of America (DECA) District Regional Competition at Danvers’ Doubletree Hilton Hotel earlier this month — the first student in her category to do so in her district’s history.

“Lexi is a very talented girl,” said special education teacher Kevin Crowley. “She had complete ownership of the project and while we certainly guided her along the way, everything that is on that shirt is her choice.”

“It’s pushing the envelope,” said Triton business teacher and DECA adviser Frank D’Aloisio. “It was a first for our district (which includes North Andover, Beverly, Danvers, Peabody, Georgetown, Gloucester and Rockport) utilizing Lexi and the DECA concept. Hopefully, our district will start to encompass that idea and make that competition available all the way through. Maybe this will lead to something where Lexi will compete with somebody in her particular category.”

McCarthy communicates through the use of a 30-page, laminated communication book organized by topic including emotions, thoughts, needs, people, places or whatever else she may need to speak.

“Danvers was the victory,” Crowley said. “It was an opportunity that she took advantage of. It was a chance to showcase her abilities and skills.”

An international program, DECA is designed to prepare emerging entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management that Crowley and McCarthy came to almost by accident. Visiting the high school’s Viking Corner Store one day, Crowley and McCarthy met D’Aloisio and got talking. What if McCarthy could design a product to compete in the DECA Regional that could also move off the shelves at the Corner Store?

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