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PEARCY -- The Lake Hamilton High School all-girls computer technology group LHWolvesCode recently won third place and a $100 Amazon gift card for their school in the state Girls Go CyberStart competition.

The group, the first from the school to compete in the girls-only competition, also placed 88th in the national competition.

Lake Hamilton's team, comprised of incoming senior Zoie Keys, incoming junior Colleen Miller and incoming sophomores Kendall House and Lauren Charles, was led to their third-place win by LHHS computer science instructor Karma Turner.

"I am very pleased with their performance. The competition was held after school was dismissed for summer break, therefore the team was only able to work together one day of the three-day competition. In light of this fact, I think they made an awesome showing," Turner said.

The governor-backed program is "designed to bridge the cybersecurity skills gap in the U.S.," a news release said.

During the remotely accessed contest, girls across the country competed in a series of digital games and challenges online to gain a better understanding of the cybersecurity industry.

"The girls were both nervous and eager. Nervous because it was their first national competition. Eager because they were eager to learn as much as possible from this experience," Turner said.

The first level of the competition, held from March 20 to April 13, was open to all girls in grades 9-12. Lake Hamilton registered 123 girls for the competition and was recognized for the school registering the second most in the state.

More than 10,000 girls across 27 states took part in the first stage of the program, CyberStart Assess. At the end of that round, 6,600 girls, including all of Lake Hamilton's contestants, qualified for the second round of competition, the CyberStart Game.

Over a month, the CyberStart Game pitted teams against a series of increasingly difficult cybersecurity challenges to win points for their school and advance to the third and final stage.

Finally, the top three teams in each state were invited to register four team members for the final round of the competition from June 5-7.

Turner said the only preparation her students had was "working through the first two rounds of the competition and learning from those challenges."

On June 6, Turner and her team met in her computer science classroom for what she estimated to be about seven hours to work collaboratively as a team.

Despite lack of preparation, practice, or as much time as they would have liked to work together as a team, the group nabbed third place, falling behind only state runner-up Greenbrier Cyber Club of Greenbrier High School and state champions Greenbrier Junior High School Cyber Team, which took first.

"This competition is a great catalyst for encouragement to pursue a STEM field. Two of the team members have previously relayed to me they want to pursue a career in computer science and or cyber criminology," Turner said.

Alan Paller, Research Director at SANS Institute said that "The support from schools and teachers has been instrumental in helping us empower a generation of incredible young women to become the next leaders in an industry where they can make a huge difference. We can't wait to see what this talented groups of students from Lake Hamilton High School will go on to achieve."

Local on 06/30/2019

Print Headline: Lake Hamilton girls place third in statewide cybersecurity competition

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