National spotlight on Summit Lakes students after win in CyberPatriot IX

kschwers@kcstar.comApril 27, 2017 

A team of six Lee’s Summit students from Summit Lakes Middle School earned the championship trophy in CyberPatriot IX—the National Youth Cyber Defense Competition held earlier this month in Baltimore. Pictured with CyberPatriot officials are (from left) Technical Coach Kevin Schulmeister, Ethan McFarland, Tommy Cuezze, Connor Bichsel, Keenan Curp, Jonah Ludiker, Mason Sipe and Team Coach Teri Curp.

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Six middle school students in Lee’s Summit may have strong career prospects in the field of cybersecurity after bringing home a championship trophy in at a national competition known as CyberPatriot.

The seventh- and eighth-grade students were a part of Team Error 37, based out of Summit Lakes Middle School.

In early April, the students brought their technical skills from Lee’s Summit to compete in the National Youth Cyber Defense Competition, also known as CyberPatriot IX, in Baltimore. On top of winning the national competition, the school district says the team is also set to be featured in an upcoming April issue of Time for Kids in an article on cybersecurity.

The winning team included three eighth-grade students — Tommy Cuezze, Jonah Ludiker and Mason Sipe — as well as three seventh-grade students: Connor Bichsel, Keenan Curp and Ethan McFarland. Teri Curp coached the team, and Kevin Shulmeister served as a technical coach.

“I think the experience will be forever frozen in the kids’ minds as one of their best middle school experiences,” Curp said. “They had a lot of fun with their teammates, and the excitement of winning nationals is hard to beat.

“All week, CyberPatriot encourages the students as future leaders in our country. Most of them now plan to have some kind of career in cybersecurity.”

The CyberPatriot organization explains that high school and middle school students in the competition each year take on the role as IT professionals, managing a network of a small company. And just like IT professionals, students work to defend virtual networks and mobile devices from cyber attacks and hackers.

CyberPatriot, the national program and competition, was created by the Air Force Association in 2009. The organization considers cybersecurity a growing career field.

In the CyberPatriot competition, the Summit Lakes Middle School team this year was one of three advancing teams from a pool of roughly 600 middle school division teams. The Lee’s Summit team took first place on April 5. Teams from Oak Valley Middle School in San Diego took second- and third-place in the middle school division.

Curp says she hopes all of the students will return next year to CyberPatriot.

“As for goals, I first and foremost want to expose as many kids as I can to the field of cybersecurity and teach them how to be secure online,” Curp said, adding that she plans on coaching three teams of six students again next year.

This summer, Summit Lakes Middle School is set to host Cyber Camp for students interested in cybersecurity. The camp is scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. July 24 to 28. Curp says they will also hold open meetings in September for students interested in trying out the program.

For more information about the CyberPatriot teams at Summit Lakes Middle School, visit sites.google.com/a/lsr7.net/tcurp/cyberpatriot. For more information about CyberPatriot, go to www.uscyberpatriot.org.

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