North Hollywood High Wins National Cyberpatriots Competition

LOS ANGELES – A five-member team from North Hollywood High captured the national Cyberpatriots title this weekend, becoming the first Los Angeles Unified School District campus to win the high-pressure challenge of students’ digital skills.

"This is an incredible accomplishment and shows that hard work and dedication pays off," said Board Member Tamar Galatzan, whose district includes North Hollywood.

Known as Team Azure, the squad outscored 11 other finalists nationwide in the sixth-annual National Youth Cyber Defense Competition, held near Washington, D.C. The event tests the students’ ability to prepare, protect and defend computers and networks from viruses and hackers.

"They were up against the best of the best and came out on top," said Alvaro Cortes, executive director of Beyond the Bell, the Los Angeles Unified division that oversees the afterschool program. "I think it's just awesome."

Coached by computer science teacher Jay Gehringer, the team is comprised of juniors Henry Birge-Lee, Isaac Kim, Issac Kim, Jake King and Travis Raser. Five other teams from North Hollywood competed in the initial rounds, but only Team Azure made the finals.

Gehringer said the team was ecstatic when North Hollywood was announced as national champion, which awards each member a $2,000 scholarship.

“They hadn’t been that confident about their performance, and thought they’d finish in the fourth-place or fifth-place range,” he said. “When third place was announced, they figured, ‘Well, that’s that.’ When they were announced as the winners, they couldn’t believe it.”

During their week in Washington D.C., the team also toured the U.S. Capitol and met with Congressmen Tony Cardenas of Arleta; Brad Sherman of Sherman Oaks and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Created by the Air Force Association (an entity separate from the U.S. Air Force), the CyberPatriot competition aims to inspire students toward careers in cyber security or other science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines critical to the nation's future. The competition has grown from eight teams in 2009 to more than 1,500 representing all 50 states and Canada.

Contact: Thomas Waldman (213) 241-6766

See photos in the Daily News

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