Fullerton students advance in national cybersecurity competition

Students and staff from Ladera Vista Junior High School
A team from Ladera Vista Junior High School of the Arts in Fullerton has earned its way into the finals of a national cybersecurity competition. Pictured, from left, are Coach Sarah Lee, Zachary Dang, Garrett Fan, Coach Doug Elmore, Justin Huang, Justin Hernandez, Nathaniel Hernandez and school Principal Randa Schmalfeld.

A group of Fullerton middle schoolers has placed second in a national competition that puts students in the role of cybersecurity experts.

Now they’re headed to Maryland for the finals, where they’ll be joined by a pair of teams from a nearby high school.

Zachary Dang, Garrett Fan, Justin Huang, Justin Hernandez and Nathaniel Hernandez of Ladera Vista Junior High School of the Arts in the Fullerton School District bested more than 1,100 teams to place second in the National Youth Cyber Defense Competition organized by CyberPatriot, a digital education program created by the Air Force Association.

Coached by Sarah Lee and teacher Doug Elmore, the Ladera team — known as LV Team 1 — is now headed to the CyberPatriot X National Finals, which will be held April 16-18 in Baltimore, Md.

Meanwhile, two squads from nearby Troy High School in the Fullerton Joint Union High School District have also been invited as finalists. The Cyber Warriors 7 and Troy Tech Support are both led by coach Don Allen.

The National Youth Cyber Defense Competition casts middle and high school students as IT professionals in charge of managing the network of a small company. Over rounds of competition, teams are tasked with finding cybersecurity vulnerabilities while maintaining critical services over a six-hour period.

Teams compete for state and regional titles, but the top performers can also earn all-expense-paid trips to Maryland to vie for national recognition and scholarship money.