Scenes from Schools: Locke High School

March 17, 2011

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"Scenes from Schools" is an occasional piece on the CCSA News Blog that offers a glimpse at the tremendous work taking place on charter school campuses across California. In today's "Scenes," we learn about the achievements of the Locke High School CyberPatriots.

Locke CyberPatriots Advance to Finals in Washington, D.C.

Seven students from Locke High School advanced to the championship round of CyberPatriot, a nationwide cyber-defense competition designed for high school students. The championships will be held in Washington, D.C. on April 1st and 2nd. Out of the initial 180 schools internationally to enter the competition, the team from Locke High School is one of just twelve final schools to be invited to this prestigious event.

Locke CyberPatriots Richard Parker, Samantha Abzun, Kevin Moran, Priscilla Magdaleno, Jonathan Gonzalez, Carmen Maldonaldo, and Alex Avelar are the eight star "anti-hackers" whose hard work and dedication are taking them to the opposite side of the nation to compete in one last round. In what has been a series of suspenseful and mentally-draining competitions, Locke students have not only had to identify viruses within various computer operating systems, they've also had to correct those viruses, strengthen password security, and properly configure ports and router - all while relying on various HTML codes and scripts that are likely to boggle the minds of most.

"I learned stuff on my own," explained Kevin Moran, the team leader of the Locke CyberPatriots. "I first started off by scripting games and I just learned how off the Internet."

Although they are largely self-taught, the students receive support and coaching from four teachers at Locke and Mark Lupfer of the U.S. Air Force Association.

"I immediately fell in love with (the Locke kids)," Lupfer remarked. "They're very attentive, very appreciative, very hard-working - and pretty darn sharp, too! The relationship has been a real joy because they're just constantly drinking it up - not to mention they are also very accomplished now."

CyberPatriot is an education initative created by the U.S. Air Force Association, Northrup Grumman, the ICS-CIAS and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) that offers high school students the opportunity to learn about cyber security in a hands-on way. Locke's CyberPatriot program is sponsered in partnership by the Watts-Willowbrook Boys and Girls Club and LAUSD's Beyond the Bell Branch.

Green Dot currently operates seventeen successful charter high schools in the highest-need areas of the city, including eight as part of the rejuvenation of Locke High School in Watts. In fall 2010, Green Dot opened the doors of their very first charter middle school, Ánimo Jefferson Charter Middle School. With Green Dot's success to date, they are demonstrating that public schools can do a far better job of educating students if they are operated more efficiently - and if the focus is kept on students. Green Dot envisions a public school system in Los Angeles made up of small, high-performing schools that each encompass a belief in the potential of all students, foster teacher creativity, encourage parental involvement, and ultimately prepare students for college, leadership, and life. For more information about Green Dot, click here.

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