The team consists of the following personnel, as pictured: C/2LT Gianna Suzuki (team captain), C/SGT Ashton Kiser, C/1LT Austin Tran, and C/CPL Angel Mauriz (virtually).
This 2021-2022 school year, the Army Junior ROTC cadets are returning for their second year of competition, for the most part, with a completely fresh start. CyberPatriots is a national youth cyber education program in the United States, created to help direct students toward careers in cybersecurity, as well as other science, technology, engineering, and mathematical disciplines. COVID-19 brought about several challenges, but one thing it could not stop was the Butler High School CyberPatriots team.
Over the summer, the majority of these cadets attended CyberPatriots training at two different colleges. Attempting to hold practice every Wednesday after school, working long and hard on their weekends, they have thus far progressed to the state round. When asked about her experience, returning competitor and team captain Gianna Suzuki stated, “Last year was tough. Most of us had no idea what to expect or what we were doing and trying to tackle all of that virtually made it exponentially harder. Having a smaller team, I have had to learn a lot more about the different systems and become comfortable working on them. Leading a team is very out of my comfort zone, but the opportunity to share my passion and knowledge of computers excited me.”
A high school CyberPatriots competition consists of three images and Cisco networking, which all must be completed in the allotted 6 hours. Throughout the rounds, Kiser worked on Windows 10 images, Tran worked on Windows Server images, Suzuki worked on Linux images, and Mauriz worked on Cisco packet tracer and quiz modules, although each cadet had the chance to work with every system. When asked about his experience, returning competitor Austin Tran stated, “In my experience of competing in these past two rounds, I had my moments of struggle, but also had many moments of joy and excitement. During these rounds, I learned to better communicate with my teammates, as well as trying to lift the mood while we were in a slump. Our captain, Suzuki was the primary one who capable of getting us out of that slump or hole, this would in turn allow our team to continue fighting the good fight, continuing on and scoring points. I wish to continue learning about the overall Windows 10 and Server 2019 systems so that I will be able to successfully get through each round we participate in.”
While it has been a successful run in Butler’s eyes, by no means did it come easy to this beginning team. When asked about her experience, Kiser stated, “Before the CyberPatriots competition, I was new to cybersecurity and knew the basic things necessary for the competition. I was able to improve upon seeing what was given and I learned new skills, such as securing a Windows system, changing different account types, and making sure the system does not have any bugs or deficiencies.” In a similar response, when asked about his experience, Mauriz stated, “My experiences participating in CyberPatriots rounds one and two were very fun, stressful, and intense, since this is my first year competing. The teamwork was something I loved, everyone helped me when I needed it. I think it was the best experience and way to learn overall. I hope to do all that I can to become comfortable with packet tracer moving forward.”
At the end of it all, the Bulldogs became the first ever platinum tier Army JROTC school in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. A closing remark from the team captain, “Last year, our team made gold tier, so we set the goal to reach platinum the following year. While most of my previous teammates are no longer doing CyberPatriots, my team this year has gone far beyond that goal, and I am extremely proud of our progress. Next year, I hope to achieve first place for Army Junior ROTC in the entire state of North Carolina.”