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L.A. student computer experts take part in national competition

Alexander Ke left, Eugene Woo and other members of the North Hollywood High School cyber defense team are feted by cheerleaders during a pep rally Thursday. (Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times)
Alexander Ke left, Eugene Woo and other members of the North Hollywood High School cyber defense team are feted by cheerleaders during a pep rally Thursday. (Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times)

Schools from the Los Angeles Unified School District long have dominated the national Academic Decathlon. Now they're trying to do the same in the National Cyber Security Championship.

In this more recently launched competition, teams detect and disarm simulated cyber threats. L.A. Unified is the only district to have teams advance to the nationals for the last eight years. 

North Hollywood High on Thursday staged a send-off for its three teams that will compete next week in Baltimore. The students got the football-star treatment, entering the celebration through a tunnel of cheerleaders. The school's band gave them a musical salvo. Principal Ricardo Rosales talked them up.

The five-member teams are coached by computer science teacher Jay Gehringer, who helped the school win the 2014 championship.

Reseda High also is sending a team to this year's finals. Nationwide, 4,400 teams competed.

CyberPatriot, which sponsors the competition, is an educational effort of the Air Force Assn. The overarching goal is to inspire students toward careers in cybersecurity or other areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

In L.A. Unified, the competition is run by Beyond the Bell, a nonprofit in charge of district after-school programs.

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