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Missouri high school students selected for finals of Cybersecurity Challenge


Liz McCune

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Ten teams from Missouri high schools — from St. Louis to West Plains — have been selected to compete in the final round of the second annual Missouri High School Cybersecurity Challenge, which is being held virtually this year. The winning team will be selected on Feb. 25.

The challenge is hosted by the University of Missouri System’s Missouri Research and Education Network (MOREnet) and the Missouri Cybersecurity Center of Excellence in partnership with, a workforce development program supported by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The 10 finalists were selected from a total of 31 teams from 15 districts that entered the competition.

 “It is reported that there will be more than 3.5 million unfilled jobs in cybersecurity by next year,” said Natasha Angell, executive director of MOREnet. “We hope that introducing Missouri students to cybersecurity through game-like exercises will spark interest in students to explore a career in the cybersecurity field. Through trial and error, students are learning techniques bad actors could use to gain access to sensitive information. With this knowledge, they can work toward keeping networks and valuable personal information safe.”

Among the finalists in this year’s competition is a team from West Plains High School.

“I wanted something that was accessible to all of my students, and that they would find interesting,” said Jerry Weimer, a teacher from West Plains High School. “I was excited when I saw that it was going to be a capture the flag style competition. I had just introduced my students to them the previous week, so they were pretty excited about it.”

Shannon McMurtrey, an assistant professor of Information Systems at Drury University and a co-founder of the Missouri Cybersecurity Center of Excellence, or MCCOE, shares the importance of teaching cybersecurity in classrooms.

“By developing programs that create understanding and awareness of common cybersecurity trends, we are ingraining best practices as they progress through higher education and consider a career path,” McMurtrey said. “We adapted this year’s contest to keep the peer-to-peer connection for collaborative learning while making it virtual to add more flexibility and avoid a large gathering.”

The 10 teams that made it into the final round will have access to the U.S. Cyber Range from for three weeks, where they will train and complete challenges before the final competition later this month. 

The following teams will be competing in the event:

School Team Name Coach’s name
Eldon High School The Derp Wagon Peggy Veatch
Clayton High School Paradoxicals David Schuster
Kickapoo High School Lua Leopards Scott Neeman
St. Louis University High School SLUH Hack Club Dan See
Summit Technology Academy Renegades Lisa Oyler
Summit Technology Academy Cerberus Lisa Oyler
Summit Technology Academy Sudo Titans Lisa Oyler
West Plains High School Holy Guacamole Jerry Weimer
Willow Springs High School CodexRunner Andrew Coursen
Willow Springs High School Codesrunners 1 Andrew Coursen


About MOREnet

The Missouri Research and Education Network (MOREnet) is a member-driven consortium serving Missouri's K-12 schools, colleges and universities, public libraries, state and local government, teaching hospitals and clinics, and other affiliate organizations. MOREnet, which operates as a separate business unit within the University of Missouri System, was created in 1991 to deliver secure, reliable and robust internet connectivity to its members. Today, MOREnet has evolved from an internet service provider to an organization deploying and supporting the technology resources its members need to be successful. MOREnet provides technical support, videoconferencing support, technical training, hosted and managed cloud services, disaster recovery services, and network security. MOREnet is committed to supporting and enabling its members’ missions through the use of technology to enhance opportunities for public access, learning and research.

About MCCoE:

The Missouri Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (MCCoE) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit security operations center that serves students, businesses, government agencies and the community. The MCCoE provides security services through its staff and student interns. By providing a rich and interactive learning environment, MCCoE builds the next generation of cybersecurity professionals, connects the right people to the right careers, and closes the gap in demand for these professionals in the State of Missouri regional workplace. 


Reviewed 2021-02-23