Pearl River Central High School students place in technology competition

Published 7:00 am Thursday, March 9, 2017

Members of the Pearl River County School District Board of Trustees met teachers of the year and students involved in the new cyber security program that were successful in state and regional competitions.
Before handing the floor over to the Board, Superintendent Alan Lumpkin honored the district’s top teachers for their exemplary efforts of going above and beyond in the classroom.
The Pearl River Central Lower Elementary Teacher of the Year is Tara Spiers; Upper Elementary Teacher of the Year is Amanda Newbill; PRC Middle School Teacher of the Year is Leslie Espy; PRC High School Teacher of the Year is Chris Penton and the District Teacher of the Year is Kimberly Easterling.
In other news, the CyberDevils—a cyber education program at PRCHS—recently sent three teams to compete in the CyberPatriot National Youth Cyber Defense Competition where the teams placed 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the state.
When Frank Hammen, information technology teacher at PRCHS, came to PRC this year, he said he brought a new extracurricular program with him, the cyber education program.
“The students . . . expand their learning and had an amazing experience,” Hammen said.
The CyberPatriot competition involves three tiers of competition, including silver, gold and platinum. After the CyberDevils teams advanced to the gold tier, they competed in the regional competition against 27 other teams from Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida, placing 14th, 22nd and 24th in the students’ first cyber security competition.
The competition gave the students a chance to do something new and experience a potential career path, Hammen said.
“We ended up 14th in the region for our first time out. I didn’t think we were going to do anything like that,” Hunter Ladner, a PRCHS IT student said. “For us, it was going from not knowing much about cyber security to having to work on some of the hardest stuff [the AFA] could give us. It was a cool experience to be able to do this and place so high in the state too.”
“It was a great job experience that showed us what the field is like and that we can actually go to college to pursue that career and do it for a living,” Victoria Kingrey, PRCHS IT student, said.
After a round of applause from the packed boardroom, Alan Lumpkin commended the students and Hammen for representing the district in the national competition.
“Have you ever walked into a room and realized very quickly that you were out of your element? When I visited the classroom as they were going through the process, I quickly realized I was out of my element. They are doing a tremendous job,” Lumpkin said.
In other business the Board:
• Received news from the Governor’s office that the school district will be receiving a 0.5 percent MAEP budget cut for the remainder of the year. This cut equals to $74,500.
Lumpkin met with Business Administrator T.J. Burleson, who said “We feel like we will be able to absorb [the budget cut] fairly well,” by using additional savings from worker’s comp insurance and energy expenses. Lumpkin said the district is not going to ask the Board to amend the budget at this time.
• Dr. Lori Burkett, PRCMS principal, and Mike Posey, district student services director, asked the Board to approve the hiring of a certified substitute at the middle school to meet the need of an increase in special education and resource students in the 6th grade at PRCMS. Burkett said there are 34 students in the special education class and 16 more in the resource center.
Burkett recommended Candice Dollar to fill the position. The Board approved the position, effective from March 7 to May 26.
The next Board meeting will be on April 3.

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