MOULTRIE – Students within the Colquitt County School District and from neighboring school systems gathered Monday morning to explore the cyber security field during the second Colquitt County High School Marine Corps Junior ROTC CyberCamp.
Lt. Col. Jason Perdew, the CCHS Junior ROTC program adviser, has been coaching the local CyberPatriot team for the last six years. He coached two teams at CCHS in 2021, and he had two teams at his previous school for three years.
“CyberPatriot, which this camp is based on, is a national competition sponsored by the Air Force. They’re trying to raise the next generation of cyber warriors so you can learn to defend the network,” he told students during an introduction.
He continued, “Last year my team finished the state [competition] for Marine Corps and made it to the semi-final round in the Gold division which is pretty good and [shows] improvement there. We’re hoping to go farther every year.”
The camp varies from one to two weeks depending on the student’s experience level. The beginner’s course began Monday, June 5, and will complete Friday, June 9. The advanced course will run Monday, June 12, to Friday, June 16.
All week, students will learn the basics of cybersecurity, and be instructed by Perdew and periodically from Pierre Rogers, the systems administrator of Southern Regional Technical College at the Moultrie campus. They will learn the basics of Windows System Administration and Security, an introduction to Linux and Ubuntu, and Ubuntu Security.
Rogers told the students that the cybersecurity field could lead to endless opportunities and a lucrative career if they continue with it throughout school and college.
On Friday, the students will participate in a competition that will give them first hand experience of what CyberPatriot is like.
CCHS Senior JROTC cadet Michael Marshall said attending a cybersecurity camp is beneficial if the student plans to participate in a CyberPatriot Team. Perdew announced that Marshall will be this year’s CyberPatriot Team captain.
“I’m hoping that most of the beginners come in knowing a good chunk of knowledge and be able to catch on with things very quickly. Most of the information from this camp is very helpful to CyberPatriot,” Marshall said.
When Marshall entered the team, he did not have any prior knowledge about cybersecurity. He said if he entered the team with the knowledge provided by the camp then it would have helped them advance higher in competitions.
The camp was open for rising sixth to 12th-grade students. The participating students came from the local junior high and middle school as well as from Cairo High School, Lowndes County High School, Westover High School, and Valdosta High School.
Lt. Col. Don Mills, senior Marine instructor for Westover High, said the Albany school has just started its own CyberPatriot team, and this is it’s first year participating in the CyberCamp.
“The way that the world is going now as far as AI [artificial intelligence] and all kinds of other threats throughout there and even the political situation with Russia, I think the importance of cybersecurity is paramount for the near future,” Mills said.
Peter Dominicis, who is Lowndes County High School’s senior aerospace science instructor, said his school has had a cybersecurity program for seven years.
“The importance of the camp is exposing kids to a possible future career,” Dominicis said. “There’s no doubt that we need cyber specialists. If it at least lights a fire in them to seek it out as a career possibility then that’s a good thing.”
To learn more about the CyberPatriot program and how to involve your child, please email Perdew at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (229) 890-6141 ext: 21675.