News from Patrick Henry High School – April 21, 2017

By Elizabeth Gillingham | News from Patrick Henry High School

Henry team national finalists in cyber competition

A local team of Henry students traveled to Baltimore, Maryland, April 3–6, to compete in the CyberPatriot IX National Finals Competition.

Since 2009, CyberPatriot’s National Youth Cyber Defense Competition has challenged teams of two to six students to harden simulated computer systems and resolve real-life cybersecurity situations faced by industry professionals.

(l to r) Quinn Razak, Amy Nguyen, team captain Liam Weinfurtner, Daniel Khuu, Parker Frye and Anne Nguyen. (Courtesy PHHS)

The competition provides students hands-on experience securing computer networks while exciting, educating and motivating them toward careers in cybersecurity and other STEM fields.

Led by Senior Naval Science instructor Ron Flaherty, the PHHS National Finalist team is one of 12 All Service Division teams to advance from a pool of over 2,000. Members include captain Liam Weinfurtner and Daniel Khuu, Quinn Razak, Parker Frye, Amy Nguyen and Anne Nguyen.

The CyberPatriot competition consists of two high school divisions, with public, private and home schools competing in the Open Division and Junior ROTC units, Naval Sea Cadet Corps and Civil Air Patrol squadrons competing in the All Service Division, as well as a Middle School Division.

In all, more than 4,400 teams registered to participate in CyberPatriot IX. Registered teams represented all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Canada and U.S. Department of Defense Dependent Schools in Europe and the Pacific.

Following two preliminary rounds in November and December, CyberPatriot IX teams were categorized within their divisions as Platinum, Gold or Silver Tier teams, with Platinum Tier teams representing the highest scoring teams and the only teams eligible to advance all the way to National Finals. During an additional two elimination rounds, the Henry team demonstrated the teamwork, critical thinking skills, and technical knowledge necessary to distinguish itself from other Platinum Tier teams and win its coveted National Finalist spot.

During the competitions, teams competed to defend virtual networks and mobile devices from a professional aggressor team. The National Finalists also faced off in three additional competition components: the Cisco Networking Challenge, the Leidos Digital Forensics Challenge and the Facebook Cybersecurity Challenge. These extra challenges exposed competitors to new elements and skillsets of the many career opportunities available to them.  

Speech contest winner, Student of the Month

Margaret Polterak (Courtesy PHHS)

After a member of the Sunrise Optimist Club gave a presentation inviting students to participate in an oratory contest, senior Margaret Poltorak entered and worked with PHHS teacher Mr. Mark Frerichs, who generously gave of his time to coach her on her speech.

Several hundred students across the city were invited to participate in the contest and the field was narrowed down to seven contestants. Five students gave speeches to the club on March 14 at Marie Callender’s, during their monthly meeting. Poltorak, was one of three finalists earning a certificate and medallion.

In addition, Poltorak happens to also be Kiwanis Student of the month for March. Out of all of our students of the month, Poltorak received the largest push from the faculty at Henry, demonstrating what an outstanding recipient she is for this award.

Teacher Taunya Robinson wrote the following in her recommendation letter:

“From now until eternity, what we define as an overachieving Patriot will have to be defined by all the things that Margaret Poltorak has done for our school. She’s truly an inspiration to her classmates, staff members, and community here at PHHS.

“Margaret deserves respect from everyone because she embodies the ‘Golden Rule’ of how to treat others. Besides being the backbone to our Peer Mediators program, she’s active in drama — starring as Ursula in this year’s production of ‘The Little Mermaid;’ is a leading member of the Improv team; has joined the Academic League team; plays lacrosse like a boss (also field hockey but I couldn’t make anything rhyme with it); is still actively a part of her Girl Scout troop; and is just an overwhelming bright presence to be around. Did I mention she also finds the time to be a part of this year’s WASC committee and has no problem voicing her opinion or thoughts with all the staff and parents involved?

“She entered my AP Psychology class a few weeks after everyone else because she transferred from Ms. Haff’s class due to other schedule changes. Margaret jumped right in and made herself a part of our community. Within a week, she was partaking in a rap battle to prove why the medulla oblongata was the most important part of the brain. Margaret has also dedicated herself to the course by coming in for extra help when needed, stopping by on a regular basis to discuss the material, and keeping her table mates accountable for reading assignments.

“Margaret will be attending Ohio State University and is bound to continue with her path towards excellence!”


San Diego Allstate agency owner Mark Silverstone and students at Patrick Henry High School raised community awareness of the dangers of distracted driving by hosting an X The TXT event on March 17.

ASB students spent their lunch period encouraging teen peers and school faculty to pledge not to text and drive. Students and adults alike pledged by placing their thumb print on an “X The TXT” banner and received a “TXTNG KLLS” affinity thumb band and “TXTNG KLLS” bracelet to wear that serves as a daily reminder of their commitment to drive without cellphone distractions.

Students learned about the dangers of texting and driving at the X the TXT event. (Courtesy of PHHS)

Those who pledged not to text and drive also learned startling facts about the dangerous and potentially deadly habit:

  • Texting makes us 23 times more likely to crash.
  • It’s the equivalent of driving after drinking four beers.
  • It takes drivers’ eyes off the road on average of five seconds per text. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of a football field without seeing the road.
    Silverstone said that the problems of distracted driving are preventable and the goal of the X The TXT program is to equip teens with the information they need to make good choices while driving or when they are a passenger in any car. They will become the ambassadors to bring safe-driving messages to their classmates and to their parents and community.

A Bridge For Kids Essay winner

Zhenyao Cai, a senior from Patrick Henry High School, won the fifth annual A Bridge for Kids Essay Contest and a $500 third place prize. Cai’s essay bested over 250 entries from students at over 20 high schools throughout San Diego County and was judged to make the top 10 by a panel of 10 local judges.

A Bridge for Kids is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to the raising and distribution of funds to underprivileged teens in need, through a child sponsorship program.

(l to r) Michael Nance, Zhenyao Cai and Elizabeth Gillingham (Courtesy of PHHS)

The essay contest was open to any student who wanted to submit an original essay of 750 words or fewer describing their thoughts on the following topic: What is the biggest challenge you have had to overcome? How did you overcome it and how did that affect your life?

A panel of volunteers judged the essays and the winners were picked based on the creativity, originality, clarity and overall impact of the essay. President and founder of A Bridge for Kids, Michael Nance, awarded Cai with a letter and gave the specifics about the scholarship. Cai’s essay highlighted the process of migrating from China to the United States and how he learned English and excelled over time.

Boy’s Baseball Team wins Lion’s Tournament

Congratulations to PHHS Varsity Baseball Team who were named the Champions of the Division 6A 2017 Lions Invitational Baseball Tournament held at West Hills High School in Santee.

The Patrick Henry Varsity Baseball Team (Courtesy of PHHS)

After playing in a semi-final match beating Steel Canyon, they came up on top in the finals beating Point Loma 5-2 in a very competitive game. Go Patriots!

—Elizabeth Gillingham is principal of Patrick Henry High School.

Loading Facebook Comments ...

Leave a Comment