Leadership matters. For my CyberPatriot trip to the National Finals, we had a leader that had emerged three years earlier. Lucas Nicodemus was our leader on the team and ran a tight ship! Our goal from 2010 was to return and Lucas spent the next three years making that goal a reality. Practices were complex and geared towards point acquisition and team optimization. We spent countless areas on areas that many other teams overlooked. There were no wasted efforts and the team became very focused. We made it to the National Finals and ended up 4th out of more than 5,000 teams nationwide.
When we arrived we learned that they had a couple of surprises for the teams. One of the additional pieces for the teams was a crime scene investigation competition. The teams had just a little bit of time to go into a room and “work the crime scene.” They had a mannequin that was wearing some clothes and a hat. The team had to find all of the electronic and non-electronic evidence. From that, they had to find where the “secret” file was and how to open it with just the information in front of them The file was encrypted and they needed to find the password. Any mistaken attempt counted against you. It was also a timed event for teams in case of ties the faster team would win. We had to designate a team captain for the competition. I made a decision on a feeling and Lucas wasn’t the team captain for this activity. For this competition, I selected LeeAnn as the captain. I just had a feeling that she had a better temperament for this competition. The kids had the scenario for some time before so they could plan. The kids attacked the mannequin and found all of the electronic and non-electronic pieces in just a few short minutes but making sure they selected the item that contained the secret file and the password was the hard part. LeeAnn was very efficient and remembered something from the scenario. The statement was made that the person under suspicion had to go back into the office before they left. She looked closely at his car keys and noticed that one of the decorations on the keyring was a thumb drive. They had the device. They examined everything and discovered that something was written on the tag for the hat which included the name of the company. They tentatively tried the thumb drive and it was right but closed their eyes and put in the password and the machine opened up the file for all to see.
We felt we had done well but we did not find out anything until the final banquet. When the Crime Scene Competition was called we found out that it was an activity they use for training federal agents. We won with a record time and not one point deduction. The picture for today is us on stage for the presentation. LeeAnn was a quiet and thoughtful person and as it turned out, the perfect team captain for this activity. Having the right leader for the right task is important and the right team to carry out the task is a perfect storm. That day in 2014 counts as one of my proudest days as a teacher. It was not for anything that I did but for providing the vehicle for these students to shine. ALL of the have gone on to successful lives and I hope that this work in high school helped them a little along the way.