WASHINGTON -- Five Leilehua High Army JROTC students defeated more than 800 teams to win the top U.S. Army Service Award at CyberPatriot V, the nation's premier cyber defense competition held March 14-15, here.

The event marked the second straight year the "Mighty Mules" captured the Army Service Division Championship.

Leilehua High School's Cyber Warriors include students Sharon Thpsenavong, Michal Grajales, David Williams, Seth Allen and Kawika Lavarias.

All 50 states participated in the competition, which challenges students to develop solutions to real-life cyber security situations. Also, Best in Service Awards were presented to top JROTC teams by the Air Force, Navy, Marines, Civil Air Patrol and Naval Sea Cadets.

Through this rigorous competition, the Leilehua Cyber Warriors developed and applied real-world skills critical to strengthening national security. They were led by coach and senior JROTC Army instructor retired Lt. Col. Nick Spiridigliozzi; team mentor, retired Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Mike Herr; and Army instructors, retired Master Sgt. Ramon Ramos and retired Master Sgt. Bryan Wyatt.

The Leilehua High team advanced to the national championships after successfully completing three rounds of competition.

"We are extremely proud of our Cyber Warriors and coaches for their hard work and success keeping the top Army Service Award at our school," said Leilehua H. S. Principal Aloha Coleman.

"Congratulations to Leilehua High's CyberPatriot team for excelling at this prestigious competition for the second year in a row," said Hawaii Department of Education Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. "More importantly, students are returning home with valuable hands-on experience in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects that will help prepare them for college and careers."

The Air Force Association CyberPatriot Commissioner announced the launch of Hawaii's statewide involvement in the CyberPatriot competition on May 2011 at the headquarters of Hawaii technology firm Referentia, which operates the Hawaii Cyber Collaboration Center, created to support military commands, utility partners and mentor Hawaii's youth.

"You don't have to be a computer geek to be successful at CyberPatriot; you just need to have the desire to learn as much as possible from the entire CyberPatriot Experience, and to stay motivated and strive to always do your best!" said Spiridigliozzi.

Cyber security is a national concern, and the CyberPatriot program is designed to provide students with practical knowledge for post-secondary education and jobs in STEM fields.

"CyberPatriot is playing a role in developing more cyber-savvy citizens in this country, truly engaging students with hands-on learning toward real-world challenges and building America's technical workforce" said CyberPatriot Commissioner Bernie Skoch. "All of the finalists here have proven to be exceptionally talented students, building a keen understanding of the challenging tasks we have given them. I congratulate them all for being among the top 26 teams in the entire nation."

CyberPatriot is the national high school cyber defense competition created by the Air Force Association to excite, educate and motivate the next generation of cyber defenders and STEM graduates our nation needs.