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Cybersecurity team students Rian Blauvelt, Miles Howell, Bodie Franks, Jaime Pengilly, and Madison Hyust. (Photo courtesy Robin Robertson)

Off the Field: RHS Students Enter Cybersecurity Competition

We’ll step Off the Field to take a closer look at some of the Republic students who are competing in non-sports activities. Our report is brought to you by State Farm Agent Sarah Rader. Talk to her about how you can save money by combining your home and auto insurance.

In the sports world, Republic launched its newest team this fall, with the addition of swimming. But off the field, RHS has begun competing in another new event: Cybersecurity.

Advisor Robin Robertson said there were several reasons that the high school created the cybersecurity course that led to creation of a competitive team, beginning with the fact that students had expressed interest in taking it.

“It is one of the computer science courses offered through [classroom program] Project Lead The Way. Cybersecurity jobs are in high demand and there is a big shortage of people applying for those jobs,” Robertson said. “Republic’s Key Communicators committee identified the need to offer more [Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math] courses for Republic students.”

The cybersecurity competition is organized by MOREnet, a Missouri educational network. It’s purpose is to attract students to cybersecurity jobs, according to Robertson. The competition consists of a series of quizzes about cybersecurity concepts.

Robertson believes the competitive aspect of the event helps students learn the material better than simply being in a classroom setting.

“These types of competitions get students excited about learning the content for the course and going beyond the content to try and win the competition,” she said. “These competitions are a net positive for kids, because they come out of them knowing a lot more than they would have known without competing.”

Miles Howell is one of the Republic students who participated in the competition this fall. He enrolled in the cybersecurity class this fall because of his interest in computer science. “I enjoyed working together as a team to complete the computer science problems,” he said of the competition.”

But because the work was completed online, Howell said the cybersecurity competition didn’t necessarily stoke the same competitive fire as other computer science contests he’s participated in.

” I do enjoy other competitions like Hack4Good and others, because they are in-person competitions and you can actually see the other teams,” he said. “Basically, there wasn’t a big feel of competition with the Cybersecurity competition, and that is something I enjoy.”

Robertson said the in-person component of competition can be a good opportunity for students for another reason, too.

“At some competitions, students will also meet industry professionals that are looking for ways to attract new talent in the area,” she said.

Neither or Republic’s teams qualified to advance to more competition this month, partly because the content of the quizzes covered topics that hadn’t yet been covered by Republic’s new cybersecurity course in its first few weeks of existence. “We have only been learning about personal security in cyber and the competition covered all areas of cybersecurity,” Robertson said.

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