Haddonfield Computer Science Club receives accolades in National Cyber Scholarship Foundation

Students placed as National Cyber Finalists, semi-finalists and President Thea Spellmeyer won National Cyber Scholar, which includes a $3,000 scholarship to attend the Cyber Foundation Academy.

From left to right, HMHS Students Sinjin Spellmeyer, Thea Spellmeyer, Helene Usher, and Moira Geiger (Special to The Sun/The Sun)National Cyber Finalists, and President Thea Spellmeyer won National Cyber Scholar, which includes a $3,000 scholarship to attend the Cyber Foundation Academy.

Several Haddonfield Memorial High School (HMHS) Computer Science Club students  received accolades in this year’s National Cyber Scholarship Foundation (NCSF)  competition. Club Secretary Moira Geiger earned National Cyber Semi-Finalist, VP  Sinjin Spellmeyer and Treasurer Helene Usher finished as National Cyber Finalists, and  President Thea Spellmeyer won National Cyber Scholar, which includes a $3,000 scholarship to attend the Cyber Foundation Academy. The mission of the non-profit  NCSF is to identify, nurture and empower the next generation of cybersecurity experts  and eliminate the cybersecurity skills gap in the United States. 

This year’s 2021 CyberStart America game cycle ran from October 27, 2021 to April 27, 2022 and included more than 50,000 student participants nationwide. In New Jersey,  there were 3,894 student participants from 233 schools. Of these New Jersey  competitors, there were 417 Semi-finalists, 274 Finalists, and 124 Scholars who earned  $372,000 in scholarships. 

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The HMHS Computer Science Club recruited ten new CyberStart contestants this year  through the NJCCIC Cyber Ambassador Program. Weekly meetings focused on  CyberStart’s security training module, which utilizes gamified real-world hacking  challenges within four bases – Intern, Headquarters, Forensics (cyberattacks), and  Moon (Python programming). These challenges cover both offensive and defensive  cybersecurity disciplines. 

Students find themselves “accidentally” learning while they are doing things such as  decoding hidden data or examining digital safety measures for vulnerabilities. Training,  including an extensive field manual, is embedded in the game, so no previous  experience is required. This year, through CyberStart America, the capture-the-flag competition focused on accruing points within the training platform, with live scores  posted on group leaderboards. The 200+ security challenges involve scenarios such as hacking into a fake website and writing code, or investigating source code to find the  URL for a non-working image, and then editing that URL to reveal the image and its  flag. After successfully cracking codes and finding security flaws, more difficult  challenge levels unlock.  

The HMHS Computer Science Club recently hosted a workshop at the Haddonfield  Library where current students and incoming freshmen learned more about the club,  high school computer science course offerings, and tried some ethical hacking through  hands-on experience of real-world cybersecurity tasks and simulations. Computer  Science teacher Matthew Leighty is the Club Advisor. High school students interested in the club can contact Thea Spellmeyer at TSpellmeyer05@gmail.com. 

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