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.
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.