Great Mills High places second in state in CyberStart competition

Great Mills High School students Zoe Coughlan, left, Maya Lee, Venzah Hamilton and Holland Henderson-Boyer scored well in the CyberStart competition this spring.

Girls from Great Mills High School have discovered their hidden talent for cybersecurity this year with an exciting program, Girls Go CyberStart, designed to bridge the cybersecurity skills gap in the United States. During the program, girls across the country competed in a series of digital games and challenges to see if they have what it takes to make it in the cybersecurity industry.

Over 10,000 girls across 27 states took part in the first stage of the program, CyberStart Assess, according to a release.

At the end of that round, 6,600 girls performed so highly that they received invitations to take part in the second round, CyberStart Game, which pited teams against a series of increasingly difficult cybersecurity challenges to win points for their school.

For the first month of CyberStart Game, girls applied their cyber skills to accumulate points, vying to be one the schools invited to the third and final stage. Great Mills High students found out their score qualified them for The National Championship for Girls Go CyberStart 2019. Here 120 school teams, each comprised of four girls, competed in a national online Capture the Flag competition from June 5 to June 7.

“Congratulations to all the schools through to the National Championship round of Girls Go CyberStart! It’s fantastic to be able to celebrate and bring to light the hidden-talents of high school girls across the U.S.,” Alan Paller, research director at SANS Institute, said in the release.

The team from Great Mills, GMHS GirlsWhoCode, scored well enough to place second in the state of Maryland. Each participant will receive a cash prize. Members of the team are Zoe Coughlan, Venzah Hamilton, Maya Lee and Holland Henderson-Boyer.

“Girls Go Cyberstart was an amazing opportunity to practice, refine, and display our cybersecurity skills,” Lee said in the release. “This competition showed us that no matter how far we go, we still have more to learn. Achieving second place in the state of Maryland was an honor and we plan to do it again next year.”

“We are very proud of all the GMHS girls that worked on the CyberStart challenges. Our school was also recognized for the number of participants in the first stage of the competition,” Nora Blasko, team coach and computer science teacher said in the release. “This team’s accomplishments are a result of their hard work and dedication. They have honed their cybersecurity skills over the past few years as members of CyberPatriot teams and competing in other online Capture the Flag competitions.”

Girls Go CyberStart is a national cybersecurity program designed specifically for high school girls to encourage more females into the industry and reduce the digital skills gap. Girls need to be at least 13 years old and either in grade 9, 10, 11 or 12 to qualify. The program awards winning participants with cash prizes of up to $1,000 and college scholarships of $500.