Eight Cherokee County School District cybersecurity students earned scholarships through a national career skills competition, with four more receiving special honors.
The students earned the $500 scholarships and accolades from CyberStart America, a national organization established to provide high school students with free access to cybersecurity learning resources written and developed by industry professionals.
The organization sponsors an annual competition that tests students’ cybersecurity skills. Two CCSD students scored in the top 20 in Georgia and earned $500 awards and additional scholarship opportunities from the National Cyber Scholarship Foundation: Class of 2022 graduate Brandon Aumick of River Ridge HS and Class of 2022 graduate Wesley Walker of Woodstock HS. They recently were honored by CyberStart at an awards ceremony held at the University of North Georgia.
CCSD last school year was named one of Georgia’s 10 Districts of Distinction by CyberStart America. This designation earned CCSD a $5,000 Cyber Opportunity School prize for cyber training and teacher stipends and provided six $500 prizes for CCSD students who earned the highest CyberStart scores by the end of April. The winners, who also earned additional National Cyber Scholarship Foundation scholarship opportunities and were recognized at the awards ceremony, are: Class of 2022 graduate Maulik Durani of River Ridge HS, Class of 2022 graduate Cooper Jackson of Cherokee HS, Class of 2022 graduate Michael Mutongi of Cherokee HS, Class of 2022 graduate Tristen Rivera-Steinkritz of Sequoyah HS, rising senior Brendan Rives of Woodstock HS and Class of 2022 graduate Bradley Stewart of Cherokee HS.
Three CCSD students were honored as CyberStart Scholars and qualified for National Cyber Scholarship Foundation scholarship opportunities: Class of 2022 graduate Gabriel Crittenden of Cherokee HS, Class of 2022 graduate Kian Esmaeli of Woodstock HS and Class of 2022 graduate Edgar Reynoso-Garcia of Cherokee HS. Class of 2022 graduate Bridger Putzer of River Ridge HS was honored as a CyberStart Finalist and earned a badge of distinction.
CyberStart’s goal is to encourage students to pursue careers in the high-demand field by offering opportunities to explore and enhance their abilities and skills and compete for scholarships.
The honored CCSD students studied cybersecurity through the Career Pathway program in the field at CCSD’s newly opened Cherokee College & Career Academy or through the computer science Career Pathway program at Woodstock HS. The academy, also known as C3, is housed on CCSD’s ACTIVE Academies campus in Canton and offers students the opportunity to take Career Pathway classes not offered at their high school campus. The program began last school year with cybersecurity and is expanding this coming school year to include courses in unmanned aircraft systems and flight operations, with opportunities for students to earn FAA certification in small unmanned aircraft systems and pilot ground operations.
“Congratulations to these students and their teachers for setting a high standard for our cybersecurity program,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “This is an outstanding career path for our students, and we’re so proud of their dedication to learning and representing our school district with excellence.”