Six Thornton Academy students took time out of their February vacation to come to school and compete in the Girls Go CyberStart Challenge.
The team of Kristina Arabatzis, Jenica Botting, Fiona Green, and Greta Hemenway learned on February 27 that it was time well spent, as they placed second in Maine and 50th overall in the United States for the challenge.
The Girls Go CyberStart Challenge is sponsored by the SANS Institute, a non-profit organization that provides opportunities for research and training in computer and online information security. The challenge features games, puzzles, and technical challenges that are designed to increase interest among females in cybersecurity and encourage girls to pursue education and careers in related fields.
Sophomore Greta Hemenway perfects her computer skills in Graphic Design class.
By finishing 2nd in the state, the team won $500 for the school as well as a Raspberry Pi computer & $50 gift card for each team member.
Technology and New Media Teacher Lori Smith organized the challenge for Thornton Academy and pulled the girls together.
“I really enjoyed working with both teams of young women! It was a pleasure to watch them work together through the problems and persevere through some really tricky puzzles. I think they all learned a little more about what a career in cyber security might be like, in terms of the problem solving skills needed,” Smith said.
Shelby Heiman '20, Greta Hemenway '20, Kristina Arabatzis '20, Fiona Green '18, Jenica Botting '19 and Skyler Libby '18 (on floor) met at school during February vacation to compete in the Girls Go CyberStart Challenge.
Senior Fiona Green has taken two computer programming classes and is currently enrolled in AP Computer Science. She is planning on pursuing a career in computer programming.
“Taking the computer programming classes at TA has made me better at finding solutions to problems and understanding how computers and programming languages work. Girls Go Cyberstart has made me interested in getting involved in cyber security,” Green said.
Junior Jenica Botting understands how cybersecurity affects life for all computer users on a daily basis.
“Living in a world full of technology, people have many accounts on the internet. Some of which are very important and could be dangerous to the owner if taken. Cyber security and coding help to keep those accounts and all the information safe from others trying to take it and use it to their benefit,” Botting said.