NICE Community School District implements cybersecurity program into curriculum

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ISHPEMING, Mich. (WJMN) – In a time where technology and the internet seemingly rule all, NICE Community Schools and 21 other K-12 school districts and intermediate school districts are creating a curriculum from it.

They have teamed up with Northern Michigan University and a number of industry partners about a year and half ago after receiving a $2.5 million grant for a cybersecurity curriculum.

NICE Community School District Superintendent, Bryan DeAugustine, hopes to expose all the students to basic cybersecurity skills and ultimately allow for a potential career path after graduation.

“From what we understand there are about 800,000 jobs in this field and about $50 billion of earnings over the next several years, “said DeAugustine. “Everything is connected to the internet, and with cloud servers and things like that, personal devices getting protected, corporations, schools, organizations. It’s just a growing field that is really, really important.”

NMU created a cyber range hub which is secure internet access where students can attack and defend each other’s systems. DeAugustine described it as a “capture the flag scenario.”

Westwood High School has a team made up of six students that compete in cybersecurity competitions across the state. They have finished in the top 10 for the past two years. More recently, the team placed third in an Air Force challenge which qualifies them for a national competition.

Chloe Grochowski, a junior at Westwood High School, is currently on that team.

“I think it’s very beneficial because it helps with our leadership and our communication skills when solving with groups of people. And it really helps in the 21st Century to be apart of that cyber world and know what’s going on and to be aware,” said Grochowski.

Kindergarten through fifth-grade curriculum has already been created. The material gives students an awareness of their online footprint and how to keep personal devices safe. Sixth through the eighth-grade curriculum will teach the basics of cybersecurity and will lead students to a cyber citizenship badge. Currently in the developmental stage is cybersecurity courses. These courses would give high schoolers across the U.P. a year of studying in the field.

Westwood High School plans to have a cybersecurity class to begin next fall.

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