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Red River Earns a Top Spot in High School Cybersecurity Championships

News Release                                                  

For Immediate Release                                                                

June 4, 2020

Red River Earns a Top Spot in High School Cybersecurity Championships

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Students from Red River High School took 1st place in the state of North Dakota in the Girls Go CyberStart U.S. national high school cybersecurity competition.

The team of Alexis Crane, Nina Jang, Angelica Knudsen, and Narria Neubert battled more than 360 other high school teams that qualified for the national championship, which was played May 20-21.

The championships were the culmination of a 5-month multi-stage contest that began in January when Governor Burgum announced the opening of the competition and encouraged North Dakota girls to participate. The participants had to demonstrate that they could master hands-on hacking, forensics, and cyber defensive skills by solving real-world cybersecurity problems.

“I am so proud of our girls,” said Paul Zettler, advisor of the Red River program. “This is our second year participating in this program and our girls set a goal of qualifying for the national competition this year. That was a lofty goal and even with a pandemic and all the hurdles they faced, they not only qualified, but they were also the top team from North Dakota. Even more impressive considering that every girl on the team is a sophomore. We look forward to more great things from these girls.”

Over 15,000 girls registered to participate in the program this year, with 1,540 qualifying for the National Championship. Being selected for the championship was a significant accomplishment as only 36% of schools made it that far. The top-scoring teams in the final round, both nationally and per state, competed for cash prizes for team members and their school.

“Girls Go CyberStart is an excellent program that let me and many other girls slightly delve into the cybersecurity world in a fun and engaging manner,” said Knudsen. “I learned so much about cybersecurity throughout the program, from finding hidden web pages to deciphering texts and much more. During the national competition, I had to use this knowledge to complete as many challenges as possible in two days with my team. Girls Go CyberStart has been an amazing experience for me, and I'm very excited for next year!”

In its first three years, more than 32,000 U.S high school girls have participated in Girls Go CyberStart and many have discovered a hidden talent for cybersecurity. The program is designed to help fill the shortage of people with cybersecurity skills in the United States.

“It’s important to acknowledge the hurdles many of the girls faced to play in the National Championship especially during a pandemic when they were trying to collaborate virtually with team members and just the frustration of not being together,” said Mandy Galante, CyberStart Program Director. “But these talented girls stuck with it and demonstrated they have perseverance, one of the most important characteristics of a cybersecurity pro.”

For more information, please visit https://www.cyberstartus.org/ or https://medium.com/girls-go-cyberstart.

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