Public PK-12 School District in Dalton, Georgia

Dalton Public Schools News

DPS Named CyberStart District of Distinction
Student looking at computer

Dalton Public Schools has been named a CyberStart District of Distinction by the National Cyber Scholarship Foundation. Dalton High School was recognized as a Cyber Opportunity School.  

Last week, Governor Brian P. Kemp announced Georgia’s participation in CyberStart America, an innovative, online cybersecurity talent search and competition sponsored by the National Cyber Scholarship Foundation (NCSF) and the SANS Institute. The competition is open to all high school students to explore their aptitude for cybersecurity and computer science, with participants able to win scholarships and prizes and recognition for their schools. A partnership between the University of North Georgia, the Georgia Cyber Center at Augusta University, Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI), and the Georgia Department of Education created "CyberStart America in Georgia" to promote CyberStart within the state and provide $100,000 in cash prizes to Georgia students, teachers, and schools.

"As the need for cybersecurity personnel continues to grow for American businesses, our state is uniquely positioned to provide the workforce that will meet this need," said Governor Brian Kemp. "Thank you to the University of North Georgia, Georgia Cyber Center at Augusta University, Georgia Tech Research Institute, and Georgia Department of Education for working to bring this project to fruition. CyberStart America will offer our students the opportunity to find their place in a fast-growing cybersecurity industry."

To address the significant shortage of cybersecurity professionals, CyberStart America offers a free, entertaining opportunity to excite high school students about the field. Registration is open until the game ends, April 27th, 2022. As of February, Georgia is second in the nation for registrations with over 4,600 students from more than 200 schools participating.

Wiley Dailey, deputy superintendent at Dalton Public Schools, said that CyberStart America is a great tool to help prepare students for a future career in cybersecurity. 

“This free game developed by the National Cyber Scholarship Foundation helps teach students critical thinking skills that will be needed for careers in cybersecurity,” Dailey said. “The game uses students' performance as a cyber talent identifier for jobs and scholarships. It also meets several requirements in the Georgia Standards of Excellence for Computer Science which is the course that Dr. Joey Wills teaches his students at Dalton High School.” 

As a CyberStart District of Distinction, Dailey said that Dalton High School will receive financial prizes for both the school and a select group of students. 

“The top ten school districts in Georgia with the highest number of students registered are labeled Districts of Distinction with Dalton Public Schools being one of those districts,” Dailey said.  “Dalton High School will also receive the Cyber Opportunity School prize of $5,000 for Dr. Wills to use towards his program. Additionally, 6 prizes of $500 will be awarded to Dalton High students who score the highest CyberStart America points.” 

Cybersecurity threats from all around the world are a critical issue for the state and country. Those interested in the field can find successful careers protecting personal data and the operations of organizations like hospitals, schools, corporations, and government agencies, with cybersecurity jobs in nearly every industry. Critical skills are also needed by military and intelligence agencies helping to shape the future of cyber conflict and defense. Currently, there is a need for tens of thousands of additional cybersecurity professionals, requiring a robust cybersecurity workforce pipeline.

The CyberStart America program is a series of online challenges that allow students to act as cyber protection agents, solving cybersecurity-related puzzles and exploring related topics such as code breaking, programming, networking, and digital forensics. Participating students and their teachers do not need prior knowledge or experience in information technology or cybersecurity to take part. The program is free for participants, and all Georgia students in grades 9-12 are invited.

Students who do well in the program can earn access to scholarships and advanced training. Last year 32,000 students from 4,800 schools around the country participated, including 400 Georgia students, and NCSF awarded over $4 million in scholarships and advanced training, with 15 Georgians taking home top honors and scholarships.

This year, the CyberStart America in Georgia partners teamed up to raise $100,000 from the private sector to fund district, school, and student incentives for the game. The district level prizes were determined based on total student registrations as of December 31, 2021.

To learn more about CyberStart America, visit cyberstartamerica.org. High school students should register via this website to play for free.