Home Virginia to participate in poster contest, competition to raise cybersecurity awareness

Virginia to participate in poster contest, competition to raise cybersecurity awareness

Crystal Graham
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(© Seventyfour – stock.adobe.com)

The Virginia Information Technologies Agency and the Virginia Department of Education are announcing the Commonwealth of Virginia’s participation in two programs designed to raise cybersecurity awareness and offer cyber educational and scholarship opportunities for students.

The two programs are the 2023 Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) Kids Safe Online poster contest and 2022-2023 CyberStart America competition.

“As we work to build a strong cyber ecosystem in Virginia, education is a critically important part of the process, and we are thrilled to be a part of these programs that help our students become cyber-strong and cyber-smart,” said Chief Information Officer of the Commonwealth Robert Osmond.

“The CyberStart America competition and the Kids Safe Online poster contest are aligned with the content and objectives of the Computer Science Standards of Learning,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. “I encourage schools to make sure that students are aware of these opportunities to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity and potentially earn scholarships.”

Kids Safe Online poster contest

The goal for the MS-ISAC Kids Safe Online poster contest is to engage young people in actively using cybersecurity knowledge by creating posters to encourage their peers to use the internet safely and securely. The competition also gives teachers in classrooms across Virginia a chance to address and reinforce cybersecurity themes and online safety issues.

All students enrolled in kindergarten through grade 12 are eligible to participate.

Entries are accepted through Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023.

In the 2022 poster contest, Leila, a third-grader from Ashland Elementary in Manassas, was named a national winner in the contest.

CyberStart America competition

In the CyberStart America competition, students in grades 9 through 12 get access to CyberStart, a free, immersive cybersecurity training game.

By playing the game, students can learn more about cybersecurity and build skills that could prepare them for a career in technology.

Students may also qualify for cyber training scholarships worth more than $3,000.

Fifty three Virginia students were named as national scholars in the 2021-2022 CyberStart America competition. They earned a total of $159,000 in scholarships, according to a news release from the Virginia IT Agency.

”This shows how well Virginia’s investment in cyber education is working and highlights the talent of our students in the Commonwealth. We are very excited about the enthusiasm they have for learning about cybersecurity, and maybe even pursuing it as a career,” said Michael Watson, Chief Information Security Officer of the Commonwealth.

Registration for CyberStart America is open now.

Students may play CyberStart until Tuesday, April 4, 2023.

Students who have a high score in CyberStart will then be invited to apply for a scholarship, with scholarship winners being announced in early May 2023.

For more information on the poster contest and the competition, visit the VITA website.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.