Springfield schools place in Missouri cybersecurity challenge

Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– Kickapoo High School recently placed 5th in Missouri’s Cybersecurity Challenge. The challenge is a multi-round competition that tests a student’s ability to figure out what is safe online. 

A team of three students from west plains high school placed 11th – and they say it’s a big improvement after not making the finals last year. 

11 teams from eight school districts around Missouri were finalists in the cybersecurity challenge.

“Mostly just a bunch of simpler riddles or challenges that would test your knowledge on computer science, coding, or cybersecurity and stuff like that,” West Plains High School sophomore Elliot Gerlick said. 

Kickapoo High School student Collin Harrell participated, using multiple machines. 

“It’s by finding out the vulnerabilities in other machines and various platforms that we can determine how to be safe by determining what’s not safe,” Harrell said. 

Logan Hanland says west plains making the list of finalists was remarkable — considering snow days got in the way of practice. 

“Coming back and being able to place anything was really awesome,” Hanland said. “It was a big honor, and super proud of the whole team.” 

“I was super excited and proud for them to have the opportunity, and it was nice to see them place,” West Plains High School cybersecurity coach Jerry Weimer said. 

Springfield senior Paul Wilkerson says Kickapoo’s ranking feels good. 

“I’ve always enjoyed cybersecurity and it does, it feels pretty good to be representing Kickapoo in this kind of way,” Wilkerson said.

“Perseverance I think is a critical skill that they demonstrate and enhance through a competition like this. They’re hard-working, great, young students and they have a real bright future,” Kickapoo High School cybersecurity coach Scott Neeman said. 

After the competition, both schools suggest looking into a website’s privacy policy before just clicking accept.

“I’d be pretty cautious about those things. There’s a lot of things that go in depth that are pretty dangerous,” West Plains High School junir Kaleb Vaughan said. 

“Just give a quick glance at it because it tells you exactly what data they’re looking at, what they get from you, what they get from other people. So, it’s very useful to know what you’re getting into,” Harrell said. 

Paul Wilkerson says he wants to study cybersecurity in college and get a job in the field. 

Both teams weren’t all business and no play as they had goofy team names. West Plains was Holy Guacamole and Kickapoo was Lua Leopards.

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