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Cybersecurity program helps students prepare for workforce | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #ransomware


CINCINNATI — At the Cyber Academy at Lakota West High School, Christopher Barber gears up to continue his work that’s helped him decide what he wants to do after high school


What You Need To Know

  • The Cyber Academy at Lakota high schools is the largest cybersecurity program in the Midwest
  • The program started four years ago and is a three-year program that focuses on getting students ready for the workforce or to study computer science in college
  • Christopher Barber is a senior and one of just eight students nationally recognized for the Cybersecurity National Signing Day
  • Lakota East was recently ranked the top high school cyber program in the country

The three-year program started four years ago, and for Barber, it was his teacher that convinced him to try it out. 

“When he said you could get jobs right out of high school with six figures within the first five years of working, I was like that sounds like something I should at least look at,” Barber said.

Christopher Barber works on a program in the Cyber Academy (Spectrum News 1/Katie Kapusta)

The program has more than 200 students, making it the largest cybersecurity program in the Midwest. And when the program started, it was actually local Cincinnati businesses that had the demand. Now those business leaders meet with students on a monthly basis

“When we first started thinking about cybersecurity and launching this program, the idea came from our business partners here in the district,” Ben Dougherty, the cybersecurity instructor at Lakota schools, said. “It was really the local business community, the chamber alliance, who came to us and said cybersecurity is the future. We need students who are in the area, who are local talent, who know how to do this.”

Local business leaders meet with students like Barber. (Spectrum News 1/Katie Kapusta)

For Barber, cybersecurity has become a passion.

“I’m very confident in this path for myself,” he said.

Whether it’s conventions or competitions, the senior and basketball player said the fast-paced work appealed to him.

Barber said his athletic background drew him to cybersecurity. (Spectrum News 1/Katie Kapusta)

“I credit it to my background in being an athlete,” he said. “I just like competition. I just like being able to see the score go up. It was fun working on the puzzle, getting gratification of clicking submit and the green pop-up, you did it, and all that fun stuff.”

The program is garnering national attention, with Lakota East recently named the top high school cybersecurity program in the nation. Barber was one of just eight students in the country to be recognized at the National Cyber Signing Day event. 

Barber was recognized at National Cyber Signing Day. (Lakota Local School District)

“Having lots of people who I may not know being like ‘we’re really impressed by you,’ it’s great to hear but also it can be overwhelming and a bit intimidating,” Barber said.

Barber plans to study computer science or cybersecurity in college and also hopes to play basketball. He said that thanks to the Cyber Academy, he feels prepared to enter the field. 

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