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Suffern NY High School offers three-year Cybersecurity Academy | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #ransomware

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In September, the Suffern Central School District began its Cybersecurity Academy. It is a three-year program aimed at teaching advanced hardware and software knowledge, coding and networking skills, building collaborative problem-solving skills and performing under pressure while preparing for national competitions. The program also prepares students for industry certification exams to enter the workforce or continue on to college to further their education.

Suffern High School’s Cybersecurity Academy teacher Ariel Sanzo instructs her class.

“(The students are) really excited. I’m lucky enough to be teaching over 60 students. I have three sections of this course and the perspective for everyone individually is different,” said Ariel Sanzo, Suffern’s Cybersecurity Academy instructor. “Some of them are ready to start hacking now, and wanting to understand the good, the bad, how do I become more knowledgeable. Versus other kids who want to do more of the ‘oh I want to help people become more informed.’ They’ve been researching careers; they’ve been looking at colleges. It’s really been great to see them get excited. Not only about their personal education and where this program is going but also what it is going to look like in five years because who knows what security is going to look like. Who knows what technology can hold.”


Suffern High School student Sophia Poelsen works on her workstation Nov. 3 in the Cybersecurity Academy classroom at Suffern High School.

The Cybersecurity Academy program benefits students with “everything from digital literacy to just expanding upon common skills from day-to-day, whether it be like, hey, is this a phishing email to I need to change my password every 90 days,” Sanzo said.


Suffern High School student Matthew Block works on his workstation in the Cybersecurity Academy classroom.

“They have amazing opportunities just participating in this program,” Sanzo said.

At the end of the three years of the program, she said, students will be able to sit for a certification exam, which will allow them to immediately become employed for positions that don’t require a college education. Then, if they so choose, they could be working and earning a degree in the field of their choice simultaneously.


Sanzo, left, works with student Jordan Samuel at his workstation.

“The idea (for the class) came from the superintendent (Erik Gunderson),” said Jenny Mirmelstein, director of communications and community relations for Suffern Central School District. “He is part of an organization called the League of Innovative Schools. That’s a national organization that works to bring new programs and new ways of thinking to the schools. We’re working with League of Innovative Schools and this company called Digital Promise … we are one of 12 schools in the country that were picked to be a part of this cybersecurity program.”

Suffern High School's Cybersecurity Academy teacher Ariel Sanzo performs tasks on her laptop. Friday, November 3, 2023.

Sanzo teaches a Cybersecurity Academy class Nov. 3.

“We have sophomores, juniors and seniors in the program now, so we are currently exploring partnerships, like for our juniors, RCC, which is right around the corner, has a phenomenal cybersecurity program … (we are) trying to see where the transitions will be smooth for them to provide them their opportunities because they can’t do the full three years with us,” Sanzo said.

Suffern High School's Cybersecurity Academy teacher Ariel Sanzo, right, works with Tyler Williams at his workstation. Friday, November 3, 2023.

Sanzo, right, works with student Tyler Williams at his workstation.


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