A team of girls from Greenbrier Junior High and Greenbrier High School were selected for the national championship round of Girls Go CyberStart.

Girls Go CyberStart s a national cybersecurity program designed to encourage more females to go into the field and reduce the digital skills gap. The program is open to girls in grades ninth through 12th and awards winning participants with cash prizes of up to $1,000 and college scholarships of $500.

“When I first heard of the CyberStart competition, I honestly didn’t think it would be my thing. Sure it sounded cool, but changing and rearranging code for a website or program just seemed plain difficult,” Greenbrier Junior High School student Lydia Dunlap said. “I’m not the computer tech kind of girl, but when I first started to play around with the website, I enjoyed it. Completing the levels and getting the answers seemed to be one of the most exhilarating things. My classmates could regularly hear me yelling that I figured a challenge out. This experience has made me realize that I am more of a technology lover than I thought, and that this competition is empowering for both me and the other girls on our team.“

The program consists of three stages: CyberStart Assess, CyberStart Game and The National Championship for Girls Go CyberStart 2019.

“It has been incredible to watch our computer science program grow over the last two years, and there is clearly a high level of interest from Greenbrier students,” Director of Teaching and Learning Kelli Martin said. “Competitions such as this, along with student clubs and new courses being offered (including a new Advanced Information Security course at GHS next year), are making our growing CS program even stronger. Excitement among our CS students and teachers is obvious, and we’re proud to have two schools competing nationally.”

More than 10,000 girls from 27 states took part in the first stage. At the end of that round, 6,600 girls — including those from Greenbrier — performed highly enough to advance to the second round.

“Last week both the high school and junior high girls found out their score qualified them for The National Championship for Girls Go CyberStart 2019,” school officials said in a news release.

At the national championship, 120 teams of four girls will compete in a national online Capture the Flag competition. The top-scoring teams will win cash prizes for themselves and their schools.

“We could not be more proud of our girls at both campuses for this achievement,” Greenbrier Computer Science Teacher Blake Driskill said. “Greenbrier will have two of the three schools representing Arkansas for this national competition. We know we have amazing students at Greenbrier. It has been a lot of fun watching these girls learn the tools involved with cyber security and collaborate to persevere through the challenges presented by this competition.”