Developing the next generation of cybersecurity experts

Magnify your FUTURE

Cybersecurity & Computer Science

At St. Mary’s Academy, we are always seeking ways to ensure our students are prepared for future careers. As our world shifts to a focus on technology and online presence, the fields of cybersecurity and computer science have seen rapid growth. Therefore, we have integrated cybersecurity and computer science throughout our school’s curriculum. 

Building future careers

Cybersecurity has been present in the news in recent years as concerns of data breaches, identity theft, and espionage have come to the forefront. This has led to the perception that cybersecurity involves a shady individual hacking computer systems to do harm to people and companies. However, this field is actually a rapidly growing one which focuses on defending systems against attacks, training people on safe technology practices, and developing legislation to protect individuals and businesses from attacks. Our focus in this program is to prepare our students for careers as “white hat” (ethical) hackers who seek to prevent harm to people and systems. So why such a focus on cybersecurity?

Below are just a few cybersecurity career details:

  • 714,000 Open Cybersecurity Jobs
  • Backbone of technology infrastructure in the modern age
  • Median Pay is over $90,000
  • Present in nearly every industry
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While cybersecurity is seeing rapid growth across the country, Georgia is rapidly becoming a hub for cybersecurity operations:

  • More than 75 cybersecurity companies in the Metro Area
    • Apple, IBM Security, Microsoft, Cisco, Google, Visa, and many others
  • These companies produced 2.6 Billion in annual revenue 
  • Georgia is ranked amongst the Top 7 in the country in growth potential
  • The US Army Cyber Command was recently established in Augusta
  • Georgia IT Institute was established to develop cybersecurity skills in the Georgia workforce
  • The NSA recently completed is Cryptologic Center in Augusta
There are many tremendous opportunities for our students in this field, especially in Georgia!

Cybersecurity Curriculum

Our high school students utilize the computer science skills they have developed in our program to serve as a foundation for our curricular progression in Cybersecurity:

  •  9th grade: Computer Hardware and Software
  • 10th grade: Designing, building, and protecting networks
  • 11th grade: Cybersecurity Course
  • 12th grade: Comptia Security+ Certification program
Because cybersecurity requires knowledge of both hardware (the physical components of the computer) and software (the programs or code), we begin building their knowledge of both as they enter their freshman year. As they progress through the course content, they are learning the requisite knowledge to pass the Comptia Security+ exam. This certification is considered one of the premier certifications necessary for cybersecurity professionals. By obtaining this credential, students have the potential to get hired immediately out of school or qualify for substantial scholarships and admission to elite programs across the country. 

Competitions and challenges

We understand that classroom practice is only a part of the learning experience necessary to develop cybersecurity professionals. To this end, we provide additional opportunities for students to learn and challenge themselves:

  • Cyberstart America challenge: This gamified cybersecurity challenge allows students to compete locally and across the country for prizes, scholarships, and recognitions. 
  • RING Curriculum and Lab: As part of a grant awarded to the school, the RING program provides computers to students who are interested in cybersecurity and allow unlimited access to their online cyber range, where students can engage in challenges and real-world simulations
  • ACCESS Grant: We are one of six schools in the state which received the ACCESS grant which provides high quality curriculum and resources, networking opportunities with cybersecurity professionals, and summer cybersecurity bootcamps for interested students. 
  • AFA (Air Force Association) Cyberpatriot competition team: This competition team works together in a national challenge to protect and secure systems against other challengers. Winners get to compete in Washington, D.C., win cash prizes, and participate in networking opportunities with cybersecurity professionals from across the country.
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Computer Science

Creating future coders

We integrate computer science principles from our Pre-Kindergarten students all the way to our seniors. This develops the computational thinking skills necessary for careers in computer science and cybersecurity. Below are some examples of what our students learn throughout the curriculum progression:

  •  PK4-3rd Grade: Screen free coding with Botley and Sphero Indi which teaches sequencing and loops (repetition)
  • 4th-5th Grade: Game design and development with Microsoft Makecode Arcade
  • Middle School: Circuit design, drone flight, and block-based programming 
  • High School: Python, Java, Artificial Intelligence, and Robotics design and programming
For our high school students, we offer AP Computer Science A which focuses on the Java programming language and is the first course in a collegiate computer science degree. 
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AWARDS and Extracurriculurs

Our success in computer science education has been recognized by multiple organizations as described below:

  • CS100: This recognition is awarded to schools who are committed to teaching students a variety of programming languages, foundational principles in coding, and problem-solving methodologies  in grades Pre-Kindergarten through 5th.

  • AP Women in Computer Science: This award acknowledges 1,105 schools for their work toward equal gender representation in Computer Science through increased enrollment and success in AP Computer Science courses. St. Mary’s academy is one of only 209 schools to be recognized for achieving this important result in AP Computer Science A.

Our school also provides a robust robotics program that includes Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade. To learn more about this program, check out our STEM page.