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D214 leads way in prepping students for increasingly vital cybersecurity careers

One week it’s an energy pipeline, the next it's a large meat packing operation. No one knows where the next cybersecurity attack will occur - only that it will be costly, disruptive and potentially dangerous.

More than ever before, the U.S. needs highly trained cybersecurity professionals, and District 214 is among the leaders in preparing students for these careers - through coursework, apprenticeships and competition. Rolling Meadows High School this year placed a cybersecurity team among the nation's top 12 and now recent Rolling Meadows graduate Minh Duong is among only 30 seniors in the country to earn the status of a National Cyber Scholar with Honors. This makes Minh eligible for a $3,000 scholarship to his chosen college. This prestigious honor is granted to only the 30 highest scoring Scholars in the country. 

Minh also was among six Rolling Meadows students composing a team that this spring not only won state competition in Illinois but also earned a spot among 12 national finalist teams in CyberPatriot cybersecurity competition. Rolling Meadows teams swept the top three spots in Illinois competition.

Michael Drenth, a Rolling Meadows Business and IT teacher who also coached the schools’ cybersecurity teams, explains the benefit for students of District 214’s  emphasis on cybersecurity training, including paid apprenticeships. “All of this is in its infancy stage, but in five to 10 years everything is going to be attached to the internet,” Drenth says. “Because the field is new, maybe 70 to 80 percent of people working in it have no formal education in cybersecurity. The big thing for us is looking to give skills in competition that, along with formal education, will put them ahead of the game once they’re in the job market.”