Class Closeup: Inside Cybersecurity


Meet Cybersecurity teachers Mr. Longchamp and Mr. Onda, and take a look inside Cybersecurity class – where students explore the minds of internet hackers and learn about the digital world.

    In the digital age, technology has seeped into every corner of our lives. We have the entire world at our fingertips, contained within our smartphones. We rely on the internet to connect us, to learn, communicate, entertain, and express ourselves; most of our days are spent in cyberspace. The internet, digital technology, is so powerful, and yet, leaves us each so vulnerable.

    From hackers to scammers, when your entire life can be accessed by a few mere clicks, protecting yourself is of utmost priority. In Potomac Falls’ Cybersecurity class, students are learning to do just that. Cybersecurity teacher Mr. Longchamp described the subject as “ a very large and very interesting look at computers, technology, how we use technology, especially because technology continues to evolve,” he added, “We don’t think about all the different ways technology affects us, as well as the ways in which we use technology, so Cybersecurity is an opportunity to see the different ways that technology affects us on a day-to-day basis.”

    Sophomore Jane Ryder said Cybersecurity is important not only in protecting ourselves and our information, but in understanding the digital technology we use every day. “Everyone is on social media, and a lot of technology is in our daily lives. It’s important to know how to be safe with all of that,”said Ryder. Ryder, who is a student in Longchamp’s Cybersecurity II class, added that, though the class is different nearly everyday, they typically work in virtual labs, saying “we usually start off with a lesson. Right now, we’re doing server vulnerabilities. Then, we move on to an activity; it’s usually in PLTW which is a virtual environment that we use.”

    Longchamp said that “students often work independently, and the class practices both hands-on and theoretical work. There are classes where we are learning a concept and using it in a lab; it can be very hands-on, as well as theoretical. Sometimes we’re discussing the theory of Cybersecurity, how it is intended to work, how it should work, and sometimes how things have not gone the way it was planned.” Longchamp added, “we also look at real-world things. We’ll discuss a real case, or a concept, and connect it to real life, and discuss how it is relevant to us.”

    Longchamp has been a teacher at Potomac Falls since 2016, and teaches Sports & Entertainment Marketing as well as Introduction to Business & Marketing in addition to Cybersecurity. When asked what led him to teach his class, Longchamp responded with, “I just think that it’s a great and relevant topic, and one that people should be aware of. Many times we use technology without really understanding it, and we are not necessarily intending to make someone an expert, but have them at least have a working knowledge and understanding of technology, as well as helping to create a mentality of problem solving and critical thinking.”

    Intro to Cybersecurity teacher Mr. Onda has been teaching his class for four years, half of them being at Potomac Falls, and he picked up the subject following his service as a marine. “ I really do enjoy it. It deals with a lot of stuff I used to work with in the marine core because I was in communications which also involved data systems…” he said, “it’s pretty neat,”said Onda.

    Longchamp said he enjoys watching his students learn and grow through the class, “I think it’s interesting that we’re introducing people to something that is kind of high-level. It’s engaging, it’s challenging which I like, and I think it really helps people grow and learn about something they maybe didn’t realize before,” said Longchamp.  Longchamp later described Cybersecurity as a distinct and unique class, “ As a class, Cyber is intended to introduce students to the different elements of technology, the inner workings, particularly computers and networks and the systems that come together to create the internet.”

    Students of varying skill sets and interests can be found in the school’s Cyber class. Students like Senior Kareem Natour plan to pursue Cybersecurity professionally. “I’m trying to do something related to Cybersecurity and computer science in the future, so I thought it was a good opportunity to learn more about it.”

    Sophomore Peter Dyson also hopes for a career in Cybersecurity, similar to that of his Father. “My dad works in Cybersecurity…I think I’d like to have a career in Cybersecurity. I mean…it does pay well,” Dyson said, jokingly. .

    However, some students such as junior Samantha Wooddell are utilizing the class, and the unique skills they are learning through Cybersecurity as a stepping stone to assist them in their preferred paths. Wooddell, an aspiring CIA agent, enjoys exploring the mind of a hacker, and hopes that the knowledge she has gained in Cybersecurity will aid her in studying forensic science. “I’m trying to go into the CIA, so I wanted to dive into the hacking-type stuff, and see if I could find things that could help with forensics, or finding real world problems and criminals,” said Wooddell

    Ryder plans to use her knowledge of computers and  Cybersecurity to enter a career in STEM. “I don’t think I’m going directly into Cybersecurity, but maybe something more in the engineering or STEM fields,” said Ryder.

     Why take this class? Onda explained why the growing interest in Cybersecurity is critical“It can definitely get you a start onto a great career path. Probably the most in-demand jobs in our country today are in Cybersecurity. There are more open Cybersecurity positions in the United States than there are people in college,” said Onda. He added, “there are needs everywhere. Everything is going digital, everything is going online, so that’s where the real forefront is for how we do business, and we need to be able to protect that. Every organization needs CyberSecurity.”

    Wooddell said that, while the class is different and many may find it intimidating, she encourages people to try something new, saying “Step out of your comfort zone. I’ve found it really enjoying.” 

    Dyson asserted that the class is a balance of fun and knowledge that is valuable to every individual living in the current digital age. “I feel like it actually does offer real life skills since most of life is on the internet now, it’s good to know about.” He later noted, “it’s fun too.”

Cybersecurity is a class unlike any other at Potomac Falls; It challenges student’s critical thinking skills, and helps them to learn about the world around them. For students that may be interested in enrolling in Cybersecurity next school year, you can do so by scheduling an appointment with your guidance counselor.