Hampton students earn top scores in FBI cyber safety program
A group of middle school students from Hampton shined in a national endeavor, winning first place in the FBI's Safe Online Surfing program or SOS.
The SOS is an outreach program geared to teach youth about cyber safety through a series of games and activities
A group of 24 eighth-graders were among more than 105,000 students who took the online contest in April, beating all for a top score, according to Hartley Kennedy, the middle school computer science teacher.
He has been conducting the test for approximately 10 years for grades third through eighth. The test is designed for age appropriateness and covers topics such as cell phone safety, protecting personal information, instant messaging, social media, and online game safety, according to the FBI SOS website.
Kelly Wesolosky, an FBI Pittsburgh community outreach specialist, was at the June 4 school board meeting presenting the Hampton Middle School students and Kennedy with the award. She said a total of 1,755 schools in all 50 states, plus Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, competed in the SOS.
Kennedy said while the test is designed to be fun, it is intensive.
“It's definitely very competitive. It's hard to win,” he said. “This is just a really important topic and definitely needs to be covered. This is another way of reinforcing it.”
Wesolosky stresses that it's important that schools participate.
“Without the school districts, we wouldn't be able to have a venue to teach kids on how to be safe on the Internet. We really believe strongly in this program,” she said.
Natalie Beneviat is a Tribune-Review contributor.