They learn everything there is to know about technology, from networking concepts and databases to coding and the value of cybersecurity, and this is one of those classes that has a strong hold on the interest of seventh and eighth graders who participate.
“It’s really fun,” said seventh-grader Dimitri Makris. “I’ve always loved video games and computers, and thought this course would be a lot of fun. I learned a lot.
Kimberly Purvis leads the class, which is now in its third year of offering students. She worked in the business world at one time and tries to bring as much real-life experience as possible into the classroom to aid the learning process in the growing field of computing and of cybersecurity.
“I bring as many concrete examples as possible. It’s important for them to see the value of what they’re learning and how they can use it in their careers and in their lives. These are important skills.”
As Avalon Middle School Principal Joe Trujillo explains, students not only learn about computers, but they gain skills that can prepare them for a job right out of high school.
“I was talking with a couple of parents who work at Navy Federal and they said those skills are exactly what they’re looking for on the job,” Trujillo said. “These skills they learn are directly related to our community.”
Students can earn several certifications during their middle and high school education related to information technology and cybersecurity.
And that’s one of the things Purvis loves most about teaching this class.
“It’s good to teach them real-life skills that I know from personal experience that they’ll be able to use,” Purvis said. “They have the potential to leave high school with four or five certifications. It is a very good program.
Eighth grader Brody Crider is grateful to be a part of it.
“It’s a skill to brag about and use in life. There are a lot of things you can do with what you learn in this course,” Crider said.
The hacking part of the class was one of the most interesting things for eighth grader Oliver Keene. He learned what can be done to prevent cyberattacks.
“We’ve seen how someone can find a vulnerability in your system with a few commands and find a backdoor where there really is no protection,” Keene said.
Purvis said she strives to keep students as engaged as possible, especially in labs where students have even taken apart computers to find out more about themselves.
“I love labs for sure,” Makris said. “Having your hands on it is the most fun.”
Interestingly enough, Crider and Keene said the most fun part of class is something you wouldn’t expect.
“The tests,” Crider said. “I know it sounds weird, but you can test your knowledge on what you’ve learned.”
Keene echoed that response.
“That’s a weird answer, but I like reviews so you can see where you’re at and prove you’re ready for this kind of thing,” Keene said.
Even if students do not go into computing for a living, the skills will still benefit them.
“No matter what you do, you need computers. This generation doesn’t have the option of not knowing how to use one,” Purvis said.
All three students interviewed said they were interested in potentially going into the field one day. For Keene, it would be an opportunity to help prevent a cyberattack that could prove catastrophic.
“It makes you feel important to be the first line of defense against this,” Keene said.