Cyber Defense Chief Calls Cyber Program “Unprecedented”

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Christ Chapel Academy (CCA) launched the first formal High School Cyber Security Program in the commonwealth of Virginia and one of the first programs in the country. The program just completed its fifth year and students are preparing to take their certification exams. In past years, CCA, located in Woodbridge, has had multiple students score in the top 20 percent on a state-recognized certification exam. The Cyber Security Program is designed to equip high school students with the fundamental skills and certifications required for entry-level employment through compliance with Department of Defense directive 8570.1.

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When graduating senior Casey Pettiford heard about a high-profile cyberattack that left Sony’s PlayStation Network compromised last year, she recognized the type of attack. Pettiford was familiar with denial-of-service attacks and was able to understand what happened because of the training she received.

“When I listen to the news and hear about cyber-attacks, it’s cool to know that I have the knowledge to possibly prevent one,” Pettiford said. “I know what a denial-of-service attack is, and I know the solutions, so it was cool to imagine if I would have been able to solve the problem.”

The school’s Cyber Security program was developed by its IT Director Mike Miklich in compliance with Virginia Department of Education’s Course Standards. Chief of Cyber Defense for the Defense Intelligence Agency Kara Byrd called the Cyber Security Program offered at Christ Chapel Academy “unprecedented” when she made a visit to the school during Cyber Security Awareness Month last year.

“I am just blown away by [the program]. I am so impressed by it… This is unprecedented as far as I am aware,” Byrd said. “Kids are not coming out of college with the certifications that are being offered to this student body, so this is huge.”

Byrd expressed that within the cyber field, supply of the workforce is constantly outpaced by the demand. And being able to tap into high school students and their expertise coming right out of school before they complete college is an exciting concept. “I’ve been in the business for a long time. And this is so innovative, and so simple, and so smart… [CCA] is blessed,” Byrd said.

Christ Chapel Academy is dedicated to unleashing the leadership potential within each student. Academically rigorous programs, a vibrant Christ-centered community and a unique multicultural learning environment make CCA a great option for parents who want a smaller school but don’t want to sacrifice big opportunities for their student(s).

To learn more about Christ Chapel Academy, visit


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