Katie Mahle, Lead Writer

Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, Crown Point High

Graphic design teacher Karen Top instructs her class.

School students arrived at school like any other day. As each student logged on to their computer, they were denied entry into Buzz. Students went with the flow and celebrated freedom from the screen while teachers, on the other hand, simply suspected another interruption from construction. As everyone waited for the next set of instructions, questions swirled.

Crown Point High School had been hacked. Surprisingly, it was not how many envisioned a hacking.
In the Indiana school district alone, there have been 46 reported cyberattacks and attempts since July, 2021, according to the research done by the WRTV investigates. The Crown Point School District had been hacked during November 2022 and although it happened a short time ago, students and families are now recovering from the aftermath of the alarming invasion of privacy.

Steps to protect and restore the school systems were the first and foremost measures for Crown Point School District.
“After the cyber event, our team inspected every PC/Windows device and rebuilt portions of our technology systems,“ Superintendent Todd Terrill said. “We enlisted the help of a third party vendor due to the size and scope of this work.”
As the days continued, notifications were sent out so both teachers and students could rewire their classroom activities. From struggle to success and back, different classrooms have unique stories to tell.
“It was harder because my other classes weren’t affected too much, but in my graphic design class we couldn’t really use Adobe at all. That’s what most of our work is on,” freshman Brooklyn Blomquist said.
Challenges seemed to be determined by the subject or discipline of the class. For example, newspaper, yearbook, graphic design, radio & broadcasting, robotics and even engineering classes all use various software programs like Adobe which extend beyond the learning management system.
“In the past, students practiced the content using their InDesign skills. Immediately, new content and activities had to be created utilizing Buzz and Google Apps only. I am not an expert at either of these methods. It was quite challenging and time consuming,” Graphic Design teacher Karen Topp said.
Many students in media classes waited months to get their school projects back. This left them ultimately having to redo the majority of their work.
“It was really hard in the yearbook because we had to completely change what software we were working on so we could get it (the yearbook) out on time,” sophomore Izzy Egner said.
Many teachers were not only flipping their activities, but they were also apprehensive and cautious on what to do in this situation as they moved forward.
“It’s like a fire drill. You’ll say, ‘Gosh I hope we never have a fire here,’ but if we do we have to be prepared for it,” Principal Russ Marcinek said.
Even though caution was at its highest and safety the utmost concern, some classes felt weakened seeing as they couldn’t carry on as before.
“The loss of access to the software I teach to my students was crippling. This critical component of the curriculum abruptly stopped the learning. I was most fearful about everyone’s personal information being in the hands of the criminals,” Topp said.
As for communication, teachers in the Crown Point School District have always been informed and are often reminded how to handle a questionable email from an external website.
“We do talk to our staff a lot about not opening suspicious emails. Understanding that there are hackers out there that are wanting to do harm, so be very careful about what you open,” Marcinek said. “If you have any questions about an email you get, always ask before you open it. Our staff is good about it, but it’s easy to slip up.”
According to Marcinek, the superintendent is also incorporating technological safeguards, making it harder to get into the different files that our school has. The schools are not the only ones who are adding new 2-step verification programs into their everyday lives, but the teachers are as well.
Even with the added security, hackers seem to know how to get around such preventative measures. They’re strategic and mindful as they know how to find a loophole.

Stacks of Chromebooks in need of repair.

“We lost access to a lot of our files, so many of the things we created had to be recreated from scratch, and so that took more time. Plus we lost our computers [for a bit], because the IT department went in and wiped them to make sure there were no bugs,” Geometry, DC pre-calculus and trigonometry teacher Keith Iddings said.
Irish novelist Samuel Lover once said, “It is better to be safe than sorry,” which is why everyone in the district went the extra mile to safeguard their files and personal information. Emails were on hold until the situation cleared.
“Through this, stepping away from technology for a little bit has actually been kind of nice in my opinion,” English teacher Haley Crane said. “It was nice for a little while. I didn’t mind that part of it.”
Although some felt as if their days were turned upside down, others felt as if not much changed at all.
Students like Lia Lagos, who is in classes that go without the use of various software programs everyday, forgot that it even happened all together.
“It was pretty much the same. I don’t think it was necessarily hard or easy,” said Lagos.
Although Buzz was hacked early on, the majority of the teachers used either back up paper assignments or came together as a group for character building activities, allowing students to not get too far behind or to become stagnant.
Knowing quickly that the learning management system was still intact was a true sense of relief for many teachers and students. “The fact that Buzz was up and running, and students were still able to do their work and follow their agendas, I think that made a difference,” Marcinek said.
As we enter the final stretch of the 2023 school year, most of the Crown Point School District has been restored, and everyone is finally gaining back bits and pieces of items that were once lost. Although it isn’t everything, it certainly is a refreshing reset and a stark reminder that repairing what once was broken takes a patient and dedicated team.


Follow us

Check out more from Inklings