Dear Hacker, Get out of Our Space

Dear++Hacker%2C+Get+out+of+Our+Space

An Op-Ed to the BCPS Ransomware Attackers from Kenwood’s Journalism Class

Our normal has been taken stripped away from us for almost nine months now, but then last week’s cyber attack on our school system stripped away our sense of  our security. When the Ransomware Cyber Attackers locked BCPS’ 115,000 students and staff out of their access to class and crippled our technical infrastructure, it felt like the last straw in an already tough year.

It wasn’t just our access to education that was threatened. After nine months in isolation, it was our last line of connection to our school community. Last week’s cyber attack threatened to isolate us from our school community and family. Our schools give us a place to belong; they help us build our identity.

For many of us that connection to school is about so much more than just learning to read and write and do arithmetic. Through these past few months we’ve made real connections with our peers and teachers online. They have helped us feel like, despite the distance, we belong and are a valuable part of the community our teachers created in this digital space.

In this space, we’ve felt safe to share in our struggles of this time and try to help each other during this pandemic. Connecting with our peers and teachers during this pandemic has been a lifeline in 2020, and when you, the cyber attackers,  threatened to cut the rope, we once again felt that loss of connection to our school community.

We felt robbed of our learning goals, stressing all week about whether we had lost all our schoolwork. We worried we lost those last connections we had to the outside world from the confinements of our isolated homes. Everyone is struggling right now, and sharing it with each other makes us look on the bright side of things instead of viewing the world as a curse due to the pandemic.

You might think you were just stealing money, but you were robbing us- the students- of so much more. You threatened our connection to our community. You took away the motivation and drive we were all so desperately clinging to during these trying times.

Too many of us suffer from depression and anxiety. And when you take away that last connection to the outside world right now, there is nothing to keep our minds busy and our worries at bay. We sit and think about everything, often finding ourselves alone and crying. A mind is a dangerous place, even more so when there is no school or purpose to direct your energy to. Right now, school is what gives some of us the motivation to get out of bed. That chance to connect with someone throughout our day has become something many of us look forward to.

We are already struggling with isolation without in-person school and sports, but somehow we’ve made connection through this online class format. Virtual school has been many people’s way of connecting with people in order to overcome the isolation of the pandemic. Though it may not be ideal, it’s getting us through, and when that connection was threatened, it kind of hurts. It hurt more than we realized it would.

The digital platform our schools and teachers have invested so much time and energy into these past few months have given us a sense of community and belonging. We feel connected to others despite the isolation. Just like we took in-person school for granted before March 13th, we now know how valuable this digital space our teachers have created for us is. The threatened loss of that this past week caused us anxiety and sadness.

This new way of learning has been a challenge for everyone. We’ve stressed ourselves out trying to adapt to this new way of school, and now we feel challenged and like we have to adapt yet again. I guess if  we’ve learned anything, it’s that we’re resilient and once again we’ve found a new appreciation for school. We don’t understand why or really how this happened. But, now even the thought of not being in school after thinking we didn’t like it for many years, fills us with sadness. We’ve actually discovered we enjoy it and shouldn’t take it for granted. School gives us a sense of belonging and community.

This space is ours and you’re not welcome here, Hacker. We built and found something that we realize is quite valuable to us.

Sincerely,

KHS Journalism Class