Skip to main content
CNN Europe CNN Asia
On CNN TV Transcripts Headline News CNN International About Preferences
powered by Yahoo!

Student gets 'A' for hacking school computer

By Jeordan Legon

Reid Ellison, 15, works on a computer at school.
Reid Ellison, 15, works on a computer at school.

   Story Tools

(CNN) -- It was a breeze for 15-year-old Reid Ellison to hack into his high school's computer grading system. But what to do once he broke in took a bit more ingenuity.

You see, Reid already has a perfect 4.0 grade point average at Anzar High School in San Juan Bautista, California. So to leave his mark, he decided to lower his grades to a 1.9 GPA -- a meager D+.

"I couldn't do what most people would want to do when they hack into the school's computer," Reid said. "So I thought it would be funny to do the opposite."

The hacking project, which was sanctioned by the school, left administrators so impressed they gave him a perfect score. The school is now working on fixing the security holes.

"I'm helping them with it," said Reid, who's been tinkering with computers since he was in second grade and wants to be an engineer. "I basically came up with three pages to improve the security of the network in general."

Getting the password

Reid Ellison made sure it was easy to change his grades back to A's.
Reid made sure it was easy to change his grades back to A's.

Reid's project was part of Anzar's "exhibition" requirement. To graduate, each student must complete six exhibitions -- written and oral presentations in history, science, math and language arts.

It took three hacking programs less than a second -- 200 milliseconds to be exact -- to find the password to the school's computer, Reid said. It was the school secretary's name: Silvia.

The school has since changed the password and Reid doesn't know it, but that doesn't stop the jokes from students asking their classmate for hacking help.

"If he didn't have such high moral fiber, he could probably make a lot of money off his abilities," said Wayne Norton, Reid's adviser.

Getting perfect grades back

Reid, who skipped part of the eighth grade, said he's setting his sights on college, not hacking. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology or the California Institute of Technology to be exact.

After his hacking session was documented, Reid kept a close eye on the return of his hard-earned A's.

"I made sure it was really easy for them to change it back," he said.

Story Tools

Top Stories
Burgers, lattes and CD burners
Top Stories
CNN/Money: Security alert issued for 40 million credit cards
© 2004 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser. does not endorse external sites.