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NCAA Middle School Madness program unveils winners

DENVER--- Aurora Hills Middle School, Erie Middle School and four middle school students are the winners in this year’s NCAA Middle School Madness program, as part of the 2012 NCAA Women’s Final Four.

“Having the Middle School Madness program continue to serve as an educational tool encouraging girls and boys to learn from the exemplary student-athletes competing at the Women’s Final Four is something we take great pride in,” said Michelle Perry, NCAA director of the Division I Women’s Basketball Championship.

The Middle School Madness program, created by the NCAA in 1999, is a link between classroom learning and the NCAA that enhances student awareness of the opportunities available through athletics, provides inspiration through student-athlete role models and allows middle school students to participate in the local excitement surrounding the Women’s Final Four. It incorporates a curriculum for teachers, along with an individual essay contest for students and a school-wide mural contest to develop the skills and the confidence to be future leaders.

The curriculum ties academic disciplines in the primary school subjects (health, language arts, math, science, social studies and visual arts) into the sport of basketball. The contests, developed for students in grades 6-8, center on the “What is the Power of Youth – of making a difference in your community?”

The four winners of the essay contest are seventh-grader Syra Taub, Rocky Heights Middle School and eighth-graders Brandon Cummings, Erie Middle School; Makenna Dahmer, Thunder Ridge Middle School; and Vann Fallows, Cimarron Middle School.  The mural contest school winners are the Aurora Hills Middle School eighth-grade art class (teacher Maura Lentz) and the Erie Middle School eighth-grade class (teacher Murray Wallace).

Each essay winner receives a laptop computer provided by the NCAA. Aurora Hills Middle School and Erie Middle School will each receive two computers and every student at both schools will receive an NCAA cinch bag. The murals and essays will be displayed at Tourney Town Refreshed by Coca-Cola Zero during Women’s Final Four weekend, March 30-April 3.

“All of the participating Denver middle schools and the Denver Local Organizing Committee have worked hard to pair our championship basketball with educational resources and fitness, contributing to local middle school students’ work towards achieving their goals and dreams,” said Perry. “We believe this is one of many ways for the NCAA and the Women’s Final Four to leave a lasting legacy in Denver.”

A total of 13 Denver middle schools participated in the program with each receiving a cash honorarium for art supplies, Wilson basketballs and a basketball rack.

Participating Denver middle schools included Atlas Preparatory School, Aurora Hills Middle School, Aurora Quest K-8, Aurora West College Preparatory Academy, Casey Middle School, Cimarron Middle School, Erie Middle School, Evangelical Christian Academy, Farrell B. Howell Middle School, Girls Athletic Leadership School of Denver, KIPP Sunshine Peak, Rocky Heights Middle School and Thunder Ridge Middle School.


About the NCAA and Division I Women’s Basketball

The NCAA is a membership-led nonprofit association of colleges and universities committed to supporting academic and athletic opportunities for more than 400,000 student-athletes at more than 1,000 member colleges and universities.  Each year, more than 54,000 student-athletes compete in NCAA championships in Divisions I, II and III sports. Visit and for more details about the Association, its goals and members and corporate partnerships that help support programs for student-athletes. The NCAA is proud to have the following elite companies as official Corporate Champions – AT&T, Capital One and Coca-Cola – and the following elite companies as official Corporate Partners – Buick, Enterprise, Infiniti, LG, Lowe’s, Northwestern Mutual, Reese’s (Hershey’s), Unilever, UPS and Wheat Thins (Kraft).

NCAA women’s basketball is characterized by strong fundamentals, high quality of play, sportsmanship, role model student-athletes and family oriented entertainment. The latest NCAA Graduation Success Rate figures show 84 percent of NCAA Division I women’s basketball players graduate. In terms of the NCAA Academic Progress Rate, which measures term-by-term academic success, the overall score is 968, well above the NCAA benchmark of 930.

For the latest news in regard to the Women’s Final Four, visit