March Madness spawns college interest for students


Photo Kristina Chowning

Sarah Sanford’s door stands open with its Texas Tech decor.

Amelia Foster, Staff Writer

March Madness is here and Robinson is celebrating in stride. Walking around campus, one might have noticed the doors in the science hallway decorated with different university colors. The decorations were organized by AVID teacher Kristina Chowning as a way to not only celebrate March Madness, but to create an interest in students for different colleges.

“Students often limit themselves to what they know and this exposes them to schools around the country,” Chowning said. “This is a bigger project than just the doors, the primary project is to have students learn about their options.”

For Chowning’s AVID students, the doors go much farther than just decorations. Each student is given a fake acceptance letter to one of the 16 schools and must research their given university, including the minimum GPA requirement, acceptance rate, and what programs the school offers. The students then help decorate the doors and track their school as it progresses through the tournament.

“I thought it was a really good learning experience because if I didn’t do this, I probably wouldn’t have thought about any of these schools,” said Jordana Smith (’21), one of Chowning’s students. “This gave me a perspective of other places and what it’s like to be in college.”

This idea originated during March Madness six years ago, when Chowning started to research the colleges to see where they were on the bracket. She realized that in the process of learning more about the tournament, she was learning more about the colleges themselves. This spawned into the doors that students see around school now.

March Madness is the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament. The top 16 schools are selected and are set to compete against each other, where the winners of each game will then advance along a bracket. The final four teams set to compete against each other on March 31 are Loyola and Michigan, Kansas and Villanova. The two winning teams will then advance to the championship on April 2.

“A lot of kids have asked me what school is on my door and if they won which isn’t something they’d necessarily be asking without the decorations. Somebody might have seen my door and looked it up and decided it was for them,” said Sarah Sanford, who decorated her door with colors from Texas Tech.

March Madness will end on April 2, with the last two schools competing for the championship. The decorations will be taken down, the AVID student’s University project will be done, and Chowning will continue to plan for next year’s March Madness.

“I hope that this year is the first of many where we celebrate college-going culture and expose our students to more schools,” Chowning said.