Centerville Elementary Students Read Their Way to the Women's Final Four

March 25, 2022

Centerville Elementary Students Read Their Way to the Women’s Final Four

Ninety third-grade students at Centerville Elementary are heading to the NCAA Women’s Final Four—for reading. Students competed with other schools in the state, racking up reading minutes to pave the way to the Final Four Read-Off competition. Students will be honored at a celebratory event in Tourney Town on April 1.

Students are participating in Read to the Final Four, a nine-week literacy challenge aimed at creating a lifelong love and interest in reading for students across Minnesota. The competition is sponsored by the NCAA, Women’s Final Four and the Minnesota Local Organizing Committee.

During the competition, Centerville students have participated in special reading events involving flashlight reading, reading under their desks in forts, and in “reading cafés” in the classrooms. “It has been so encouraging to see our students ask to read whenever they have extra minutes, and when they’ve completed their books, they are off to the school library to check out more,” said Stacie Ebnet Dietz, third grade teacher who is leading the initiative at the school. “For the three, third grade teachers, we have all commented that seeing our students exceed their original reading stamina minutes and maintain focus on their books is absolutely incredible,” she added.

This is the second time the NCAA has hosted this event for third grade classes across Minnesota. “Centerville Elementary participated in 2018 during the Men’s NCAA Final Four, landing in the Round of 32, and that was remarkable,” said Dietz. “This year our students knew that we could surpass that previous record and we set our goal for making it to Tourney Town to be in the Final Four schools,” she added.

The next and final round of reading minutes are due Monday, March 28 to clinch the champion title. To date, Centerville Elementary students have read a total of 764,297 minutes, averaging 140 hours per student. “I am very proud of our third-grade students,” said Mike Macken, principal of Centerville Elementary. “Their dedication to reading and watching them progress through the brackets has been amazing,” he added.

The competition began on January 10 with 6,300 students in 102 schools participating. Centerville Elementary students progressed via the bracket-style competition: The “Top 68” schools were announced on January 27; Centerville advanced to Round of 32 on February 10, to the Sweet Sixteen on February 24, named to the Elite Eight on March 10, and reached the Final Four, announced on March 24.

The Centerville Elementary Cougars are up against Hill City Elementary, Hill City Public School District; Liberty Ridge Elementary, South Washington County Schools; and Cornelia Elementary, Edina Public Schools, vying for the championship title.