More March sadness: Eighth-graders’ giant NCAA tournament bracket left blank

Liam Gluck, left, and Lance Caswell, right, pose with the NCAA tournament bracket they helped create at Jacob Coy Middle School. Submitted photo
Liam Gluck, left, and Lance Caswell, right, pose with the NCAA tournament bracket they helped create at Jacob Coy Middle School. Submitted photo

Bracket-building project a learning experience for students

Jason Streiff shared a photo on Twitter on Friday of a giant, blank NCAA tournament bracket on a wall at Jacob Coy Middle School in Greene County. It was about 8 feet tall and 18 feet wide and took up almost every inch of space between two classroom doors.

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Eighth-grade students Liam Gluck and Lance Caswell stood in front of their creation in the photo. They also had help from classmate Haley Ferguson. The three had grand designs on their big project. The ultimate goal was to fill out the bracket as the tournament progressed and write “Dayton Flyers” in the middle when they won the championship.

Everyone knows what happened next. The cancellation of the NCAA tournament — and every other major sporting event in the country — killed many big dreams and plenty of small ones, too, this among them.

“This adds to coach (Anthony) Grant’s statement of ‘bigger than basketball,’” said Streiff, who teaches Design Thinking for Beavercreek City Schools. “Sure, it’s disappointing that the bracket was not able to be completed, that the Flyers were not able to complete the dance. But there is a positive lesson that the students can take away from this experience, a lesson that despite how big the world may seem, we are all interconnected to each other, and our actions, no matter how big or small, can make a difference.”

In Streiff’s class, students investigate the world of product and service design. They recently finished a three-week project on world food situations, focusing on “food deserts, retail selection on food and food consumption.”

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The class had a small window, Streiff said, between March 4 and March 16 to work on a new project. He challenged them to build projects that would decorate doors in the middle school.

“The purpose of the project is to provide students a sense of community and ownership within the building,” Streiff said. “It also helps provide some positivity for all students as they walk past the decorated doors throughout the building. I initially hadn’t thought about using my door, but then after thinking about it, I thought that I would also participate as well and initially thought of just having a Flyer-themed door.”

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Streiff has been a Dayton basketball fan as long as he can remember and earned his master’s degree from UD. He knew the three students were big fans.

“Our family follows all UD sports,” Haley’s mom Andrea Ferguson wrote in an email. “Her grandpa is a UD alumni and a basketball season-ticket holder. Haley has personally been rooting for UD since she watched them play softball when she was in elementary school.”

“Lance is a huge UD fan,” Lance’s mom Tisha Caswell wrote. “He has been attending their basketball camps in the summer for the last five years. He aspires to be on the Flyers team one day. He loves attending the games when we are able to get tickets. They are hard to come by!”

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“Liam really enjoyed making the bracket,” Liam’s mom Julie Gluck wrote. “He was quite proud of it. His regular response to ‘What did you do at school today?’ is typically ‘Nothing new.’ But I heard about this bracket every day!”

The students drew the bracket with a black sharpie marker and a meter stick and printed logos on the bracket to make it look official. They needed four periods, or 160 minutes, to finish the job.

“When the bracket was finished, I would hear students pass by exclaiming, ‘Wow!’” Streiff said, “and others began talking about who would ultimately be in the overall winners box.”

They’ll never know. The great “What if” will haunt Dayton fans for a long time.

“On a scale of one to ten, Haley says her disappointment is at an 11,” Andrea Ferguson said. “She was excited to see UD go all the way and is really bummed her eighth grade year is being cut short.”

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