The Aurora Mental Health Center this year celebrated its 40th Anniversary along with its 9th Annual Student Art Contest at the Radisson Hotel in Aurora.

A record 450 artworks from 23 Aurora-area schools displayed the power of creativity from K-12 students, recognized for their imaginative contributions. In total 14 award ribbons went to students followed by recognition of teachers, staff and board members.

“It’s phenomenal!” said AUMHC board President Peter Cukale, “Every year this event gets bigger and bigger.”

AUMHC was founded by a group of concerned Aurora residents lead by Ellin Mrachek who were determined to bring mental health services to the city in the mid-1970s.

The 9th Annual AUMHC “Living Life to the Fullest” student art show and contest featured works based on this year’s theme of “What Fills Your Heart with Joy?”

The annual event, sponsored by Citywide Banks, selected first and second place winners in each of the 4 grade categories from Kindergarten to 12th grade, as well as four Director’s Choice Award recipients, a holiday card selection, and teacher recognition for four instructors. Winners received a certificate and were recognized on stage before a crowd of more than 200 guests, friends and family members and several Aurora and Arapahoe county representatives.

First Place Winners were:
K-3: Dakota Fink
4-6 Annie Nuetzel
7-8 Emily Merrell
9-12 Janet Najar

2nd Place Winners:
K-3: Mackenzie Price
4-6 Munirah Kramer
7-8 Lexi Lowe
9-12 Renee Pugh

Honorable Mention Winner: Justin Roach
Holiday Card Selection: Mariana Carvallo
Teacher Recognition: John Breeding, Brooks Mullen, Genevieve Deits, Sarah Grundemann

Director’s Choice Award Winners:
Taylor Davidson, 2nd grade, High Plains Elementary
Caitlyn Bradley, 4th grade, Altura Elementary
Grace Ko, 8th grade, Fox Ridge Middle School
Taryn Montgomery, 11th grade, William Smith High School

Near the close of the event, Dr. Stith handed a letter from Colorado Senator Michael Bennet to Board President Cukale who read it to the crowd. Bennet’s letter praised the organization’s commitment to expanding mental health services and recognized its four decades of award-winning service. Staff and board recognition and awards were followed by board elections.

Founded in 1975, Aurora Mental Health Center provides community mental health services through 16 clinics, residential facilities, schools, and county human services. AUMHC has more than 400 employees and about 100 volunteers–recognized as among the best by the Colorado Division of Mental Health.

For more information or to donate please visit or call 303-617-2300