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PRESS RELEASE

August 18, 2005

Russell Schweiss or Cristal Cole
(850) 488-5394

Governor Bush and First Lady Columba Bush Invite Florida Students to Participate in Third Annual Hispanic Heritage Month Essay Contest
Winning students receive full scholarships

TALLAHASSEE — Governor Jeb Bush and First Lady Columba Bush today invited Florida's K-12 students to participate in the third annual Florida Hispanic Heritage Month essay contest. The essay contest is the first in a month-long schedule of events planned to commemorate Florida's Hispanic heritage. The theme of the essay contest is, "How has Florida's Diverse Hispanic Heritage and Culture Inspired You?"

"Columba and I are proud of the Spanish and Latin-American influences which are a rich part of Florida's culture and play a dynamic role in shaping our state," said Governor Bush. "Hispanic Heritage month gives us the opportunity to educate Florida's students about the contributions Hispanic individuals have made to the diversity of our state's history."

Governor Bush is asking students to pay special tribute to the Florida's diverse Hispanic population and their contributions to the state's culture, economy and education. The theme for Florida's 2005 Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration is "Florida, Gateway of the Americas: Celebrating Our Diverse Hispanic Heritage."

The contest is open to all Florida K-12 students. A panel of educators, community and business leaders from around the state will serve as judges and select the winning essays. One winner will be selected from each of the three grade-level categories, elementary (grades K-5), middle (grades 6-8) and high school (grades 9-12). Winners will receive a full four-year tuition scholarship to a Florida college or university of their choice, provided by annual essay contest partner Florida Prepaid College Foundation.

"From Florida's earliest days, people of Hispanic heritage and culture have played a vital role in shaping this diverse and wonderful state we live in. The Florida Prepaid College Foundation is again proud to participate in this month's celebration as a sponsor of the Hispanic Heritage Month essay contest," said Stanley G. Tate, Chairman of the Florida Prepaid College Foundation.

Essay Guidelines are as follows:

  • Entries must be e-mailed to essay@myflorida.com or mailed to the Executive Office of the Governor: 400 S. Monroe Street, Suite 206, Tallahassee, Florida 32399.
  • Entries must be received no later than 5:00 p.m. (EST), September 16, 2005.
  • Each student may enter only one essay, no longer than 500 words.
  • Essays submitted must include: contestant's name, home address, telephone number, school the student attends, grade level and title of the essay.
  • Essay must be accompanied by a parental consent form in order to be considered.

Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated nationwide and begins on September 15, the anniversary of independence for five Latin American countries-Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Mexico achieved independence on September 16 and Chile on September 18. Hispanic Heritage Month has been celebrated in the United States since 1974, when President Gerald Ford issued a Presidential Proclamation extending Hispanic Heritage Week into a month-long observation.

"The Florida Hispanic Legislative Caucus is proud to serve as a partner for this year's Hispanic Heritage Month essay contest. It is important for Florida's children to be educated about the history and contributions of all the nationalities represented across this great state. As we prepare to celebrate the diversity of our state's Hispanic culture, it is my hope that this essay contest will encourage our youngest citizens to seek a greater knowledge of the many contributions Hispanic Americans have made in shaping our state's and nation's history," said State Representative Bob Henriquez , Vice Chair of the Florida Hispanic Caucus.

Partners of this year's Hispanic Heritage Month essay contest include the Florida Prepaid College Foundation and the Florida Hispanic Legislative Caucus. Those interested in participating in the essay contest and obtaining more information on other Hispanic Heritage Month events should visit www.floridahispanicheritage.com or call (850) 488-5394 for more information.