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PRESS RELEASE

October 3, 2005

Jennifer Fennell
(850) 245-0413

Governor Bush and First Lady Bush Launch Statewide Reading in the Arts Contest
"Florida's Journey into the Land of Narnia" contest highlights the release of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" as a major motion picture

TALLAHASSEE — Governor Jeb Bush and First Lady Columba Bush today launched a statewide reading in the arts contest for students in grades 3-12 focused on the book The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. The contest, sponsored by the Just Read, Florida! initiative, will coincide with the nationwide release of the Walt Disney Pictures and Walden Media film adaptation of the renowned story on December 9, 2005.

"The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a story many of us read in school. Now, as the magic of Narnia takes to the big screen, we have the opportunity to share the same adventure with our children and students," said Governor Bush. "This reading contest will bring the story of the Wardrobe to life, encouraging creativity and allowing students to share their own vision of the timeless story."

The contest, "Florida's Journey into the Land of Narnia," is open to all students in grades 3-12 in public, private and home schools. Three winners will be chosen based on the following categories:

  • Elementary School, Grades 3-5: Short Essay Contest
  • Middle School, Grades 6-8: Illustration Contest
  • High School, Grades 9-12: Short Video Contest

Winners will receive prize packages including a private screening of the movie, a weekend stay at Disney's Swan and Dolphin Resort, dinner at Orlando's Medieval Times, movie memorabilia and more. Teachers of winning students and their classrooms will also receive prize packages.

"Arts and education work hand-in-hand. Music, theater, media and visual arts can all be used to express the vision of what a student experiences through reading," said Mrs. Bush. "Not only are students recognized for their efforts, teachers will also be rewarded for their creative implementation of reading and learning in the classroom."

In addition to contest rules and deadlines, educators can find free posters, educator guides and lesson plans created and provided by Walden Media. Contest information can be found at www.justreadflorida.com or by calling (850) 245-0503. Entries must be postmarked to designated entry submission locations no later than 5:00 PM EST on Friday, November 25, 2005.

"Walden Media and our friends at Disney are proud to partner with Just Read, Florida! in this activity which underscores our company's commitment to inspire and educate young people," said Micheal Flaherty, President of Walden Media, "We hope that through this program, as many people as possible get a chance to read the fantastic novel upon which the film is based."

Just Read, Florida! is the Governor's statewide reading initiative to achieve the goal of every child reading at or above grade level by the year 2012. The initiative is designed to guide changes at every level of education that have an impact on reading outcomes in Florida schools. Since 2001, the percentage of fourth grade white students reading on grade level or higher has increased from 66 percent to 81 percent. The percentage of 4th grade Hispanic students reading on grade level or higher has increased from 43 percent to 66 percent, while the percentage of 4th grade African American students reading on grade level or higher has grown from 31 percent to 56 percent. Also, The National Assessment of Educational Progress data from 2003 show Florida as the only state in the nation to demonstrate significant improvement in fourth grade reading.

To learn more about Just Read, Florida!, please visit www.justreadflorida.com.