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May 11, 2006

Cathy Schroeder
(850) 245-0413

Chancellor Yecke Launches Middle School Summer Reading Book Challenge

TAMPA — K- 12 Public School Chancellor Cheri Yecke today launched Chancellor Yecke's Summer Reading Book Challenge at Garland V. Stewart Middle Magnet School in Tampa. The challenge is the second part of the Shoot for the Stars: A Record Breaking Year for Middle Schools initiative. Students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades will compete to read a minimum of 15 or more books and write summaries to enter the qualifying round of the challenge.

"One of my favorite memories as a middle school student were the many hours I spent every summer reading books," said Chancellor Yecke. "In fact, two of my favorite books are on the Reading Challenge List. I hope this contest will help a new generation of students develop that same love for reading."

Students can visit Chancellor Yecke's Summer Book Reading Challenge site to view the list of middle school recommended books on the Just Read, Florida! website at One winner will be selected from each grade level (sixth, seventh and eighth grade) and will receive $300 courtesy of Bealls Department Stores, Inc. and a $25 gift card to Barnes and Noble. The winners' schools will also receive $500 for the media center. Summaries are due August 25, 2006 and winners will be announced in September.

"Middle school is a great time to reinforce good reading skills because students begin to fine-tune their personal interests," said Education Commissioner John L. Winn. "By encouraging our students to participate in this challenge we will cultivate a love of reading."

Other challenges included in the Shoot for the Stars: A Record Breaking Year in Middle Schools initiative:

The Commissioner's FCAT Reading Scores Challenge. Each middle school that is able to beat both the percentage of students meeting high standards in reading and the percentage making learning gains will receive certificates from Governor Bush and Commissioner Winn, Just Read, Florida! posters and flags commemorating their achievement. Then the school that has the highest level of improvement will win $10,000, courtesy of Bealls Department Stores, Inc., for their school media center. Winners will be announced in June.

The Governor and First Lady's Reading in the Arts Contest. Patterned after "Florida's Journey into Narnia" contest, in which more than 3000 essays, 2400 illustrations and 50 short videos were submitted for competition, middle school students will be able to compete once again. Prizes will be awarded to individual student, teacher and school winners. The selection upon which the competition will be based will be announced in September and winners will be announced in December.

For more information on the middle school initiative and Just Read, Florida!, please visit