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October 5, 2006

Cathy Schroeder
(850) 245-0413

Chancellor Yecke Announces Winners of the Middle School Summer Reading Book Challenge

ORLANDO — K-12 Public Schools Chancellor Cheri Pierson Yecke, Ph.D. today announced the winners of the Chancellor Yecke's Summer Reading Book Challenge. The challenge was the second part of the Shoot for the Stars: A Record Breaking Year for Middle Schools initiative. Students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades competed by reading 15 or more books and writing summaries to enter the qualifying round of the challenge.

"By challenging students to read, we help them see beyond their classrooms and communities to explore other times and other places, said Chancellor Yecke. "This way their imaginations are energized and their horizons are expanded."

The winners of the Summer Reading Book Challenge:

  • Hashna Manorah, a sixth grade student at Roosevelt Community Middle School in Palm Beach County who read 49 books;
  • Kyser Ziska, a seventh grade home school student in Hillsborough County who read 49 books; and
  • Stephanie Russo, an eighth grade student at Indian Trails Middle School in Flagler County who read 89 books.

Each of the winners received $300 courtesy of Bealls Department Stores, Inc. and a $25 gift card for Barnes and Noble. The winners' schools also received $500 for the media center. Additionally, the top 10 students with approved summaries will receive Apple iPod shuffle, courtesy of the Florida Education Foundation. A total of 2,655 students participated in the challenge and will receive a certificate to recognize their efforts in reading.

"The challenges in this initiative give students unique and fun opportunities to reinforce their love of reading," said Education Commissioner John L. Winn. "I am proud of these students who chose to wisely invest their summer in reading."

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

  • The Commissioner's FCAT Reading Scores Challenge. Each middle school that beat both the percentage of students meeting high standards in reading and the percentage making learning gains received certificates from Governor Jeb Bush and Commissioner Winn and Just Read, Florida! posters and flags commemorating their achievement. Somerset Academy Charter Middle School, which had the highest level of improvement statewide, received $10,000, courtesy of Bealls Department Stores, Inc., for their school media center.
  • Breaking A World Record: Reading Aloud! Last week Governor Bush led more than 300,000 middle school students in a statewide read aloud with in an attempt to break a Guinness World Record™ for the "Most People Reading Aloud Simultaneously in Multiple Locations." Official results are expected in the coming months.
  • The Governor and First Lady's Reading in the Arts Contest. Similar to the 2005 contest, Florida's Journey into Narnia, 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, using this year's book selection "Peter and the Starcatchers" by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. Prizes will be awarded to an individual statewide student winner, and their teacher, in sixth, seventh and eighth grades. Submissions in different categories are due November 10, 2006 and winners will be announced in December.

"Each summer, on average, students lose two to three months of the reading growth they experience during the school year," said Just Read, Florida! Executive Director Evan Lefsky, Ph.D. "Keeping in line with the goals of Just Read, Florida!, Chancellor Yecke's Summer Reading Book Challenge keeps our focus on making students year-round and lifelong readers."

For more information on Just Read, Florida! and details regarding ongoing contests, please visit