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November 7, 2006

Kristy Campbell
(850) 488-5394
Cathy Schroeder
(850) 245-0413

Less Than One Week Left to Submit Entries for the 2006 Statewide Reading in the Arts Contest
Educators still have time to get their students involved

TALLAHASSEE — Governor Jeb Bush and First Lady Columba Bush today reminded educators across Florida that there is still time for middle school students to participate in one of the three grade level specific categories of a statewide Reading in the Arts contest centered on the New York Times Best Seller "Peter and the Starcatchers" by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. The contest, Florida's Journey into Neverland, is sponsored by Just Read, Florida! The contest is the final component of Florida's year-long reading initiative Shoot for the Stars: A Record-Breaking Year for Middle Schools.

"The Reading in the Arts contest is a wonderful opportunity for middle school students to get wrapped up in a great book and showcase their creativity and imagination," said Governor Bush. "With less than a week to go, I encourage all of Florida's middle schoolers to participate in this contest."

The contest is open to all students in sixth to eighth grades in public, private and home schools. Three winners will be chosen based on the following categories:

  • Sixth Grade: Illustration Contest
  • Seventh Grade: Short Essay Contest
  • Eighth Grade: Short Video Contest

Winners will receive prize packages, including a SeaWorld Orlando park vacation, a Macy's clothing gift card, gift certificates from Borders Books and Music, Books-A-Million and Barnes and Noble, a mall gift certificate from Simon Malls, an Apple iPod nano courtesy of Infinity Software Development Inc., a cash prize from Bealls Department Stores, and a movie gift card from AMC Theatres. Teachers of winning students will also receive prize packages.

"Through the Reading in the Arts contest, both students and teachers are able to demonstrate the ability of the arts to be integrated into other subjects and enhance learning experiences," said First Lady Columba Bush. "This year's book, 'Peter and the Starcatchers,' takes students on a new journey with some familiar, beloved characters, as well as a cast of new heroes and villains and provides a wonderful starting point for students to add their own artistic interpretations to a classic story."

In addition to contest rules and deadlines, educators can find instructional guides and lesson plans created and provided by Disney Editions at or by calling (850) 245-0503. Entries must be postmarked to designated entry submission locations no later than 5:00 p.m. EST this Friday, November 10, 2006.

"Ridley and I are honored that the First Lady has selected 'Peter and the Starcatchers' for this fine program," said Barry. "We've had a great time talking about this book with kids all over the country, and as the parent of a Florida public-school student, I'm thrilled that our book will be part of a reading initiative in my home state."

Pearson added, "When we set out to answer my daughter's question of how Peter Pan first met Captain Hook, Dave and I wanted to write a fun story that our kids could read. Now, as it turns out, we've reached thousands of kids, many of them new readers, which is a thrill unlike any other. We hope that Florida's middle school students have a blast with this project, and we thank the First Lady for selecting our book."

Just Read, Florida! is Governor Bush'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. This year 223,000 more students are reading at or above grade level compared to 2001, and improvements in middle school reading tripled that of any previous single year gain.

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