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PRESS RELEASE

January 19, 2007

Cathy Schroeder
(850) 245-0413

Annual Hazardous Weather Week Essay Contest Deadline This Sunday

TALLAHASSEE — The Department of Education's Just Read, Florida! office in partnership with the Division of Emergency Management and several other emergency management partners, is conducting its annual statewide short essay contest for high school students as part of the 2007 Hazardous Weather Awareness Week, February 11 through 17. The deadline for students to participate is Sunday, January 21.

"This contest provides students with a wonderful opportunity to use creative and critical thinking skills regarding a topic that is both authentic and important to the citizens of Florida," said Just Read, Florida! Executive Director Evan Lefsky, Ph.D.

Students are asked to play the role of mayor of a community that is being threatened by a major hurricane similar in size and strength to Hurricane Katrina and develop a preparedness plan. All entries must be electronically submitted to the Just Read, Florida! Web site at www.JustReadFlorida.com/hwaw by 11:59 p.m. EST, Sunday, Jan. 21, 2007.

An overall statewide winner and six winners and their respective teachers will be selected from each of the seven emergency management areas in the state. The state winner will receive $500 and a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio. The winning student in each of the remaining emergency management areas listed will receive $250 and a NOAA Weather Radio. The teacher of the statewide winner will receive $250 and a NOAA Weather Radio and the respective teacher for each of the six remaining area winners will receive $100 and a NOAA Weather Radio. Winners will be recognized during an award ceremony to be held in Tallahassee on Monday, Feb.12, 2007.

"We want all high school students who haven't submitted their essay entry to do so before Sunday's deadline," said State Meteorologist Ben Nelson with the Division of Emergency Management. "The goal is to promote a culture of preparedness throughout all grade levels. We encourage high school students to sharpen their pencils, and share their ideas on community preparedness."

The essay contest is part of an annual public awareness campaign that includes distribution of the "Florida Hazardous Weather Guide" to middle school classrooms, children's books in elementary school classrooms, and a poster contest for fourth and fifth graders. Also a part of the campaign is the statewide "Tornado Drill" conducted by the Florida offices of the National Weather Service.

For more information and a complete list of contest rules and requirements visit www.JustReadFlorida.com or www.floridadisaster.org.