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PRESS RELEASE

May 08, 2007

Tom Butler
(850) 245-0413

Florida Middle School Students Break World Record

TALLAHASSEE – Education Commissioner Jeanine Blomberg today announced Guinness World Records™ confirmed that Florida middle school students successfully broke the record for the “Most People Reading Aloud Simultaneously in Multiple Locations.” The event, Breaking a World Record: Reading Aloud!, overseen by the Just Read, Florida! office, highlighted the importance of reading to middle school students. The record attempt aired via a live public broadcast and Web cast from Disney-MGM Studios at 11:25 a.m. on September 28, 2006, when 186,054 middle school students statewide read an excerpt from the book “Peter and the Starcatchers” written by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson.

“This is an incredible triumph by Florida students and I am proud of the effort it took to achieve it,” said Commissioner Blomberg. “Breaking this particular world record earns our students a place in history and reminds them that reading is an essential part of bringing dreams to life.”

According to an official document sent by Guinness World Records™, Florida students broke the previous record of 155,528 students throughout the United Kingdom who read William Wordsworth’s poem “Daffodils,” on March 19, 2004. Copies of the official certificate will be sent to each of the 456 schools that participated in this momentous feat. Guinness World Records™ is currently considering the record for entry in their annual book.

“This is a phenomenal accomplishment for all of the middle school students who participated in the record breaking event,” said Just Read, Florida! Executive Director Dr. Evan Lefsky. “It is a true reflection of the potential of students in the state of Florida and a credit to the teachers, principals, district staff and volunteers who made this effort a success.”

Florida’s middle school students have made significant improvements in reading. Last year, 223,000 more students were reading on or above grade level compared to 2001, and improvements in middle school reading tripled that of any previous single year gain. Additionally, there has been a renewed focus on reading at the middle school level and great participation in the Department of Education’s Shoot for the Stars: A Record-Breaking Year for Middle Schools initiative.

To view the Web cast of the event visit www.JustReadFlorida.com.