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Creates "Reading" Frenzy
by JLMSAdmin
May 21, 2011
By Rory McLeod, Teacher at Dr. John Long Middle School

On May 10th the BookCrossing phenomena made its way to Dr. John Long Middle School in Wesley Chapel, Florida where close to 2,000 students were encouraged to join the “World’s Largest Library” through a school-wide literacy event. The area has a history of pirate invasions and is not far from where the world famous Gasparilla Pirate Festival takes place. The planning committee decided to incorporate a little local history into the event and invite official Gasparilla pirates to pass out books to students.

During the morning announcements, students were told their school was becoming an Official BookCrossing Zone (OBCZ) and Joanne Hurley, Pasco County School Board Member, proclaimed May 10th Official BookCrossing Day. The school held a “mock down” (i.e. fake lockdown) and students were told pirates were invading their campus. Pirates from the Krewe of Shamrock, Ye Loyal Krewe of Grace O’Malley, The Gaucho Association of Tampa and the unofficial Ye Loyal Krewe of Dr. John Long stormed the campus after taking over the school on the morning news.

During this raucous “wild release” over 1,000 books were given out to students who were told they would have to “walk the plank” if their books didn’t get read and released over the summer.

A select group of students participated in a scavenger hunt, collecting doubloons along their route, which ended at the media center where the school’s book fair was taking place. These students were allowed to pick a FREE book and encouraged to register it on the BookCrossing website.

Later in the week, students participated in a virtual author visit with Patrick Carman, author of The Skeleton Creek series and book five in the 39 Clues series. Mr. Carman said, "Bookcrossing is great and the idea of releasing 1,000+ books "into the wild" is a fantastic effort…I'm happy to be a part of this event at Dr. John Long M.S."

The school also conducted a school-wide Internet safety lesson with students prior to the big day.

The faculty plans to continue to implement activities around BookCrosssing. Before summer break, a prerecorded message from the official “spokespirate” of the event, Gene Monroe (a.k.a. Mean Gene the Scottish Pirate of Shamrock) will be broadcast to students to encourage them to sign up for accounts, register books and keep the BookCrossing movement going at Dr. John Long Middle School.

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